Is anyone taking a road trip this summer? Chances are, if you are heading somewhere in your car you will probably consult a road map or at least plug the destination into your GPS or smart phone. We do this so we can get where we want to go and do what we have planned. The same can be said for directions on horse feeding. They help us get our horse in the condition we want him to be so that we can do the events or activities that made us get a horse in the first place.
We have a pretty good road map attached to every bag of horse feed that is purchased. Feed tags not only list ingredients & guaranteed analysis, they also give detailed directions for feeding. The normal result of shortcuts during a road trip is usually being somewhere you don’t want to be. With your horse, taking shortcuts when it comes to feeding rates can mean a horse who is underweight or overweight, getting too much or being fed insufficient levels of vitamins and minerals, among other issues.
My challenge to you is this – look at your feed tag and consider the following:
- Do I know an accurate weight of my horse?
- Do I know how much my feed scoop weighs so I can accurately weigh the feed?
After you establish the above items…
- Is the amount I am giving my horse within the tagged recommendations according to weight and activity level?
- Am I feeding to accomplish something with my horse? (ie: weight gain or weight loss, lactation, etc.)
If you are in the parameters set by your feed tag on what you are giving your horse, good for you! If you are not, you need to ask some follow up questions:
- Am I willing/able to change my feeding to match what the tag recommends? If the answer is no, then the question becomes:
- Am I willing to change my horse’s feed to match how I am feeding him?
Many times we continue to do something just because it is what we’ve always done. By answering the questions above, it may become clear to you that your best feeding option may be changing feeds. Sometimes, this may mean switching to a feed with a lower feeding rate and higher fortification in order to accurately meet your horse’s needs (for example if you are currently underfeeding a senior horse). Other times, you may find that you don’t really have an easy keeper – you are just feeding him a bit too much. Don’t neglect the feeding directions on your feed tag – they are the road map for a long, healthy life for your horse.