Proper Feeding Schedules for Horses

Horses that are fed on a consistent schedule are less likely to go off their feed or develop undesirable stall habits (vices). Horses that are fed on inconsistent schedules may get hungry and bolt their feed, possibly resulting in digestive disorders. Also, spacing meals evenly throughout the day is healthier for the equine digestive tract.

Use Only Top-Quality Feeds
Avoid dust and mold, and keep the feed manger clean. Proper feed storage reduces feed waste. Horses' digestive systems are not equipped to deal with dust, mold, etc., so poor­ quality hay or grain will not be digested efficiently and may cause health problems for the horse. The grains used in Purina® horse feeds must pass stringent quality tests, thereby ensuring only clean, high­-quality ingredients in each bag of Purina® horse feed.

Feed Adequate Roughage
Horses require at least 1­1.5 percent of their body weight per day of roughage in their diets. Feeding adequate amounts of high­-quality roughage can prevent many digestive disturbances as well as behavior problems. When providing a feed such as Equine Junior® Horse Feed, or Equine Senior® horse feed, or Equine Adult® horse feed, the roughage is included in the pellet, so all the horse's nutritional requirements are met when these complete feeds are given as recommended. However, it may be beneficial to supply some different roughage to decrease the horse's risk of developing boredom vices, especially when exercise is limited.

Do Not Dilute Balanced Rations
Purina's equine nutritionists formulate Purina® horse feeds with precise, correct nutrient balances to meet the requirements of the various classes of horses. Many horse owners then dilute, or "cut," these balanced feeds with a cereal grain (usually oats), thereby changing the nutrient balance and decreasing the feed's nutritional value for horses. For those horse owners wishing to feed oats, corn, or unfortified grain mixes, Purina® Enrich Plus® Ration Balancing horse feed is a concentrate pellet that can be used to supplement grains. Strategy® Professional Formula GX horse feed, Omolene #100®, #200®, #300® etc. are designed to be fed only with hay or grass.

Measure Feed by Weight, not Volume
A 3­-pound coffee can of oats is not the same amount of feed as a 3-pound coffee can of corn! The can may hold 2­3 pounds of oats and 4­5 pounds of corn. Further, since corn is more calorie-rich than oats, the can of corn may contain 2­3 times the energy as the can of oats. Any time you change feed, weigh the can of feed to make sure your horse gets fed the same amount of feed every meal. And remember that every different batch of corn or oats may be a different weight, whereas a specific volume of Strategy® Professional Formula GX horse feed or Omolene #200® horse feed will weigh the same each time. Another option is to use a pre­measured Purina scoop, available at Reber Ranch.

How to Determine the Amount of Feed
In order to feed the correct amount to your horse, you must know the horse's body weight. To determine body weight, you can use a livestock scale, a weight tape (such as those available at Reber Ranch) or an equation, such as: Body weight (lbs) = heartgirth (in) x heartgirth (in) x body length (in) divided by 330. (The heartgirth is measured as the circumference over the withers and around the barrel; the body length is measured from the point of the shoulder to the point of the buttocks.) Once you have determined your horse's body weight, follow the feeding guidelines on the bag of feed, or use the feeding calculator found on the Purina horse website to calculate how many pounds of feed and hay to give your horse.

Feed Horses According to Lifestyle
Horses require different amounts of nutrients according to their lifestyle. Make sure that each of your horses receives a total diet that meets the needs of that particular horse. Purina® horse feeds are designed to meet the nutritional needs of various classes of horses, such as Omolene #100® horse feed for pleasure horses, Omolene #200® horse feed for performance horses, Omolene #300® horse feed for growing horses, and Equine Senior® horse feed for older horses.

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