General feeding guidelines
Healthy nutrition, i.e. the quantity of the food and well-balanced portions divided over the entire day, is very important for your horse.
The correct ratio between roughage and concentrates is also very important. Every horse is unique, so we have to find the correct balance in his daily ratio: how much energy is my horse getting from his feed, and how much is he using for the maintenance of his condition and for his physical exertion?
“many physical problems in horses arise because of overfeeding!”
It is important that your horse gets sufficient structure-rich roughage every day, because roughage is usually more than 3/4th of his daily ration. Fiber is the basis of each and every daily ration. It keeps the intestines active, and promotes an optimal intestinal flora and the over-all health of your horse. The digestive system of your horse is designed for eating small portions constantly. When the digestive system is dormant for hours on end, and then suddenly must process large portions of food, it may result in problems such as colic.
In addition to sufficient roughage and small portions divided over the entire day, sufficient exercise is also very important.
As a basic rule we use the following guidelines
- If possible, use straw as the bedding in his stall
- Always provide sufficient fresh water
- Divide his daily ration in 3 or 4 portions per day
- Keep a regular feeding schedule
- Create a well-balanced roughage – concentrate ratio
- Make sure you feed high-quality roughage that smells fresh and is dust- and mold free
- Don’t feed too much!
This brings us to the following feeding guidelines
- The recommended amount of roughage is 1.0 to 1.5% of the bodyweight. A horse that weighs about 600 kg requires about 6 to 9 kg roughage per day. The amount of grass intake during pasture time must be taken into account to determine the total amount of roughage
- The recommended amount of concentrates per day for maintenance and basic sport is 0 to 0.5 kg per 100 kg bodyweight
- The recommended amount of concentrates for (top) sport: 0.5 to 1.0 kg per 100 kg bodyweight
- The recommended amount of hay per day (no pasture time): 1.5 kg / 100 kg bodyweight
- The recommended amount of hay per day (with pasture time): 0.5 / 100 kg bodyweight
Tip: Weigh the daily ration of your horse to verify the amount you’re feeding.
Breeds that are generally easy keepers, and cold bloods normally require fewer concentrates than other breeds. The exact amount always depends on the nature of the horse and his daily workload. When the horse has a day off work, start reducing his concentrates on the evening before (risk of tying-up).
Changes in the daily ration must be gradual and slow.
When a horse is gaining or loosing weight, the amount of concentrates and roughage must be adjusted. If your horse is on pasture and gaining too much weight, the recommended amount of concentrates can be reduced.
There is no such thing as an “average” horse. Use this advice as guidelines only and keep a close eye on your horse.