How Much Horse Feed Does Your Scoop Hold?

I visited a horse owner that had just purchased her own farm this spring. She said she was following the same feeding program that was followed at the boarding barn, but the mare had gained weight. A quick evaluation showed the mare had defiantly crossed the line to a good solid body condition score of a 6.

We knew the forage had not changed as the owner purchased her hay from the boarding barn. When we weighed out the mares daily ration of hay, we came up with 25 pounds per day on average. The mare weighed 990 pounds so she was receiving just over 2.5% of her body weight per day in hay. This was on target with her diet at the boarding barn.

The pasture was still being fenced, so she had a sand ring as turnout. Definitely no added calories there! The mare was also receiving the same amount of work, if not more, since she was now at the owner’s home.

The owner said she had purchased the same feed and still feeding 5 pounds per day, divided into two feedings. She then asked if our formulation had changed.  We walked into the feed room and I checked the product. It was the same feed the mare was previously on, and I assured her we had not made any changes.

I then asked how many bags of feed she was using a month. The owner replied “4 … exactly 1 per week.” I quickly did the math: 50 pounds/ 7 days is 7+ pounds per day.

I asked the owner if she had weighed a serving of the feed. She replied “No” because it was the same kind of scoop the boarding barn had used. However, when we weighed her scoop it held 3.5 pounds of feed when filled, not the 2.5 pounds she thought she was providing.

The above scoops and resulting weights are for SafeChoice Horse Feed. Weighing your scoop needs to be done with the product you are feeding, as there are differences in weight for various feeds.

With the extra source of calories identified, we adjusted the mare’s diet and she is on her way back to a healthy body condition!

12 thoughts on “How Much Horse Feed Does Your Scoop Hold?

  1. Weighing your scoop is so important. My 4 cup measuring cup, weighs 3.2 lbs of Nutrena Sr., along with beet pulp, twice a day, and what alfalfa she can get, it is keeping my 28 year old QH more in great condition!

  2. I have a 3 qt scoop as well, I am feeding pellets so my horse would get 2 lbs am and pm when “weighed” it would just happen to hit the 2 qt line, I changed feeds still using a pellet, I weighed the new feed it was alot heavier and when poured into the scoop it only went to alittle above the 1 qt line. So everyone needs to weigh all their feed to play it safe.

  3. we have an inexpensive scale we bought from the local store. we place an empty coffee can on it, zero it out and then add the feed up to the correct pound mark. every feeding, every time, every type of feed. there is a big difference between the amount of textured feed to pellet. this way we know excatly how much feed each horse receives and we can budget accordingly.

    • Hi Kala, Thanks for the question! This period of pregnancy is a critical one for getting the right nutrients into your mare, as this is when the bulk of the development of the foal is happening. First, select the best quality hay you can find, and be feeding that to her at a rate of 1.5 – 2.0% of bodyweight. So if she’s a 1,000 lb mare, 15 – 20 lbs per day.

      Then, select a grain designed for pregnant mares, such as our SafeChoice Mare & Foal. Feeding directions for a product like that also go according to body weight – in the case of our product, it is 0.5 – 0.75 lbs of feed per 100 lbs of bodyweight. So, with the 1,000 lb mare example, you’d feed her 5 – 7.5 lbs of the feed per day. Split that into at least 2 feedings per day if your schedule allows. If you visit our website, you’ll find a helpful calculator on the Feeding Directions tab of all our product pages, where you can enter your horse’s weight and activity level (or stage of pregnancy) and it will tell you the amount you should feed!

      We hope this info is helpful – if you have further questions, please let us know! Thanks ~ Gina T.

  4. i have a 30 yr old gelding quarter horse and thourgh bred mix, need help in weight gain, he gets beet pulp twice a day, and 2 lbs of rice bran and 1 lb of senior equine and he is losing weight. he is on 3rd cutting alfalfa, but he only eats the leaves,

    • Hello Donna,
      Thanks for the question. We would suggest significantly increasing the amount of senior feed he is receiving. At that age, he may need a fair amount of feed to keep his weight. And 1 lb of senior per day is far below the recommended amount for a mature adult horse in low exercise – the proper amount is more around 7 lbs per day. Please increase his feed slowly over the course of 7-10 days until he is receiving the proper amount. Then allow him to eat at that level for several weeks, and see how his condition improves!
      Thank you ~ Roy J.

  5. A while ago I was feeding my TB Gelding grain that was way bigger than the standee Timothy Grass Pellet and I have had the worst time finding a pellet larger than your standard grain or even larger than the alfalfa/Timothy pellet by Dtandlee. Would anyone know what I am talking about? I am currently using Thrive Feed and its a little bigger but I was just curious if anyone knew. Thanks!

  6. My mother thinks im under feeding our horses.
    They get triple crown .2qts and 2lbs hay am and pm and can graze a little. Whats your opinion ?
    Percheron/TB -1350lb –
    TWH -1100lb
    Paint -1200lb

    • Hello Charlie,

      Thank you for contacting us. It definitely sounds like your mom is the correct one here…sorry, but mom always knows best! A horse should receive 1.5 – 2.0% of it’s bodyweight in hay per day – so for your horses, they should get at least 15-20 lbs of hay per day! That change alone should put them in to good condition. From there, if you want to provide grain at a low amount, then you should try a ration balancer. Regular feeds are designed to be fed at a rate of 4-6 lbs per day for maintenance horses, where a ration balancer is specifically designed to be fed in the 1-2 lbs per day rate. 0.2 quarts is probably only about 1/4 lb of grain, so a ration balancer is much more in line with what you need from a calorie perspective, but will deliver a much better dose of vitamins, minerals, and protein.

      Thank you ~ Gina T.

  7. My horse is a paint. About 1000lbs. When I got him he was feed straw only. That was 3 years ago. Now I’ve got him up to 10 pounds of Nutrena senior per day with good quality grass alfalfa he’s gained about 200 pounds but still needs a little more I cannot get him to eat any more pellets than what he’s already eating help!

    • Hi Lora,

      Thank you for your question about your Paint that you have had for 3 years and that has gained 200 pounds, but needs a little more. I am uncertain if you want him to gain more weight for Body Condition or if he needs to gain more muscle to improve muscle mass and topline? I am assuming that you have had his teeth checked and that he has been dewormed properly. If he needs to gain weight for body condition score, then he needs more Calories. You may want to add a high fat supplement such as Empower Boost or a comparable product. If he needs more muscle mass and topline, you may want to consider using a good amino acid source such as Empower Balance. You may want to go to our web site and learn about Topline evaluation at

      Best wishes,

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