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!

24 Replies to “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!

    1. My family is really new to horses!! My daughter loves them, so we are trying our best!!
      So a 4 cup scoop equals 3.2 lbs. in what you’re feeding? Do you think that might be the same for all feed??
      Like I said we are newbies!! We really find we love horses, it’s very therapeutic caring for them!! Any tips we would be so appreciated!!!
      We’re going to trail ride with our kiddos!!

      1. Hi Tammy,
        First off, congrats on becoming new horse owners! What an exciting time for your family! You have a great question. A great rule of thumb when starting on any new feed, would be to weigh it out. You can do this by purchasing an inexpensive kitchen scale or hanging scale from your local farm supply retailer. Make sure to ‘tare’ the scale, or zero out the weight of the bucket or scoop you are using to measure. Follow the feeding rate recommendations provided on the bag, to get your best results. Take a look at this article on ‘How to Weigh your Feed’ for some specific steps to follow. Additionally, here is a great article for new horse owners that covers a lot of common topics when starting out.

        Best of luck!

      2. No. grains do not all weight the same. for instance if you feed beet pulp to your horse it weighs heavier than your regular grains do.I’m not sure if all grains weigh the same because I’ve never weighed more than my own grain that I have continuously fed for a long time

  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.

    1. 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,

    1. 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!

    1. Sounds like you were feeding an extruded pelleted feed. The pellets in those feeds are very large.

  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

    1. 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!

    1. 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,

  8. I just won an Overo paint mare from a raffle which also turned out to be pregnant & due the end of Jan beginning of Feb. I’m not sure how much she weighs but in need of any advice about how much to feed her as her pregnancy progresses. This is my 1st pregnant mare so really new to it all & terrified at the same time. My husband says she looks about 1000-1100 lbs. She gets purina impact dry mix since that’s what they had her on when we got her, hay & alfalfa cubes. How much of each should she get as her pregnancy progresses & when? Any advice is greatly appreciated! ????

    1. Hi Crystal,
      What an exciting time for you as a horse owner! A great option for a pregnant mare can be SafeChoice Mare & Foal Horse Feed. This is a great product to use as the mare is pregnant and lactating, and also carries over for foals as they transition to feed! It nourishes growing muscles, contributes to proper bone growth, supports a young immune system, enhances hair and hoof quality and aids in nutrient digestion and health. You will be able to find specific feeding recommendations on the bag or on the product webpage (shared above). Additionally, adequate forage and water should be included in your mare’s diet.

      Best of luck as you continue through this exciting process!

  9. I have fed Nutrena feeds for years. Since moving east my one mare has become a hard keeper. I tried more senior, I tried adding beet pulp, I also tried switching to perform and even adding boost. While all of these did okay, her big problem was she was an extremely slow eater. In 24 hours you might be lucky if she ate 8 pounds. Towards the end of May I switched over to Pro Force Fuel Andrew she loves it. For once I never wonder if she has eaten all her food, and she can get turnout with others. Before she had to be kept just with small mini so she could have company yet someone who couldn’t steal her food. She had a foal this summer and now I don’t worry about her eating enough. Her weight is excellent and so is her foals. She currently eats 15 pounds a day off her grain, about 14 in alfalfa cubes, and free choice hay. She gives this grain five carrot rating.

    1. Hi Stephanie,
      We are so happy to hear that ProForce Fuel has been successful for you! Please keep us posted on her progress!

      Best of luck!

  10. Hi i have a 27 year old mustang mare that lost alot of weight we dewormed her and had her teeth floated this spring before pasture well i am having to switch her to soaked pellets and soaked beet pulp shredds but i am having trouble getting her feedings right she was around 1200 pounds and near foundering when we got her three years ago her weight should have been at 950 to 1000 pounds she is currently at 700 pounds i need help figuring out how much beet pulp shredds and Timothy Alfalfa pellets plus senior feed to feed of each i have a 3 quart plastic scoop feed. She is light riding only for my daughter to learn on please help

    1. Hi Julie,
      Thank you for your interesting question about your 27 year old mustang mare that was too heavy, then has lost too much weight and may have some dental issues so she needs soaked pellets and beet pulp. If she is now at 700 pounds and should be at 950 -1000, I am visualizing that she must be looking ribby and lacking both Body Condition and muscle mass. We need to think of her intake requirements based on what she should weigh, not what she weighs right now. If target weight is 1000 pounds, she would be expected to consume at least 2% of bodyweight per day, perhaps a bit higher, so she would need to be consuming something north of 20 pounds per day of the beet pulp, Timothy/alfalfa pellets and Senior Horse feed.. Beet pulp is a good energy source and is low in starch and sugar, but it is also only about 8-9% crude protein and not a very good amino acid profile to build muscle. Timothy/Alfalfa pellets are a good option and she clearly qualifies as senior. You might consider feeding 1% BW (10 pounds) in Timothy/Alfalfa pellets, soaked as needed along with 5 pounds of beet pulp and 5 pounds of Senior Horse Feed. You could then gradually increase the Senior Horse Feed until she is gaining weight, then hold her there until she looks the way you want her to look.

      She should be fed at least 2x per day and 3x would be better with all ingredients split into equal feedings. Make certain loose salt is available free choice and plenty of clean, fresh water.

      Best wishes,
      Roy J.

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