Feeding horses is one of the most important topics for keeping and caring for animals. After all, the health and longevity of the mount will depend on the right diet. In our article we will try to understand the most basic issues of nutrition and, in general, that different horses eat.
Basics of the basics
Feeding horses is based on an individual diet, depending on the load, breed and living conditions. Feeding horses for work should be the most nutritious, as doing heavy work animals spend a lot of strength and energy. The feeding of foal mares should be just as nutritious and nutritious.
Feeding sports horses deserves special attention, since it is impossible to show good sports results without having good nutrition. Moreover, the digestive system of thoroughbred racers is more vulnerable, so their diet is made individually on the basis of specially prepared mixes. But let's get everything in order.
Water - the source of vitality
The horse’s body is about 60% water, so even the animal endures hunger more easily than thirst. However, the required amount of water is determined by the living conditions and activities of the horse. For example, if you work hard or if the horses feed on a dry concentrated feed, you will need more water. The approximate amount of moisture required under normal conditions of stable content is about 40 liters per day.
The horse should have access to clean fresh water at all times. The best solution for this is an automatic drinker. If you water the horse by hand, it is important that the water is not stagnant and cold, otherwise there may be colic. Also, you can not water the animal after hard work. The steed must be stepped off, cooled down and allowed to drink in about 20-30 minutes in small sips. In winter, give heated water.
If the horse loses about 15% of the water of the total weight, it will lead to severe dehydration and death.
Staple food for horses
A healthy, moderately working horse should eat up to 16 hours a day. The amount of total feed depends on the horse's age, conditions of detention and work, but it does not exceed 2.5% of the total weight. Ideal three meals a day, but if the animal is on vacation, then two meals will be enough in small portions.
Hay and grass
The main food of horses, both in nature and at home, is vegetable food, namely grass and hay. 99% of all nutrients a horse can get from plants and high-quality hay. However, not every hay can meet the needs of a horse. It is important to harvest high-quality, diverse herbs and dry it properly, preserving valuable substances. The most nutritious hay that is harvested in spring and early summer.
In nature, animals eat hundreds of species of grass, plants, roots and leaves in a day, which cannot be said for stable maintenance. Therefore, with one hay from the field, all the necessary substances are not obtained, which means that other components must also be introduced into the diet of the domestic horse. For example, the green substitute is grass granules for feeding in winter. However, good hay should always be at the trough of a horse: both in winter and in summer.
Cereals form the basis of the diet of concentrated types of feed, they give energy and strength to horses. Therefore, it is very important to calculate the daily dose of grain depending on the working conditions and use of the animal. Grasses are used to fatten horses and to maintain physical fitness. These include corn, oats, barley, wheat and rye. It is important to remember that such food is rather coarse and starchy, therefore, to improve their absorption, they are cooked by boiling, crushing, flattening or steaming with boiling water.
Oats in their nutritional nutritional value is the most suitable feed for horses. It contains starch, therefore it gives energy quickly and has a “warming” effect. That is why the feeding of sport horses is based on oats.
Corn is rich in starch and fat, so it feeds horses. However, it should not be more than 25% of the concentrates in the diet. Barley does not give a lot of energy, there is little fiber in it, so more than 50% of its diet should not be given. As for additional additives, they are given as needed. Of the mandatory, which improve the appearance of horses, the condition of wool and skin, is fish oil, yeast and vitamin groups.
Feed for horses includes special granules and muesli, containing all the necessary substances, enriched with vitamins and minerals, as well as often medicinal plants. All granules are made for different horses separately and are divided in composition into complex ones, for breeding horses, anniversaries, for racing horses, proteinaceous. Each species is selected individually based on the recommendations of the veterinarian. Standard feed for horses has the following ingredients: oats, wheat bran, wheat, barley, oilcake, feed meal, meal, chalk, salt, sunflower oil, fodder grain product.
Muesli for horses contain a set of cereals with a balanced set of protein and other elements. They have a different composition, taking into account the needs of horses, for example, food for ponies, for warming up or, conversely, for feeding while resting. However, they contain a lot of sugars, they are high in calories and are quickly eaten, which is bad for digestion. For good salivation, they need to be mixed with fodder, beet pulp or rough chop.
Supplements in the diet include bran, as well as vitamin supplements. Bran is a derivative product after processing wheat, which consists of a small shell of grains. Many vitamins are stored in it, and also it helps to better digest other foods. Among the total feed, bran should be about one third. It is better to give them in the form of mash, pre-soaked.
As for vitamin supplements, they are special and complex purpose. The first is introduced into the diet from the recommendations of the veterinarian or, if necessary, to support the body. The second feed for horses can improve the diet, if the animal works a lot and does not receive all the necessary nutrients from the main feed. See also the video from Global_Star_TV_Russia for more details.
Stimulants for digestion
- Yoa-Sacc - concentrated yeast culture, which increases the level of yeast in the intestine, improving digestibility,
- amino acids - essential for protein metabolism. This includes tryptophan, lysine, methionine,
- Probiotics - increase the concentration of beneficial microflora in the intestine, prevent the development of digestive imbalances,
- Feedbalancer - are produced by different companies with different names and are needed to eliminate imbalances in the diet of horses that eat excessively oats or bran.
Delicious for horse
Want to pamper your horse? Many, for example, give their horses sugar. But such desirable white cubes do not bring any benefit, therefore their cottage should be reduced to a minimum or replaced with other delicacies. Offer them sliced carrots or apples, special cookies. It is a good source of vitamins and fiber,
But because of the too high level of sugar, giving them constantly is not worth it. Remember, this is just a treat and you can only feed them no more than once a day. For a complete guide on feed additives and production complexes, see our next article.
- The basis of the diet should be roughage. This is what nature invented for the structure of a horse's intestines - the digestion of a large amount of roughage.
- Compound feed for horses, select only special, designed for pigs or cows in any case will not work.
- When feeding whole oats, it is good to add straw chops to it, this will improve salivation and digestion (for 200 grams of oats - 5 liters of chops).
- Once a day, add to the feed 25-100 grams of salt (depending on the work and the degree of sweating). The best thing is to hang a salt stone.
- Never give multiple feedings at the same time.
- Feeding horses should be regular, in small portions of time.
Feeding horses is not particularly difficult if the owner of the animals follows certain rules for feeding the livestock (Figure 1).
Among the main recommendations that should be considered when feeding horses, there are:
- A clear schedule for the issuance of feed: it is desirable that the digestive organs of the animal are occupied throughout the day. To do this, food must be issued often, but in small portions. In this case, the basis of the diet should be high-quality hay or meadow grasses, access to which in animals should be constant. The best is 3-4 meals a day, as with a lack of food in an animal can begin an ulcer.
- Constant chewing: physiologically, the horse is adapted to the fact that at any time of the day it has constant access to pasture on pasture. When kept at home, you should also provide conditions under which the animal can constantly chew.
- No abrupt diet changes: In the horse's intestines, microorganisms are constantly located, which are responsible for the digestion of a certain type of feed. In order not to disturb the microflora of the digestive organs, animals should be transferred to new types of feed gradually over a period of two weeks. With a sharp change in diet, animals may begin intestinal disorders or metabolism.
- Access to water: The average daily horse need for water is about 35 liters, but in the summer this figure may increase due to the heat. Adequate drinking water will help the animal maintain optimal body temperature and ensure proper transportation of nutrients through the body. Therefore, animals should either be watered frequently or provide permanent free access to clean drinking water. In winter, drinking water must be heated.
In addition, when feeding horses, it is imperative to comply with sanitary and hygienic standards: monitor the quality of feed, the purity of feeders and the health of horses' teeth. Only in this case, the animals will not only preserve health, but also productivity.
The diet of feeding is made individually for each horse, depending on the purpose of its use, age and physiological features. However, there are general norms of feeding, which are acceptable for all animals (table 1).
Note: An average horse weighs about 500 kg. For feeding such an individual, about 2 tons of oats, at least 4 tons of hay, 1 ton of carrots and about 500 kg of bran are needed for a year. In the diet must include salt (about 13 kg per year). Naturally, these figures look daunting, but if you translate the figures for the annual ration into a daily ration, the volumes of feed will not be so big.
As mentioned above, an adult horse should be fed 3-4 times a day, and the delivery of food is better not to be carried out immediately before work or other physical activities. After eating the animal must rest.
In wild nature
So what is the feature? To figure out what to feed the horses, it would not hurt to figure out how these animals feed in the wild. In ancient times, herds of horses simply grazed in the meadows. This was enough to provide their body with all the necessary nutrients. However, horse breeders today are engaged in the creation of special diets for their pets. They should include additives that optimize the composition of food.
Food for horses will largely depend on where they live. In the natural environment, the main source of food for them are herbs and bushes. Horses that live in the southern regions also eat root vegetables. Individuals from northern latitudes can feed on the bark of trees, twigs and dry herbs. Steppe steers eat plant stems and high hard cultures.
Many are interested in whether it is possible to feed a horse with bread. In this issue, all experts express a negative opinion. Bread causes fermentation in the animal's body, which negatively affects the work of the digestive system. Therefore, the use of this product is highly undesirable.
Types of feed
The way of life of the horses on the farm is significantly different from wild horses. Therefore, they need a different diet. What can feed the horses? It should be borne in mind that animals do not eat without stopping, so you need to choose food in such a way that the individual is well eaten.
Conventionally, all feeds are divided into three groups:
According to experts, the horse's diet should consist of 70-80% of succulent and coarse feed. The proportion of concentrated should not exceed 40%. Otherwise, the horse may begin to have health problems. The fact is that the digestive system of these animals is arranged in such a way that involves the use of most of the fiber.
How are horses fed in the stable? The basis of the diet is usually made up of bulk roughage.
- Dried grass. Horses should always have free access to it. If a certain percentage of fresh greens is present in hay, do not exclude it from the diet. The composition should mainly include cereals, for example, timothy, hedgehog team, fescue, meadow grass, ryegrass. The most valuable for the horse are plants collected at the beginning of the vegetative period. It is at this time should be collected and dried.
- Herbal flour and granules. In fact, these products are mowed plants that undergo a drying process under the influence of high temperatures. They are then compressed in such a way as to produce a highly nutritious food with a low percentage of moisture.
- Straw. This type of food is not very nutritious. After it is dried, only the grass stems remain. Basically, this type of feed is added to the diet of horses only for volume.
If you want to make roughage yourself, then it is extremely important to follow the basic rules of harvesting and storage. This is necessary in order to prevent the occurrence and reproduction of fungal rot and bacteria.
What do you need to feed a horse so that it shows the best results at the races?
Most of the animals on grazing are eaten:
- Grass: horses can get such feed on the farm and meadows. A breeder can also provide freshly cut grass. However, it should be borne in mind that eating green grazing a little better. Firstly, nutrients are stored in this form for a longer time. A freshly cut grass at the slightest violation of the rules of storage immediately begins to rot. Eating animals spoiled foods can lead to a serious breakdown of the body's digestive system.
- Root vegetables and vegetables. Here the main rule is the same as for grass: the main thing is not to give horses spoiled and rotting food. Vegetables contain a large amount of fiber, minerals and vitamins. Horses can eat sugar beets, cucumbers, carrots and potatoes, but not sprouted. Before giving vegetables to horses for food, they should be washed. The animal needs about 1.5 kg of beet molasses per day. It can significantly improve the taste characteristics of all feeds. Before use, this product must be diluted in water. Also horses can be given fruit, but only as a treat.
If access to fresh grass and vegetables cannot be provided, then the question of how to feed the horses arises most acutely. In this case, you can give horses haylage or canned grass. This feed contains 55% moisture. The horses willingly eat this food, besides it is rich in sugar and fiber.
Typically, this food is used in the event that the horse needs to be fattened or bring the exterior to the desired state. Concentrated feed is used as the main source of nutrients. One cannot do without it if the animal constantly has to experience serious loads.
There are several types of concentrated feed:
- grain mixtures
- whole grains.
Let's dwell on it in more detail. The better to feed the horses? How to choose the right food to individuals were healthy and beautiful? Most often these questions are asked by novice breeders.
In the diet of the horse must include:
- Barley. This culture is extremely high in calories. It contains 60% starch. However, it is also not recommended to give horses too much of such feed, since its fiber content is rather low. Before feeding the animal barley, it must be steamed. So it is better processed by the body of the horse.
- Oats Perhaps everyone knows that horses eat this cereal well. Its main difference lies in the high content of fiber. It is impossible to make the right diet for a horse without oats. Он оказывает прекрасное воздействие на пищеварительную систему и легко усваивается организмом. Лучше не смешивать его с другими кормами.
- Отруби. Этот тип питания отличается низким содержанием крахмала. Но и содержание полезных микроэлементов, витаминов и белков в нем также незначительно. В основном отруби используются для увеличения объема рациона. Adult horses can eat about 3.5 kg of bran per day.
- Corn. This cereal has a high starch content of about 70%. She is usually fed horses before severe physical exertion. In a short time, it is able to provide animals with a large supply of energy.
- Compound feed. For feeding horses, you can use granulated or loose. As a rule, it includes milled grain of several types, bran, cake, mineral supplements and grass meal. Such nutrition is suitable for horses with different physical needs.
- Grain mixtures. They can both be bought ready-made or made at home. To do this, simply mix the grains of several types, salt, beet pulp and other ingredients.
How to calculate the daily rate of the horse? How to feed horses with different physical parameters? When choosing diets for an animal, factors such as its weight and the upcoming load must be taken into account. For example, if we are talking about an animal mass of up to 50 kg that performs work of medium gravity, then for one day it will be enough for 6-8 kg of root crops, 3-4 kg of concentrated feed, 6-7 kg of straw and 12 kg of hay. If the horses do light work, then the amount of concentrate can be reduced or completely removed from the diet.
Food for pregnant mares
What is its feature? In the period of carrying foals mares need enhanced nutrition. After all, the health of the future animal will depend on the diet of the mother. How to correctly calculate the amount of feed? Per 100 kg of mare's weight, it is necessary to give not less than 4 kg of high-quality bean or cereal hay per day, up to 1 kg of sunflower cake, up to 6 kg of vegetables and root crops, up to 4 kg of silage. Weakened animals should also be included in the diet of concentrated feed. Immediately before delivery, you need to increase the amount of silage in the feed. During the feeding of the foal, a nutritious diet for the mother is maintained.
What to feed recently born pets?
Young individuals can be given the same thing as an adult animal. When the stallion is weaned from the mother, cereal feed, cake, hay, and bran are introduced into its diet. Also, kids necessarily need roots (carrot is best suited), germinated grain and molasses.
A mandatory component in the diet of race individuals are concentrates and hay. The ratio of these products depends on many factors, including the number of workouts, the weight of the animal and the schedule of competitions. What to feed the horses during the race? As a rule, the diet includes grass meal or pellets, corn, legumes or grass hay, salt, premixes and molasses.
In this review, we reviewed the main points related to the feeding of individuals. Many household owners believe that it is not necessary to make a special diet for an animal, and you can feed a horse with bread. However, in this case, health problems can not be avoided. Only high-quality nutrition, consisting of greens, roots, grasses and concentrated feed will provide animals with all the necessary nutrients.
Feed and their nutritional value
Proper feeding of horses is one of the main conditions for good work in horse breeding. It must be remembered that improving horse stock is inextricably linked with improved feeding.
Feed used for animals have different nutritional value. To make it easier to compare the nutritional value of different foods among themselves, it is customary to express the nutritional value of each feed in feed units. In Russia, 1 kg of medium-quality oats is taken as feed unit, and the nutritional value of each feed is compared with the nutritional value of 1 kg of oats.
For the organization of proper feeding, it is important to know what other feeds are equal in nutrition to one feed unit (1 kg of oats).
To replace the nutritional value of 1 kg of oats, it is necessary to give (in kg):
In addition to the overall nutritional value of the feed, it is necessary to take into account the content of digestible protein in them, since the nutritionally similar feeds contain different amounts of it. For example, the same amount of grass and winter straw will be equivalent in total nutritional value, but protein in 1 kg of grass will be 80 g, and in 1 kg of straw - 20 g
Basic horse feed
All feed can be divided into 3 groups:
- 1st group - the so-called coarse, or bulky, feed: hay, straw, chaff,
- 2nd group - concentrated feed: oats, bran, oilcake, corn, etc.,
- 3rd group - succulent feed: grass, carrots, beets, silage.
Rough or bulky feed
Hay has the highest value of roughage for horses. Compared to other domestic herbivores, the horse has a relatively small volume of the gastrointestinal tract. For example, the horse’s stomach and intestine capacity is only 263 liters, and the cows are 353 liters, the horse’s intestines are 30 meters long, and the cows are 56 meters.
Unlike a cow, in a horse, food feeds faster from the stomach to the intestines. As a result, cattle digest roughage better than horses. For example, horses digest 18% fiber in wheat straw, and cows - 50%.
From this it follows that horses need to be given the best roughage, the most nutritious and easier to digest, and in addition, it is necessary to add concentrated feed.
The best hay for horses is a good meadow, steppe, clover, alfalfa, and vico-oatmeal mixture.
The quality of hay depends on timely and proper harvesting of it. The best is such hay, which is mowed at the beginning of flowering herbs. Hay, which has stood for a long time or has been in the rain, turns into a low-nutritional food, close to straw in its qualities.
Hay is eaten by horses relatively slowly. The horse eats 2 kg of hay in about 45 minutes, and the same amount of oats in 20-30 minutes.
The best hay for horses is meadow, steppe or clover.
The best straw for horses is oatmeal. Winter straw is used mainly for bedding. When she feeds one horse, they lose weight and lose their ability to work. Chaff is a little more nutritious than straw. The best chaff is considered oatmeal. In terms of its nutritional value, chaff approaches bad hay. It is not recommended to feed horses with chaff and barley rye without its preparation, due to the presence of spies in it.
The horse eats good oat straw in small quantities willingly and without preparation. If oatmeal makes almost the only forage for horses or it also gives winter straw, it is necessary to prepare it for feeding. Prepare straw for feeding in various ways. Most often it is cut on straw cutters. For cutting straw, you can use and foil cutters.
Straw cutting moistened with water and sprinkled with bran or flour. Chopped straw can be steamed in a box or barrel. For this, it is poured with boiling water and left for several hours, as a result of which it becomes softer and tastier. It is better to give myakin steamed or wetted, it can also be mixed with juicy food.
In the first place on the feed value for horses is green fodder. It contains all the necessary nutrients in an easily digestible form - proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.
Herding on green grass has a positive effect on the health of the horse, restores proper digestion. Working horses during the pasture period should add concentrated feed to the feed ration.
In winter, horses should be given to horses: carrots, fodder beets. It is especially useful to give root crops to young growth and nursing mares. Root crops are poor in protein and mineral salts, but rich in vitamins, especially red carrots. Root vegetables before feeding must be washed and cut.
With a lack of concentrates, as well as for the rapid amendment of an exhausted horse, it is useful to give potatoes, preferably boiled. They feed potatoes 5-6 kg per day per head.
Horse feeding and watering procedures
The horse's stomach is small, so the amount of feed given in one feeding should not be too large. The horse eats feed for quite a long time and chews it thoroughly. When chewing hay and straw, a horse consumes 4 kg of saliva for every kilogram of feed, and when chewing grain for 1 kg of feed, 1 kg of saliva.
The horse should be fed at least 4 times a day, and during heavy agricultural work it is necessary to feed it during short breaks. This is especially important when there is a lack of concentrate, when a horse, in order to replenish energy consumption, must eat a greater amount of roughage (hay, grass). With frequent feeding, the horse’s strength is better preserved and its efficiency increases.
At each feeding, first give coarse feed, and then concentrates. It is better if the food will be eaten by a horse an hour before work begins.
It is necessary to water the horse plenty and at least 3 times a day with clean, benign water. It is impossible to water the heated horses immediately after work: it is necessary to allow them to cool for 1.5-2 hours. In order for the horse to better eat the feed during the break intended for feeding, it is useful to feed her half an hour - an hour before the break and then, without letting her stand, work on it.
The horse should be plenty to drink at least three times a day.
How to feed a work horse
When drafting a feed ration for horses, one must keep in mind that the eatability and digestibility of the feed ration will be higher if it is composed of various feeds. Therefore, the feeding ration should, if possible, diversify and change from time to time.
When feeding a horse it is very important to establish the correct feed rate. The fodder rate should provide the animal with nutrients to maintain vital activity and replenish the energy expenditures that the horse spends during work. The feeding rate depends on the horse’s weight, age and body condition, as well as on the amount of work it does.
The most accurate to determine the weight of the horse can be on the usual scales. We must weigh in the morning, before giving food and watering. In the absence of weights, the weight of a horse can be determined accurately enough by measurement. The weight of a working type horse is determined as follows: take height (height at withers) in centimeters and multiply by the following factors:
Horses of working type of easy addition
Choosing feed for the horse
A horse is an animal for which the quality and composition of feed is extremely important. Its range has recently expanded significantly, but many owners prefer to use traditional fodder: hay, silage, oats, straw. Grass pellets, root products, briquettes, animal feed, vitamin mixtures, etc. are produced for horse feeding. Each owner decides on the expediency of their inclusion in the daily ration of the horse.
From roughage the best is considered meadow and cereal bean hay. High-quality hay is an excellent source of nutrients. Feed of this type in small quantities (up to 10 kg.) Are fed without prior cutting. If more hay or straw is produced, it is recommended to chop and mix them with concentrated feed (oats, wheat, peas, oil cakes, etc.)
In winter, hay makes up to 50% of the horse’s daily ration. Do not abuse these products if the horse is working.
Some horse owners use hay from different fields to feed. This allows you to vary the composition of herbs.
Straw - roughage that can replace hay. It has little protein, but a lot of fiber. For horses, suitable oatmeal, corn and millet straw, it must be mixed with hay in cutting, not exceeding 2 cm.
Chaff the content of nutrients exceeds the straw. It is fed in wetted or steamed form, or mixed with other juicy feeds.
Of legumes for horses, it is preferable to use pea or vetch. Such feed should be given only in crushed, flattened or hammer (large) form, but not more than 2 kg. per day.
Succulent feed (tubers and roots) perfectly complement the diet, they contain up to 90% of water, not enough protein, but enough vitamins, trace elements and fiber. For feeding, carrots are used, sugar beets (especially useful for work horses and feeding mares), potatoes. They are pre-washed and crushed, sometimes mixed with other feed. Potatoes can be steamed or boiled. Feeding horses with sprouted, low-quality potatoes is not allowed.
Horses are also well suited to this kind of feed, as sugar beet molasses. This product goes well with roughage, increasing their taste. Workhorses are given molasses (not more than 1.5 kg.), Having previously diluted with 4-5 liters of water.
Of succulent feed often used corn or sunflower silage. It should be given to a horse mixed with hay.
It is good to use in winter and early spring. haylage. It is carbon dioxide preserved green grass. By its nutritional value, haylage is comparable to hay, close to green grass in terms of sugar content. Haylage is readily eaten by animals and in the winter period can replace half the daily rate of hay.
Green food used in the warm season. To avoid indigestion, the horse is gradually transferred to grass food, first it is better to give freshly cut grass without taking the animal to pasture. It is impossible to feed the dead green mass and grass with hoarfrost.
The source of protein, phosphorus and B vitamins are bran. This is a good feed for all age groups of horses. The daily rate of wheat and rye bran for horses is up to 4 kg.
Feed for horses represent the factory mix consisting of several components which are combined depending on age group. Subdivided into:
- compound feed additives.
Good energy supplement for working horses - dried pulp. It is pre-soaked in water in a 1: 4 ratio.
With a lack of protein for sick and weak horses, young animals are given feed of animal origin (meat and bone meal, fish meal, reverse, etc.). They are necessary for a balanced diet, taking into account the average daily needs of the horse.
As sources of vitamins and microelements, the horse’s diet includes:
- salt (30-60 grams per day)
- chalk (up to 60 grams per day)
- bone flour. It is added only in case of a lack of calcium and phosphorus in the diet (up to 110 g per day)
- dicalcium phosphate (with a lack of calcium and phosphorus) and disodium phosphate (with a lack of phosphorus)
- fish fat
- yeast ordinary
- premix for horses. A mixture of vitamins and trace elements for the enrichment of diets.
Feeding working horses
The daily need for feed for working horses is determined depending on the body weight and the workload of the horse (work is light, moderate and heavy).
In the daily ration of horses include coarse, concentrated and succulent feed. From additives fit yeast and premixes. The harder the work, the less roughage is given, and the constituent part of the concentrate reaches 70%.
An approximate ration for feeding work horses consists of 7 kg. hay, 7 kg. haylage, 5 kg. silo, 5 kg. oats, 50 g. additives (premix), 40 g. salt.