Feed Need: How to get the right ration for horses’ specific needs

There are four main elements that owners and breeders should consider when considering how to feed their horses. (file photo)

The old saying is “quality over quantity”. But how does this translate into overall health and wellness for proper animal nutrition? Stefan Guthe, President of Global Equine Marketing at ADM Animal Nutrition, looks at four key components of equine nutrition.

We all know that good forage and a balanced diet are essential for an animal to grow and perform to its full potential. However, it is equally important to determine and adjust rations according to the weight of the animal and when considering its performance level or physiological stage. Horses, in particular, have very specific nutritional needs, whether they are for a broodmare, stallion, pony, show or performance horse.

So, how do we adapt to these unique needs? Here are the key items that horse breeders and owners should consider when considering how to feed their horses.

  1. Give your horse an appropriate ration for his weight

The ration instructions on horse feed labels have been pre-calculated for horses averaging 500 kg (250 kg for foals and divide the amounts shown by two). If you don’t know your horse’s weight and you don’t have a stable scale, you can estimate your horse’s weight within a small margin of error with two measurements: height at withers and chest circumference. Estimating your horse’s weight is very important to determining the correct ration and administering the appropriate amount of forage. Royal Horse has a convenient calculator Available online to help determine your horse’s weight.

  1. Choose the right feed for your horse’s life stage

For many species, proper nutrition is essential from an early stage in life. It’s no different for ponies. In fact, the period between birth and the first year of life for foals is vital for musculoskeletal development as they reach up to 80% of their adult size. During this period, the foals should receive a diet specifically designed for breeding and specially supplemented with certain amino acids, which are called “limiting”. A diet based exclusively on grass and hay will not be sufficient to cover the nutritional needs of future sport horses, and they will be more likely to develop joint and tendon problems.

  1. Give your horse an appropriate ration for its future

For your horse to express its full genetic potential, the feed must be thought out and adapted to what it will become. To cover all needs, the formulation of the feed must take into account many parameters such as energy level, minerals and vitamins, protein intake, etc. For example, at the same age, a future racehorse foal that must have a skeleton and muscle mass More mature because he is younger in training and will not be fed the same way as a sport horse who will have more time to develop because he will work later.

  1. Give horse rations adapted to the workload

The quality and quantity of the feed should adapt to your horse’s average workload, without any random fluctuations that are likely to disturb the delicate balance of the intestinal flora. Maintaining a balance of the gut microbiome is essential to the overall well-being of the animal, as the gut helps ensure the absorption of important nutrients that stimulate healthy functioning and growth. Stable feed rations support a balanced intestinal flora. Many horse feed makers offer a wide range of products categorized by power level and type of exertion (long or short) according to the discipline pursued.

Stefan Guthe, President, Global Equine Marketing, ADM Animal Nutrition.
Stefan Guthi. © ADM

Like all animals, horses and ponies have specific health and nutritional needs. High-quality forage rations tailored to the nutritional requirements of horses at all life stages and performance levels help ensure their overall well-being.

As President of ADM’s Global Equine Brand, Royal Horse, Stefan Guthe brings over 30 years of experience to the equine nutrition industry. Jothi holds a masters degree in Animal Production and Feed and has recently focused his efforts on launching nutritional solutions for equine well-being and performance, including equine gastric ulcer syndrome, horn regrowth and solutions for equine cardio and muscular function which are under intense efforts.

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