Horse Feeding 101: The Most Common Horse Feeding Mistakes People Make with Auto Hay Feeders
There's nothing better than seeing your horse happily tuck into their meals.
However, it's pretty easy to make horse feeding mistakes, especially if you've never kept a horse before and you're using an auto feeder.
For example, did you know, most horses need an average of 15 to 20 pounds worth of hay each day? Well if you didn't, you're definitely in the right place. Throughout this article, we're going to break down feeding mistakes you need to avoid.
Let's dive in!
All horse owners want to ensure their horse is full, happy, and healthy. However, giving them too much food can result in accidental overeating.
Needless to say, this can result in obesity-related issues including equine metabolic syndrome, which can then lead to laminitis.
Overfeeding is typically an issue with younger horses, and it's even more dangerous. Obesity during their formative years can result in malformed joints.
Instead, young horses should grow slowly and steadily (just like in the wild). This means practicing portion control and sticking to a feeding routine.
More often than not, horses only need a simple diet consisting of good-quality hay. The only time you should provide supplements is if your horse is suffering from a shortfall in nutrition.
So, there's no need to cook up the elaborate recipes you see on Pinterest - no bran mashes, no sliced carrots, or any other horsey-themed dishes.
2. Not Testing Your Hay
We thoroughly suggest getting your hay tested so you can work out the nutrients your horse is missing. This takes out the guesswork, enabling you to provide your horse with the correct supplements.
Just like overfeeding, you can also make the mistake of underfeeding your horse. This is far more likely to be a problem for elderly horses or working horses (as they burn off food quickly).
If they start to look a tad gaunt, this could be a sign your horse is underfed. If hay isn't enough to maintain a healthy weight, you may need a concentrate to top up their diet.
However, the majority of your horse's diet should always be hay. If you overfeed your horse on grains and other concentrates your horse is more likely to develop a condition called colic.
It's also pretty standard for senior horses to suffer from digestion problems. If you think this is something your horse is suffering from, try feeding them food that's specially formulated for older horses.
4. Feeding Your Horse Poor Quality Hay
Feeding a horse bad quality hay can lead to all manner of issues. You should avoid the below grasses at all costs:
- Nutritionally deficient feed
- Hays not suitable for horses - this can cause colic.
- Dusty hay - this can damage your horse's lungs.
- Moldy hay
As you can see, there are lots of things that can wrong with hay. As such, it's worth researching the food you want to buy your horse before feeding them anything.
Here are a few characteristics that define good-quality hay:
Did you know, leaves contain as much as 90% of a plant's protein. So, go for hay containing fewer stems and larger seedheads.
The color of decent quality hay varies from light to medium shades of green (for grass-based hay). Or, if you're feeding your horse alfalfa, it should be a darker green.
All in all, hay that's overly yellow suggests the grass was too mature when cut. Consequently, this isn't as easy for your horse to digest.
Good hay should boast a slightly sweet aroma. However, if it exudes a pungent or musty smell, this could be a sign the hay's molding.
Pick up a handful of hay and give it a good squeeze. It should have a soft texture to it. Poorer feed usually has rough stems that will stab your hands when you pick it up.
5. Not Calculating Hay by Weight
It's important to measure your horse's hay by weight, not volume. As a responsible horse owner, be aware that not all squares of hay boast equal weights.
The same principle's true if your horse needs concentrate. You need to weigh these out rather than just using the scoop method.
The amount of food your horse needs depends on the following factors:
- The workload
- The state of their health
- Their weight
- Their age
- How quick their metabolism is
- The weather conditions
If you fail to weigh everything out, you run the risk over or under feeding your horse.
Top Tip: Weigh out the correct food portions for your horse, then mark where this comes on your scoop. That way you won't have to bother weighing your food each meal time, but you can guarantee your horse is getting the correct amount!
Neglecting Parasite Control
Did you know, some of the internal parasites horses suffer from can mess with their digestion?
In light of this, you need to commit yourself to administer de-worming treatments. Some of these require the medication to be added to their food. So bear that in mind when you plan your horse's feeding times.
These drugs should get rid of any harmful parasites that might steal your horse's much-needed nutrients.
Have You Learned Something About Horse Feeding?
We hope this advice gives you a better understanding of horse feeding. If you want to make your life a little easier by using an auto feeder, then reach out and contact us.
We're always more than happy to help out and answer any questions you may have. Speak soon!
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