Feed your horse by weight, not by volume.
This is a common sentence uttered by many-a-feed professional and the more I talk with horse owners, the more I find myself saying it. If someone is having an issue with their horse’s weight, whether over or under, I will first ask what kind and how much hay they are feeding. My next question is what kind and how much feed does your horse get?
Responses to the hay questions are varied as are the kind of feed, but more often than not, I hear ‘a scoop’ or ‘a coffee can’ when describing how much feed the horse in question is receiving. One customer even mentioned using a Bob the Builder Helmet as her scoop….now that is creative!
How much does your scoop or coffee can of feed weigh? is my next question. Hmm…Good question is the response all too often.
A hanging scale, such as this (dirty) one is helpful to hang a bucket from and weigh feed. Note that the scale has been tared for a bucket.
There is a simple, inexpensive way to find out: most mass retailers or farm/feed supply stores sell scales, such as a fish scale, a kitchen scale, or hanging scale that range from $10-20. When you put your feed bucket on the scale, make sure to ‘tare’ the scale, or zero out the weight of the bucket so you get the true weight of the feed itself. Then, fill your scoop, coffee can, or Bob the Builder helmet, and see what weight one regular serving is.
Next step is, check the feeding directions for the feed you use and calculate how much your horse should be fed based on his body weight. Does your scoop or coffee can serving fall within the appropriate feeding range? If not, make sure to adjust the fill level of your dispensing item to fall within the recommended quantity for your horse.
It is unlikely that you will need to re-weigh the same feed for each meal, as the density of the feed will likely not vary much. Most commercial feed companies formulate their feed to meet a specific energy density from which the feeding directions are based . All other nutrients are balanced based on the energy value, which is why it is so important to select the right feed for your horse and feed the proper amounts.
Feeding your horse the appropriate amount, by weight, will ensure she is getting the balanced, necessary nutrients she needs for everyday activity and development. Once you have found the feed to match her needs, its only a matter of feeding the right amount and enjoying the end result.