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Horse Health- Tips to Feed Your Horse Proper diet is very important for your horse’s overall health. Poor diet can cause issues such as reduced performance, lameness, colic and increased risk of catching infectious diseases. In addition to water, horses need protein, vitamins, energy, and minerals. It’s critical that these nutrients be in the right amount and balance. Nutritional deficiencies, imbalances and excesses can all negatively affect the performance and health of a horse. When planning on what to feed a horse, how much to feed, and how to do it, you should remember that horses have little stomachs, which reduces the rations they consume at any given time. A horse’s digestive tract is used to processing small portions of food continuously; hence, horses naturally nibble almost constantly. Bearing this in mind, the main food for horses is pasture. Most mature sports horses doing moderate to light work will do just fine on pasture alone as long as they get quality forage and sufficient grazing time. If there is no pasture or it’s inadequate, the next ideal option is hay. If feeding hay only, supply your horse with at least 2 pounds of high quality hay grass, like timothy, or orchard grass (fescue), per 100 pounds body weight each day. If hay is for supplementing pasture, then you’ll need to adjust the amount of hay feed to keep your horse in the right condition.
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A horse is deemed to be in good shape when its ribs are invisible but can be felt easily. You can accurately estimate the weight of a horse with a height tape, which can be found at many horse feed stores. You can measure exact hay weights with economical hanging or quality loading scales. High quality hay is leafy green, free of musty smell, and free of mold and dust as well.
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Horses feeding on diets of hay, grass or a combination of the two need salt in order to balance their rations. Depending on performance, age and forage fed, horses may also need a protein supplement, and/or vitamin/mineral horse supplements. Most stores now sell protein or mineral or vitamin supplements for horses on forage diets. These are low in calories and are usually fed at a rate of one or two pounds every day for an adult horse. Due to restrictions on the quantity of food consumed, forage only might not supply adequate nutrient needs for growing foals, nursing mares, pregnant mares, and hardworking horses. In such instances, horses may need a concentrate/grain to supplement the diet. Feed them appropriate amounts and kinds of grain/concentrate depending on the recommendations of the manufacturer. To change the horses’ diet, do it slowly. Horses still require a forage diet at 1-1.5 pounds per a hundred pounds of weight daily for normal working order of the digestive tract.