Find your Feed- choosing the right product
Where to start!!!
With the multitude of products available today, how does the horse owner choose which product to feed? The many freely offered opinions ranging from the uninformed to the highly scientific make it even harder to decide which route to follow.
Sometimes decisions are based on a preferred brand, and sometimes the choice is made based on price, but, at the end of the day, the most important criterion is to choose the best product for your horse.
Please note that the suggestions and tables below are all average guidelines and therefore we suggest you contact us directly for personalised feeding advise based on your horse- contact Equus Horse Feeds at + 27 73 423 5491 / + 27 83 998 6824.
Step 1 : Take a full history of your horse.
This includes weighing your horse, and performing a Body Condition Score. You can find help with both of these in our ‘’Useful Charts and Downloads’’ and “Weight & Condition’’ sections.
Once you have accurately assessed your horse’s weight and condition, you will then be able to decide how much needs to be fed on a daily basis and where you need to make changes to his diet.
Also consider the Breed and temperament of your horse. These two factors may not seem important but they can be major determinants of which products to choose as well as indicators of what types of ingredients are needed in the diet.
For example, hot, excitable or nervous horses such as Arabs and Thoroughbreds can battle to maintain, or put on, condition. They may need calories (energy) for weight gain but from a “cool and calming” source so as to remain even tempered. Pony breeds or Warmbloods, for example, which are often more even tempered, are generally good doers. While they may need energy to perform at their best, they may not need it in excess, so as to avoid weight gain.
Step 2 : Assess your horse’s workload/energy needs
Be honest! Many of us aim to work our horses, harder or more often than we actually do. When assessing your horses’ workload make sure you are truthful as over/under estimating your horses workload could lead to an undesirable body condition.
When looking at the amount of energy your horse may need also consider their age. If your horse is under the age of four, you must take into consideration that he is a growing horse and may need different levels of energy, quality proteins, and vitamins and minerals.
The below table gives ideas of the individual workloads for your to asses against
Click on picture to view in detail
Step 3 : Look at the ingredients
This may seem strange but certain ingredients may not be suitable for certain horses.
For example :-
If your horse tends to loose weight easily but becomes hot when you increase his feed, then you may need calories (energy) for weight gain from a “cool and calming” source so as to remain even tempered. Cooling sources include structural carbohydrates such as fibres, as well as fats/oils. Avoid products which are high in NSC (Non Structural Carbohydrates). These NSC are sugars (molasses) and starch (found in cereal grains) and both of these ingredients are heating.
If your horse suffers from Tying up, severe gastric ulcers, Laminitis, Insulin Resistance, to name a few, then you will need to find a feed low in NSC (Non structural Carbohydrates) and one high in Fibre and Fats also.
If your horse is does not require any feed then look at feeding a balancer pellet to provide the daily essentials without unnecessary calories.
More information on Ingredients can be found in our “Ingredient Focus” and “Choosing the right product” section.
Step 4: Find your horses’ total daily need.
This amount indicates the total amount of feed (all components ie hay and concentrates) your horse would need in a day based on his current condition. NB: Again these are guidelines and your horse may be different
Condition of horse
Total amount per day – %of bodyweight
|Over weight horses/native ponies||1.5-1.75%|
|Average- Good doers||2%|
|Poor doers (or those in extreme work)||2.5%-3%|
Step 4 : Split his daily need into Roughage and Concentrate based on his workload
The guide below gives an idea of how you could split your horses daily total amount.
NB: Ideally the level of forage for all horses should be a minimum of 1.5% of body weight per day, however, in times of shortages or during periods of hard work this can be reduced to an absolute minimum of 1% per day. The split of forage to concentrate should never fall lower than 50:50.
So as an example if you have an average-good doer he will require 2% of his body weight in total feed per day.
For light work, this can then be split into 1.5% roughage (to reach the minimum amount) and 0.5% Concentrates, which totals 2%.
For an average 500kg horse this works to 7.5kg of roughage and 2.5kg of Concentrates. You can then choose your Equus product based on the workload the product is designed for. For example Train n Leisure is a Light-Medium product.
Total amount required per day
Step 5 : Assess your hay and grazing.
Should either of these not be of good quality, finding a high fibre product to provide extra roughage may be necessary. Equus Nice ‘n Easy is one such product that can be added alongside your horses’ diet
Step 6 : Feed by weight not volume.
It is very important to ensure that your horse is fed the correct portion of food by weight, not by volume! All feeds have different densities and thus do not weigh the same so it is extremely important to establish exactly what weight (kg) your scoop holds of the specific product being fed.
Step 7: Keep this in mind
Forages Chaffs Fibre Cubes Commercial Feeds Balancers Straight grains Supplements Treats
Feed in Large amounts Feed in Small amounts
The above information is a guideline to help owners/trainers but it should be noted that all horses are individuals and so we suggest you contact us directly for personalised feeding advise based on your horse- contact Equus Horse Feeds at + 27 73 423 5491 / + 27 83 998 6824.