Do You Know the Feeding Rate For Your Horse Feed?

scooping feed

During a horse owners meeting, a conversation with a trainer revealed the negative consequences of not following proper feeding rates. The trainer had switched to a competitor’s product without considering the specific nutritional needs of his horses. As a result, his horses experienced weight loss and dull coats, prompting him to return to his previous feed program.

Importance of Choosing the Right Product

Choosing the appropriate horse feed is crucial, especially when considering the horse’s activity level. A product designed for maintenance-level horses may not provide sufficient supplementation for horses involved in demanding activities such as showing or breeding. Proper feed rates and additional supplementation are imperative for horses working harder.

Understanding Feed Tags and Directions

Feed tags provide valuable information about the purpose and recommended feed rate for a specific product. The purpose statement indicates the intended type of horse and lifestyle for which the feed is formulated. The recommended feed rate is crucial and can vary based on fortification and nutrient quality, typically ranging from 1/4 pound to 2 pounds per hundred pounds of body weight.

Importance of Following Directions

Following the recommended feed rate is essential for optimal nutrition. Neglecting to do so can result in inadequate nutrient intake or overfeeding, both of which can have negative effects on the horse’s health and performance. It is crucial to understand and implement the appropriate feed rate for the specific product being used.

The Case Study

Misinterpretation of Feed Rate

In the case of the trainer mentioned earlier, it was discovered that he had misunderstood the recommended feed rate for the product he switched to. The product was intended for horses working at a performance level and required a feed rate of 1.5 pounds per hundred pounds of body weight, amounting to 15 pounds per day for a 1000-pound horse. Failure to meet this requirement could lead to suboptimal nutrition and compromised horse health.

Overcoming Resistance to Feeding Rates

The trainer expressed surprise at the recommended feed rate, mentioning that he would never feed that much concentrate to any horse. His resistance stemmed from not taking the time to read feed tags and do the necessary calculations. To emphasize the importance of following feeding rates, an analogy was made to baking a cake: Just as following the directions on a cake mix box is crucial for desired results, adhering to feed tag instructions ensures the horse receives the proper nutrition.

Understanding and following recommended feeding rates is vital for providing horses with the nutrition they need. Neglecting to do so can lead to adverse effects on weight, coat condition, and overall health. By taking the time to read and comprehend feed tags, horse owners can ensure that their horses receive the optimal amount of nutrients and support their well-being and performance.

Ready to ensure your horse is getting the optimum nutrition at feeding time, every time? Find the perfect feed formulated specifically for horse’s needs with our Feed Selector Tool.

Feed Selector tool

Reading Horse Feed Directions – How Much to Feed?

When horse feeds are formulated, they are developed to provide nutrition to all sizes of horses – nutrient needs go up as the size of the horse goes up.  So, feeding directions are often provided in the following format:

  • Activity Level                   Lbs of feed per 100 lbs of bodyweight
  • Maintenance                     0.3-0.5
  • Light Exercise                   0.4-0.6

So, how do you figure out how much to feed your horse? Start with knowing the weight of your horse.  Then, divide that weight by 100, and then multiply the result by both of the amounts of feed given in the directions above.  The resulting two numbers will tell you the range of how much to feed your horse to give them the nutrition they need for both their size and their activity level.

Example Feeding Directions:

1200 lb horse, in light exercise.

  1. (1200 ÷ 100) = 12
  2. (12 × 0.4) = 4.8
  3. (12 × 0.6) = 7.2

In this example, this horse would need to eat between 4.8 and 7.2 lbs per day of this feed to receive the nutrition he needs.  Some horses that are easier keepers can fall to the lower end of the range, while harder keepers may need to push the upper limit.

If you do this math for your horse, and find that you are feeding outside of the designated range, you should search for a feed that is more suitable to your horses needs.  Hard keepers, for example, may require a feed that is higher in calories per pound, while easier keepers might require a feed with fewer calories and more concentrated levels of vitamins and mineralsSuch a feed might cost more per bag, however the ability to pack more punch in a smaller feeding might actually result in a cost saving!

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