Updated: Oct 8, 2020
Are you looking to build a stable of your own? Some people say the feed room is the most important room of the barn. You want to make sure you know exactly what to buy so when the time comes you have all the food for your equine.
Make sure your horse eats lots of forage. This may include hay or pasture grass. Horses need to eat a lot of this throughout the day to maintain a healthy weight.
Good grass hay brands are Timothy and Orchardgrass hay. Grass hay is lower in protein and energy than legume hay. It is also high in fiber. This makes it especially good for horses.
Oat hay is best for older horses. The hay depends on the stage of maturity at harvest, however, if the oat hay was harvested after a grain crop that was damaged from drought the hay will have lots of nitrate which isn't too good for horses. Oat hay can be good digestible energy unless it was mature at harvest in which the hay is mostly gone, not carrying lots of energy anymore. Since oat hay is high in nitrates and sugar don't give it to a horse that is insulin resistant.
Alfalfa hay is also very good for horses since it is high in calcium and protein.
Hard feed is good for horses that do a lot of work. Your horse should eat 50% of hard feed and 50% of forage a day. Some good feed brands are Triple Crown, Nutrena, and Tribute horse feed. Hard feed is basically a mixture of barley/oats.
The grain is more tricky. Your horse should only be given grain if he/she is enduring lots of exercise. If your horse is in turnout for a small section of the day and in a stall for a large section of a day you don't need to give them grain.
If you feel like your horse needs grain only feed grain in small amounts throughout the day. If you choose to give your horse grain your horse may only need it 1-2 times a day.
Don't feed immediately before or after exercise
If you want to ride your horse wait an hour after they finish eating so they can properly digest their food. After you ride wait until their breathing has slowed and their heart rate is back to normal. Make sure they are not still sweating when you give them their food. Some yummy ideas for grain are barley, corn, and oats.
Make sure to include supplements in your horse's feed. If you are having trouble getting your horse to eat the supplements put in a small amount of molasses. It will disguise the taste of the supplement.
Rations and size
The average 1000 pound horse eats 15-20 pounds of hay a day. A horse should eat 1.5-2.0% of their body weight in hay a day. If you choose to feed grain your horse should eat 2-2.5 pounds of grain a day. The amount your horse should eat really depends on the size and age of your horse. No horse is the same size so you will need to consult your vet before feeding so you can determine if your horse is overweight and needs to lose some weight, if it's underweight and needs to gain a few pounds, or if their body weight is exactly where it should be.
Change up the food
Just like people, horses get sick of the same hay every now and then. If your horse isn't eating it may be because they are sick of their food. Try using different brands and flavors every now and then so your equine eats to their fullest.
Feeding is very important in a horse's diet. Talk to your vet before making any changes.
xx The Desert Rider