We may be able to answer some of your commonly asked questions below. However, we know it's sometimes more reassuring to speak to a person and we have a team of vets and performance horse specialists available to support you, so please don't hesitate to call our helpline on 01270 782223, or talk to us below on live chat.
How much hay or haylage should I feed?
Forage is an essential part of all horse and pony diets. Horses have evolved as trickle-feeders and feeding insufficient forage can result in problems such as stereotypic behaviours, gastric ulcers and/or colic. Horses will eat between 2-2.5% of their bodyweight as dry forage per day. Depending on the usage of the horse some forage may be replaced by concentrate. However, if your horse needs to lose weight it may be necessary to restrict forage intake. We recommend a restriction of no less than 1.5% of body weight unless under veterinary supervision.
I have recently changed to haylage and my horse’s droppings have become much looser. Is there anything I can feed to help with this?
There are many reasons why your horse may have developed loose droppings. It seems likely that on this occasion it may be linked to his recent change in forage type. Hay and haylage are fermented in the horses large intestine with the help from a population of bacteria and other important microbes. A change in diet can disrupt this sensitive hindgut environment causing your horse's droppings to become loose.
In this instance, we recommend that you use Dodson & Horrell Digestive Support. Digestive Support is a comprehensive pre-biotic that uses a combined approach to ensure that digestive disturbances are minimised by supporting beneficial bacteria.
Another thing to remember is that haylage has a higher moisture content than hay thus the amount of fibre your horse receives from the same weight will be much less. As a result you will need to feed more haylage than hay to fulfil your horse’s fibre requirements but remember it is usually of higher nutritional value and you will be feeding more calories. To enable you to calculate how much haylage your horse needs we recommend that you have it analysed using our Forage Analysis service.
Will grass provide my horse with everything they need?
Unfortunately not! Whilst grass may provide sufficient calories and even protein for horses at rest or in light work, a large study has shown that UK grazing will not meet their mineral requirements. For example, grass only provides around half the quantity of zinc a horse needs every day and this can result in poor hoof health.
Horses that maintain weight well on grazing alone don’t need lots of concentrate feed but they still need extra vitamins and minerals. To make sure your horse’s diet is balanced, consider feeding Dodson & Horrell Equi-Bites or Daily Vitamins & Minerals.
What is the difference between a feed balancer and a normal concentrate feed?
A feed balancer is designed to be fed in small quantities, to provide a concentrated source of nutrients such as protein and micro-nutrients so that horses who are only fed forage will receive a balanced diet. Ultimate Balancer is formulated to be fed at just 100g/100kg bodyweight per day.
A conventional concentrate (pellet or mix) is designed to provide an additional source of calories and therefore the quantity fed will be much higher, and is dependent on the horse’s calorie requirement. For example, Competition Mix is formulated to be fed at a rate of 600g/100kg bodyweight per day. Normal concentrate feeds, when fed at the recommended level, will also supply all the micro-nutrients your horse needs for health and well-being.
How much concentrate feed is safe to feed in one meal?
The horse’s stomach is very small in comparison to the rest of the digestive system. As a result feeding large concentrate meals can increase the risk of problems such as colic. You should aim to feed no more than 500g/100kg bodyweight per meal.
For example a 500kg horse should have a maximum of 2.5kg of food per meal. Remember that this amount includes everything in the bucket; concentrate feed, chaff and sugar beet etc. In some cases the meal size may need to be even smaller for example horses and ponies with Cushing’s Syndrome (PPID) may require very small, regular meals.
Are carrots safe to feed?
One or two carrots a day, as a treat, is perfectly acceptable. It is a common misconception that feeding fresh carrots will supply the horse with lots of sugar. In fact carrots are 88% water and provide only around 4g of sugar each. If you would prefer to feed a more nutritious treat to your horse or pony then we recommend that you consider Dodson & Horrell Equi-Bites. These are tasty bite size treats and have the benefit of a full range of added vitamins and minerals, helping to ensure that your horses’ nutrient requirements are met.