feeding and care of horses
Advice article filter
Advice about



Before the various ingredients for our products arrive at the factory we have already conducted a comprehensive research. First we do a visual inspection to make sure that the ingredients look like they’re supposed to look. Then we thoroughly check moisture-, protein-, starch- and rough fibre content to determine the nutritional value of the ingredients. Of course the ingredients are also examined to see if they don’t contain foreign matter or are contaminated by matter that is not supposed to be present.

Only the best quality will eventually arrive at our factory. That is why Pavo can guarantee constant quality to its customers. Not only the products of our suppliers must meet our stringent requirements but also the transportation of these products. These requirements are formulated in the GMP+ norm
Good Manufacturing Practice) and HACCP-food (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point). These are two quality systems that take the safety and warranty of the horse feed manufactured by Pavo one step further.

In addition to a selection based on quality we also make a selection based on taste. This means that Pavo will only use products that your horse really likes.
Good quality roughage is always the foundation of a well-balanced diet for your horse. To keep your horse as healthy as possible it is often necessary to add a concentrated feed to the daily ration of roughage, such as pellets, muesli’s or separate ingredients of these products. These concentrates are rich in vitamins and minerals (in the correct ratio) and are a perfect supplement for their daily ration of roughage.

Which ingredients have been used in my horse feed?
Just like a jar of jam or peanut butter, every bag of horse feed must be labeled with the ingredients that have been used in the manufacturing of the product. The ingredient that is used most in the product is mentioned first, the ingredient that is used least is mentioned last.

To explain how the different ingredients affect the health of your horse, we have compiled a list of ingredients.

“A horse that works deserves his oats” is a familiar expression. From way back horses were supplemented with oats. Oats and other grains contain a large amount of starch.
A horse can convert starch into energy. The digestibility of the starch depends on the type of the grain.

For an optimal digestion, some grains must go through a heat treatment before the horse can benefit from it. People carry out a similar process with their food almost daily, for instance by boiling their potatoes. Only after they’ve been processed (boiled, baked) people will be able to digest them properly, while they can hardly get any energy out of it in the raw form.
To improve the digestion of starch, we process some grains by crushing, boiling, rolling and/or eXpanding (popping). Corn is a great example of this treatment. After popping the corn, it becomes popcorn and the digestibility of the starch has improved dramatically for the horse.

Grains are tasty and nutritious but by itself they lack many important nutrients. A diet that consists only of grains as the main ingredient of the daily ration is very unhealthy. Grains contain a great amount of energy but very few vitamins and minerals. Some of the essential vitamins also have an improper ratio, such as the bone minerals, calcium and phosphor. The ideal calcium-phosphor ratio for a horse is 2 to 1.
In grains this ratio is 1 to 2. This means that a daily ration with a large amount of grains needs an extra supplement of vitamins and minerals (calcium). The protein content of most grains is not too bad (8 to 12%), but the quality of the protein is mediocre. Because of the low content of building blocks (protein, minerals) grains are not very suitable for young growing horses, but they are a great source of energy for an adult horse. Be aware of overfeeding your horse with grains. It can lead to nutritional disorders such as colic and founder. The most commonly used grains and grain products in the horse diet are oats, barley, wheat, spelt and corn.

Oats has been the grain for horses for as long as we can remember. Horses like oats. In addition to a large starch content and a small sugar content, oats have a tough hull (rough fiber). Due to the tough hull, the energy value of oats is lower than the energy value of other grains. After all, the horse gets less energy from rough fibre than from starch. Usually horses are fed crushed oats, from which the hull around the kernel has been burst open, which gives the digestive fluids an easier access to the starch in the kernel. Rolled oats are only useful for a horse with dental problems that has difficulties with chewing.

“When you find lots of whole grains in the stool, it is a sign that your horse doesn’t chew properly. Check the teeth of your horse for sharp edges. When your horse devours his feed, mix the oats with a handful of chopped alfalfa or straw. Your horse will start chewing more slowly, and this will benefit the digestion.”

Ing. Vincent Hinnen – Nutritional expert Pavo GroomingTeam©

Will oats make my horse ”hot”?
Many riders say that their horse becomes “hot” after eating oats. There are a number of explanations for this phenomenon. One explanation for this so-called “oats-effect” is that oats has several components that affect the central nerve system as a result of which you feel “happier”. Another, more acceptable explanation is that the starch of oats is very digestible for a horse, much easier than the starch of other grains. After eating oats, the sugars from the starch enter the bloodstream very quickly, and apparently give the horses an immediate boost of energy: the horse becomes “hot”.

Barley is becoming more popular in the horse feed industry, because it contains a great deal of energy; the hull is thinner and it has a higher starch content than oats. Compared to oats, the starch of barley is more difficult to digest. That is why barley is mostly used in soaked, flaked or popped form.

Wheat by itself lacks more nutrients than oats or barley. Wheat has a very thin hull and consists mainly of starch. The energy value is high, but it hardly contains any fiber. Combined with other grains wheat is very useful for horses. Using only wheat is not recommendable. It is too one-sided.

Spelt is a very old grain variety. Contrary to modern crops such as wheat, barley and corn, spelt has never been cultivated. It is a very original crop. The un-peeled spelt has a beautifully formed husk, which contains valuable fibers that stimulate the intestinal process. The spelt kernel is similar to the wheat kernel and is easily digestible for the horse.

Corn has a similar nutritional value as wheat. The quality of the starch however is very different.
Cornstarch takes much longer to digest than starch from other grains. We do not recommend feeding whole corn. Crushed or popped corn is easily digestible

Concentrated feeds
Concentrated feeds are a blend of several ingredients that, mixed together, form a complete addition to roughage. When a concentrated feed is used – in the form of pellets or muesli’s – it normally contains additional vitamins and minerals. There are several different kinds of concentrated feeds. The differences between these different kinds are quite large. Not only the composition is different, but also the digestibility and therefore the nutritional value. At present manufacturers must put the name of the ingredients (from most to least used) on the label of the product.

What is the content of concentrated feeds?
Concentrated feeds (pellets and muesli’s) are a blend of several ingredients. Grains such as oats, barley, wheat and corn are the source of energy supply. Muesli’s also contain processed varieties of grains such as crushed oats, or crushed and popped barley, wheat or corn. Heated soybeans, soy scrap or peas generally provide additional protein. Soy flakes, dried grass or alfalfa are a great source of fiber.
Practically all compounded concentrates contain vitamins and minerals. In muesli’s these can often be found in the form of small pellets. Cheaper concentrates use ingredients such as coleseed scrap, corn gluten and palm kernel flakes.
The energy source in less expensive varieties of concentrated feeds is often cheaper and less tasty ingredients such as cassava (starch-rich) and coconut scrap (rich in fat). Beet pulp and straw are also used. Beetpulp is tasty and nutritious, but can cause intestinal obstruction of it has not been soaked before feeding.

“Manufacturers must put all ingredients on the label of the product. Take a look at the ingredients in your horse feed!”

Veterinarian Leendert Jan Hofland van het Pavo GroomingTeam©.

Grain (bi-)products

Wheat bran
Wheat bran consists of the hulls of the wheat kernel that remain when most of the starch has been extracted from the kernel. The starch is generally used in the food industry for human consumption and the wheat bran is generally used in horse feed. Wheat bran contains more protein than grain (16%), but the quality of the protein is low. The starch content is low and the fibre content is high, which makes wheat bran safe for horses. Like grains, wheat bran contains few minerals and the calcium-phosphor ratio is poor. Wheat bran is a laxative.

“When your horse has diarrhea, feeding bran must be avoided”.

Ing. Vincent Hinnen – Nutritional expert Pavo GroomingTeam©

The nutritional value of semolina ( a coarsely ground wheat grain) is similar to wheat bran, although semolina contains slightly more protein. Horses like semolina.

Wheat gluten
Gluten are released when starch is extracted from wheat. The gluten are rich in protein and may cause allergies in people, but not in horses. Wheat gluten leave a bitter taste and horses don’t like it.

Oat flake residual meal
This product is obtained when starch is extracted from oat flakes, and consists mainly of the hulls of the oats. These hulls are hard to digest and therefore provide little energy.
It is a cheap ingredient and is therefore generally used for energy-arm horse feed.
The residue has a stale smell, comparable to wet newspapers. Horses don’t like it very much.

Oil bearing seeds
Obviously oil-bearing seeds have large oil content.
When we compare the fat content of oats and linseed, we notice that oats contain almost 5%, but linseed contains more than 30% fat. Due to the high fat content the seeds are a popular addition to the daily ration.

“Linseed in the feed gives your horse a beautiful shiny coat.”

Quote: Emma Hintzpeter – Pavo GroomingTeam©

Linseed has large oil content and gives your horse a beautiful shiny coat. Linseed is also a laxative. Do not feed large quantities of unprocessed linseed to a horse, because linseed contains toxic ingredients. Heat treatment (or boiling) will break down these ingredients, and at that point they will become completely harmless.
When the linseed has cooled off after boiling and a grayish jelly settles on top of the concoction, it is ready to feed. Mix it with a handful of wet bran or concentrated feed.

Soybeans have a large protein content and contain very healthy oil. For people, soybeans are a great substitute for meat (protein). But they also contain several harmful ingredients. Heat treatment will render these ingredients harmless. That is why mostly toasted or popped soybeans are being used.

One or more ingredients of the byproducts of the oil-bearing seeds have been extracted from the original seed. Linseed oil, palm oil, coconut oil and soy oil are extracted from oil-bearing seeds.
In our own food these oils are known for their high content of unsaturated fatty acids such as linoleic acid and linoline acid. The residual products with specific characteristics are used in horse feed.

“Coconut scrap and palm nut flakes sometimes contain theobromine, which is one of the banned drugs of the FEI rules and regulations.”

Leendert Jan Hofland

Linseed flour / flakes
Linseed flour flakes are the residual product that remains after the extraction of linseed oil. It is rich in fibers and protein and contains little oil. Linseed is popular with horse keepers, but it is very expensive. Labels and promotional brochures often state that a feed product contains linseed oil or even linseed.
However, in many cases linseed flakes, not linseed, are being used. These linseed flakes contain much protein and little oil.

Coconut scrap
These coconut particles are the residual product that remains after the extraction of coconut oil. It contains many, and often hard to digest fibers. Due to the penetrating smell horses don’t like this ingredient very much. Coconut scrap sometimes contains traces of the drug theobromine. If you compete under the rules and regulations of the FEI, this ingredient must be avoided.

Soy scrap
Soy scrap is a residual product that remains after the extraction of soy oil. It is an excellent source of protein in horse feed. Ingredients rich in protein do not smell very nice, but horses like to eat them nevertheless.

Soy hulls / soy peels
After oil and protein (scrap) have been extracted from the soybeans, the only residual product that remains is the skin. We call this the soy hulls or peels. They have a low content of protein and fats, but a large content of fiber. These fibers are easily digestible for the horse. Soy hulls have almost no smell and horses like them.

Turnips and roots
A turnip or root is a fruit that grows under the ground. Everybody knows the orange winter carrot, but potatoes and cassavas are turnips and roots as well. Like the fruits that grow above the ground, turnips and roots contain a large amount of nutrients, especially starches and sugars.

Winter carrot
Winter carrots are a real delicacy and treat for your horse. They consist of mostly water, so your horse won’t gain weight from a few carrots a day. In addition to water and a little bit of sugar carrots contain pro-vitamin A (beta-carotene).

Mangold root
Mangold roots also contain a large amount of water. Clean the roots before feeding so they are free of sand.

Cassava or manioc
The cassava is rich in starch and is used in food products for human consumption, such as shrimp crackers. Horses don’t like the naturally bitter taste. Cassava is used in horse feed to bring down the cost, because it is a relatively cheap ingredient.

Potatoes used to be fed as an addition to the daily ration of workhorses. Some horses are allergic to potatoes and will get potato eczema.

Bi-products of turnips and roots
Turnips and roots can also be used to extract a variety of ingredients. A well-known example is sugar from the sugar beet. The residual product is often described as a kind of mash. Examples of residual products are cane- and beet molasses and beet pulp.

This ingredient looks like syrup. Molasses is a residual product that remains after the extraction of sugar for food products for human consumption. Molasses is used in almost every kind of concentrated feeds. Molasses adds flavor because it contains a large amount of sugar and it is also a perfect ingredient to make a sturdy pellet. The amount of sugar varies between 1 and 7%. Horses love it!

Beet pulp
Beet pulp is a residual product that remains after the extraction of sugar. Beet pulp consists mainly of fibers. Much like soy hulls, these fibers are easily digested by the horse. Unfortunately dry beet pulp pellets expand enormously in water, to as much as 6 times their own volume! In dry form, beet pulp is dangerous for horses. The pulp must be soaked in water before feeding it to the horse, to prevent intestinal obstruction.

Vegetable oils in general
Vegetable oils are extracted from grains or seeds. Well-known oils that are used as horse feed are linseed oil, salad oil and soy oil. Every oil variety is easily digestible for a horse. They supply energy and contribute to a beautiful shiny coat. If your horse feed doesn’t contain added oil, you can add about 1 teacup of vegetable oil per day to the daily ration of your horse for extra energy, with a maximum of 300 ml per day. Beware, don’t feed too much!

Linseed oil
Linseed oil contains a large amount of unsaturated fatty acids and is very healthy. But it is also rather perishable.

Salad oil
Salad oil is a blend of several different oils and can differ in composition per brand.

Soy oil
Soy oil is very tasty and is easier to keep than linseed oil.

Sunflower oil
Sunflower oil is rather heat stable and is easier to keep.