Making Cents Out of Horse Feed Costs

I was recently called to a boarding and lesson barn to help the owner evaluate her feed program.  With the rising costs of bedding, labor, insurance, electricity and hay, she wanted to look at options at saving money. 

The farm housed about 40 Thoroughbreds.   Twelve of the horses were active in a lesson program, and the other horses activity levels ranged from pleasure maintanece to moderate work/show.   The Body Condition Scores of the horses ranged from 4 to 6, and the owner explained that some of the horses were harder keepers than others, with daily grain intake ranging from 1 to 18 pounds of grain per day per horse.

We examined the hay and found it to be a good quality timothy grass mix.  The horses were getting about 1.5% of their body weight per day in hay. For grain, she was using an economy feed that was priced at $8.99 per bag.  She felt that with the large number of horses on the farm and rising cost she could not afford the premium feeds that were almost $14 per bag.

When we examined the feed tag from the manufacturer, the suggested feed rate was 1 pound per hundred pounds of body weight (that’s 10 lbs of feed for a 1000 lb horse!), and the fortification of the product was minimal.  The owner then explained that she and the boarders did purchase supplements to provide added biotin, yeast culture, copper, zinc and selenium.  Some of the hard keepers were also given a fat supplement.

To determine how much she was spending on feed, we did the following math:

  • Current Feeding Program = 10 lbs feed + supplements
    • ~ $8.99 per bag / 50 lbs per bag = $0.18 per pound
    • ~ $0.18 per pound X average 10 lb per day feeding = $1.80 per day per horse
    • ~ Plus the various costs of nutritional supplements to make up for the lack in feed
  •  
  • Proposed Feeding Program = 5 lbs feed + no supplements
    • ~ $14.00 per bag / 50 lbs per bag = $0.28 per pound
    • ~ $0.28 per pound X average 5 lb per day feeding = $1.40 per day per horse
    • ~ No need for nutritional supplements!

When we calculated the cost per horse per day based on feed consumption and supplements, some of the horses exceeded $3 per day!  When we compared that to the feed rates on the premium line feeds, not to mention complete fortification levels and the time savings in not having to sort out servings of supplements every day, the premium feed was a better value in the long run.

7 thoughts on “Making Cents Out of Horse Feed Costs

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  4. I am going to have a hard time feeding my six horses because horse feed is going up and up. I really do not want corn in my feed . Why can’t they have feed with more grass hay that is compressed into pellets that would lower the price of feed. I am old and my horses are happy and fat now but I feel like the country is going to make it hard to keep the horses. Please help us to keep our animals healthy and safe……. Thank you.

    • Hi Faye!
      You bring up a good question. Note that while ingredients for horse feed are increasing in cost due to the current drought, so are hay prices – so adding more roughage to pellets won’t necessarily help that much.
      We do have a product called Triumph Complete which is high fiber, well fortified and low starch and sugar, in a single pelleted feed that can be fed as a complete diet or as a supplement to available forage.
      You can find additional information on Triumph Complete on our website.

      You might also consider, if you have plenty of hay or pasture for your horses, trying a product like Empower Balance – perfect for easy keeping horses, as it provides needed vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, without the added calories and starch of a traditional horse feed – and you only feed 1.5 lbs per day to a 1,000 lb maintainence horse!

      Kind Regards,
      Gayle M. Reveron, PAS
      Equine Specialist

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