If you have a horse, you definitely want to keep him around as long as possible. It's important to keep your horse healthy, including making sure he follows a healthy diet. You should then understand the answer to the following question: what do horses eat?
What Do Horses Eat?
There are a few things you should know if you're wondering, what do horses eat? Most of the time, their favorite thing to eat is grass. They'll graze on it any time of the day, and they enjoy it.
However, this doesn't mean you should just never feed your horse because you assume he's getting everything he needs from the pastures. In order for your horse to have a balanced and complete diet, you should make sure to address his needs yourself as well.
There are a few things that you should be giving your horse on a fairly regular basis. Of course, you should consult with your vet when you're planning out your horse's diet.
Just like people, some horses have allergies or medical conditions that would make certain foods dangerous to them, and you should be mindful of this when you think about the answer to the question, what do horses eat?
How much should you feed your horse?
Most of the time, you'll want to feed your horse about 2 to 2.5 pounds of food for every 100 pounds of his weight. A healthy and active horse that weighs 1,000 pounds, for example, will need about 20 to 25 pounds of food daily.
The majority of your horse's nutrition should come from hay in most cases. For the hypothetical 1,000-pound horse, you'd want to give him 15 to 20 pounds of hay and 2 to 5 pounds of concentrates (other grains) every day.
The bulk of your horse's calories should be coming from roughage, such as hay or grass.
The bulk of your horse's calories should be coming from roughage, such as hay or grass. Grain isn't as important, although you can give your horse small quantities of grain at different intervals throughout the day.
Horses may be large, but they have small stomachs. They can't eat all their food for the day in one sitting. They eat sporadically throughout the day.
If your horse is in a stable, you should feed him two to three times a day. It's always good to spread these feedings out as much as you can. You should also make sure your horse never goes more than eight hours without eating.
What kinds of things should you feed your horse?
So what do horses eat, anyway? Though some horses may have special dietary needs, there are four major categories of things that you should be giving your horse to eat.
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Typically, hay is sold in bales. Each bale contains 10 to 14 flakes, or slices/bundles. However, you can also buy hay in pellets or cubes.
There are many types of hay from which you can choose. These include alfalfa, oat, Timothy, orchard, and Bermuda.
In addition to hay and grass, you'll probably want to feed your horse different concentrates as well. These would be grains, such as corn, barley, and oats. Typically, you can buy these in packages.
There are concentrates for different categories of horses. You can buy feeds specifically made for younger horses, older horses, and horses in competition. The different formulas are meant to address different dietary needs of different horses.
Treats shouldn't form a major proportion of a horse's diet. But it can be a good idea to give them to your horse once in a while. Treats like carrots and apples can be really good for your horse, and he'll enjoy them as well.
There are many other treats that you can give your horse. Most fruits and vegetables are safe, although you should definitely check with your vet before giving him something unfamiliar.
You can feed your horse watermelon and bananas whole, including the rind and peel, respectively. Pitted apricots and dates, as well as seedless grapes, are also great.
Just like people, horses need water every single day. However, while you should be aiming for 8 glasses a day for yourself, you need to be giving your horse 12 gallons of fresh, clean water on a daily basis.
Remember that just like humans, horses' bodies are made up of a large percentage of water. In fact, horses are about 70 percent water. It's important to help them maintain their body composition and keep them hydrated so that they can stay healthy and energetic at all times.
Things to Keep in Mind When You Feed Your Horse
When it comes to managing your horse's diet, there is more to it than simply knowing the answer to the question, what do horses eat? There are a few rules that you should follow when feeding your horse.
Not every horse is the same
You should keep in mind your horse's size and how active he is when you're feeding him. Of course, an active horse should be eating more food. If your horse does a lot of work or goes riding a lot, he should definitely be eating more.
It's a good idea to leave hay in front of your horse for most of the day. This way, they can eat small amounts at the intervals that they want. If you have any doubts about how much your horse should be eating, you should ask a vet.
Gradual changes are best
Whenever you're making a change to your horse's diet, you should do so in increments. When you suddenly change your horse's entire diet, this could lead to founder or colic.
If you're changing the amount that your horse is eating, make the change over a period of several weeks. If you're changing the type of feed, a good rule of thumb is to increase the proportion of new food by 25 percent every two days. This way, within six days, the horse will be eating his new food completely.
Wait before and after exercise
Try not to feed your horse right before or right after exercise. Ideally, wait about an hour after your horse has finished eating before taking him out riding. If you're going to do more strenuous exercise, you should try to wait at least three hours.
If your horse has a full digestive system, he'll have more trouble using his lungs to work or exercise. Also, when horses are working, blood flow will be diverted away from their digestive organs, so gut movement can be too slow. This can potentially lead to colic.
Once your horse has finished exercising, let him cool down completely before feeding him. His skin shouldn't feel hot and sweaty, and his breathing rate should be back to normal.
Horses have very accurate internal clocks. Routine is very important to them, and you should keep them on a consistent feeding schedule. If you can, you should give them their meals at the same time every day.
Most of the time, if you change a horse's schedule, it won't matter too much. However, if your horse is prone to colic, this could trigger a colic episode. So if this is the case, you need to be extra careful in maintaining your horse's dietary routine.
What Not to Feed Your Horse
You may have been curious about the answer to the question, what do horses eat? However, it's just as important to know what horses can't eat. Just like chocolate is dangerous for dogs, there are certain foods that you should never give your horse.
In fact, chocolate is actually one of the foods you shouldn't feed your horse. It contains theobromine, which could cause colic, internal bleeding, seizures, or metabolic problems. Your horse actually shouldn't be consuming anything with caffeine, since it can lead to an irregular heart rhythm.
Horses are actually lactose intolerant, so you shouldn't be giving them dairy products either. You shouldn't give them bread products, because they can choke on the mass of dough.
Don't give them any avocado, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, potatoes, rhubarb, tomato, garlic, or onions. Many vegetables are okay, but these ones are off-limits. Unpitted stone fruits, such as dates, are also a bad idea, although you can give these to horses without the pits.
There are also plants that you need to make sure your horse doesn't eat. Rhododendrons, ragworts, foxgloves, deadly nightshades, buttercups, acorns, and privets can be dangerous and even fatal to your horse even in small amounts. Acers, including sycamore, are to be avoided.
You don't want your horse to eat lawn clippings or compost either. These could contain traces of poisonous plants or materials that can cause your horse to choke.
If your horse is left to graze on a regular basis, you should make sure none of these plants are anywhere on your property.
Go Feed Your Horse!
There's a lot you should keep in mind when feeding your horse. It's not just the answer to the question, what do horses eat? You also need to keep in mind what they don't and can't eat.
If you have any doubts about what your horse should be eating, you should consult your vet. Keep in mind that some horses have allergies or other medical conditions that might make you have to alter their diets. The majority of the time, horses can follow a standard diet, but you should definitely be aware if your horse is an exception.
Your horse's diet is only one part of his health, but it's a pretty important part. This is why you need to make sure that your horse eats everything he needs to keep him healthy for a long and happy life with you. Paying attention to your horse's diet will be good for both you and your horse not only right now, but also in the long run!
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