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Feeding Horses
First Posted Feb 25, 2008
Aug 3, 2010

Oat Hay

This year, 2007 was a year of drought and the hay supply was marginal and the cost prohibitive! What can you do? The following link tells you what kinds of alternatives you might consider for feeding your horses. It is an excellent source of information about all the food stuffs for horses. It also includes what foals and pregnant mares can be given, as well. Stretching Your Horse's Hay Supply/Oat Hay The link has the article below and also tables on how much to feed your horse with alternative food stuffs. I have reproduced this article, without the tables, in case the link is not working.

Stretching Your Horse's Hay Supply During Drought
L.K. Warren and P.D. Siciliano

Quick Facts...
High-fiber roughages should make up the majority of a horse's diet. Ideally, horses should receive 1.5 to 2.0 per

cent of their body weight per day as roughage. If grain is needed to maintain body condition, divide the daily portion into several smaller meals. Each grain meal should not exceed 0.5 percent of body weight.

Make any changes to the diet gradually over 1 to 2 weeks.
Provide free-choice access to water and salt.
Drought conditions result in poor hay and pasture production and rising feed costs. Often, horse owners are forced to find alternative feed sources to either "stretch" their limited hay supply, or completely replace it.

Horses should be fed between 1.5 percent and 3.0 percent of their body weight per day in total feed. The amount of feed should be adjusted based on the quality of the roughage, the addition of grain to the diet, the horse's physiological state (e.g., growth, lactation, level of work), and the desired level of body condition. (Table 1)

Roughages, including hay and pasture, are the most important component of your horse's diet. Roughages provide essential sources of digestible energy, protein, and some vitamins and minerals. Roughages also supply dietary fiber required for the normal function of the horse's digestive system. Ideally, horses should receive 1.5 to 2.0 percent of their body weight per day as roughage. A minimum of 1 percent of body weight as roughage is needed to maintain gut health.

Roughages, by definition, are feeds that are high in fiber (minimum 18 percent crude fiber). In addition to hay and pasture, there are many other high fiber feeds that can be used to totally replace or partially replace the roughage portion of your horse's diet. Table 2 lists some alternative roughage sources, along with their replacement value relative to grass or alfalfa hay.

Feeds with moderate levels of fiber (11 to 15 percent crude fiber) can also serve as an alternative during drought. These lower fiber feeds cannot totally replace the roughage your horse needs, but they can reduce the amount of hay you have to feed your horse. Start by ensuring your horse receives at least 1 percent of its body weight per day in roughage. Then use moderate fiber feeds to complete the remaining portion of your horse's ration. Table 3 lists feeds with a moderate level of fiber that can be used to replace a portion of the hay in your horse's diet.


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