Every horse owner should understand a horse's needs and what affects those needs. The four basic nutrient groups—carbohydrates, protein, minerals and vitamins—are all required in varying amounts by horses for maintenance (horse at rest), work (riding), pregnancy, lactation, and growth.

 

Choosing the appropriate feed for your horse is essential for its health, growth and development, as well as performance and vitality. Horses are naturally grazing animals. Their digestive system is designed to eat little and often and to process large amounts of fibrous material. They may spend between 16-18 hours each day eating.

 

For maintaining digestive health, the minimum forage should be 1-2% of bodyweight mainly based on hay, grain, and pasture. However, the requirement for nutrients such as protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals is greater with increasing exercise, growth, or pregnancy. In these cases forage needs to be supplemented by cereals, coarse mixes, or nuts.

 

To find the optimal nutrition, the following facts about your horse have to be considered: the current performance level (e.g. breeding, racing, recreation) and its bodily condition. The daily nutrient requirements are based on the current performance level, climate factors (temperature, rain, wind), age, and breed. Also of importance is the composition of the feed (protein, carbohydrates, fiber, minerals, vitamins).

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