Feeding and equine nutrition today is complex. Theoretically it shouldn’t be as the principles behind feeding horses for sound health are very simple. But with modern day horse keeping practices producing a range of potential problems and horses working harder than ever, the balancing act is becoming more and more challenging.
There are a range of ways that feeding and supplementing horses can be simplified and perfected and it all begins with the tools you have in your feed room.
Here is our list of 5 must haves for the feed room to make for simplified, accurate, healthy and balanced feeding of your horse/s.
1. Scales – Ok, we acknowledge that the vast majority of horse owners are not going to have scales in their feed room and even if they do, they’re unlikely to use them every time. However, something that equates to scales will suffice. It’s important that you know how much of any product you are giving your horse by weight. You probably feed ‘a scoop of this’, ‘2 scoops of that’ etc. How much does each scoop weigh? When you first introduce a new product, weigh it out using scales and in accordance with the feeding guidelines on the bag. Then mark the spot on the scoop or measuring cup you use that the weighed out amount comes to. This precision will ensure more accurate, appropriate and cost-effective feeding.
2. A hay -feeding container – By that we don’t mean a hay net. Horses have evolved to eat from ground level and should always eat from the ground to ensure optimal digestion, prevent muscular problems and to stop irritants from entering the respiratory system with no way of being removed. Of course, you can feed hay straight onto the ground, particularly if your horse is turned out. But if your horse is stabled at feed time and tends to make a mess by walking their hay through their bedding and other similar antics, some kind of container will be needed. There are a whole range of products that are suited from this ranging widely in size, price and functionality. Something as basic as an open tyre feed bin will get the job done, but if you want something a little more complex, then products such as the Harmony Hay Feeder and the Hay Bar are options to explore.
3. Metal Feed Containers – Metal bins and containers are hands down the best thing around for protecting feed from contamination, pests and damp. They might be a little more expensive than your average plastic tub but they’re worth it for what they’ll save you in spoiled feed over time. They’re also durable and hardy and usually well secured/ fastened – perfect for keeping equine escapees out!
4. Scissors – This is a given and I’m sure almost all of you reading this will have scissors in your feed room. The number 1 use for scissors though is for cutting the nutritional information from the empty feed bags as well as the batch information (if it’s in a different area). When you empty your fed bags into your feed containers, ensure you hold onto that vital information in case you need to make any adjustments to the diet, your horse requires veterinary attention or in the event that there is a recall of the product. Make sure you finish one bag of feed entirely before adding a new bag to the container so as not to mix feed from different batches.
5. Light – This seems obvious but many feed rooms either lack any light at all or are very poorly lit. This makes it hard to examine the feed and its quality. Good lighting will allow you to properly assess the feed as you’re handling it and ensure that it is not contaminated, mouldy or compromised in any other way.
“The principles behind feeding horses for sound health are very simple.”
There you have it – our top 5 must haves for your feed room and don't forget you should always have our Alpha Gold in your feed room. Which do you already have in place and which are you missing? Tell us about it in the comments below!