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An Introduction to Feeding

Feeding horses and ponies can be confusing, but choosing an appropriate feed is an essential part of their care. The horse is naturally a grazing animal and is anatomically designed to eat little and often. In the wild, they may spend between 16-18 hours each day eating, and they have a digestive system designed to process large amounts of fibrous material. Forage provides an essential foundation upon which the optimum ration for health, growth and development or performance should be built.

Feeding Facts
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Good feeding practices are also important.

· Feed Little and Often – A horses’ stomach is small and is not designed to cope with large meals, especially cereals. Feed a maximum of 2kg (4lbs) of cereals, coarse mixes or cubes in each meal

· Feed adequate Forage – Ensure that your horse or pony receives adequate forage in his diet. The minimum level of forage for maintaining digestive health is 1% of bodyweight – which equates to 5kg for a 500kg horse.

· Feed according to Work level – The nutritional requirements of many horses and ponies can be met by forage alone. However, the requirement for nutrients such as energy, protein, and vitamins and minerals is greater with increasing exercise, growth, or pregnancy. In these situations cereals, coarse mixes or nuts are needed to supplement forage.

If you are unsure about what to feed - seek some advice. Many feed companies employ one or more, Equine Nutritionists who can help put together suitable diets, or give advice about specific feeding related problems. They can often offer useful, practical solutions so use them!

Choose this link to visit the Feeding Products section

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Updated: October 2005.