RBEI MASTER COURSES: EQUINE MANAGEMENT: FEEDING 5
If you have to feed grain, more than 2kg of grain in one feed is risking colic and complications and large amounts of chaff needs to be added so the grain only makes up 10% of the whole feed.
Horses bodies are designed only for grazing and therefore their stomach size is very small.
So fattening horses up safely takes time. If fattening a horse barley and lucern work best.
You can provide more hay than the horse can eat, 50 / 50 lucern hay / grass hay 24 / 7 for a week, then include feeding 3 feeds of 1/2 a kg of barley (the pre-mixed steam-flaked with molasses is most palatable to horses) fed with large amounts of lucern chaff.
Then increase gradually over 2 - 3 weeks or so, to be on the safe side. Yea-sacc, the pro-biotic, also helps in condition gaining. Adjust according to your horses weight and energy needs, you can adjust feeds to a maximum of 2kg of grain per feed, cut feeds down to one or 2, but always have the ad lib hay as standard 24 / 7 unless your grass is knee high non horse sour lush pasture over large areas.
WEIGHT CHART GUIDE
A horse owner should be always watching their horses weight daily and adjust feed slightly when necessary accordingly to maintain their horse in good condition.
Horses weight changes from day to day and is affected by many things such as whether or not they had an interrupted sleep, their environmental changes, stress, their social lives, exercise variables etc...
It is good to maintain a horse in the 3 to 4 good to fat zone, pictured on the weight chart above, in slightly fat condition as a reserve if they get sick or stressed and lose weight and in preparation for energy output required.
If you allow your horse to remain obesely overweight too long you risk losing your horse to founder or laminitis or other health issues, horses plaster on weight all over their bodies but a warning sign to back off feeding fast is when the horses neck along the crest at the top becomes more and more solid and hard with fat. This is an indicator to seriously cut your horses food intake before it founders, however horses can founder before this also.
Grains should always be cracked or crushed slightly to make them digestible. You don't want whole grains unable to be digested going through and causing acidity and ulceration in the hindgut.
The best results from grain I ever see are those when the grain is crushed or cut up into tiny particles. With grain feeding you need to make it as quickly digestible as possible.
After an individual grain is cracked or crushed it starts to lose it's nutrient value.
Many people own their own grain crackers so they can crack just before feeding their horses to maximize the nutrient intake.
Generally people that feed corn have a separate more heavy duty cracker for corn and another for barley or oats.
Many people also like to keep their own chaff cutter and chaff their own lucern from hay for the same reason.
You can also soak or boil grains to make them digestible. However the addition of heat deletes nutrient value and the addition of water with boiling or soaking means the feed can go off easily especially in hot weather and sometimes within hours.
Grain is normally soaked overnight or for 6 to 8 hours.
If you add or change anything in the content of the feed this also should be done gradually to be safe.
You should never empty 'off' or old feed anywhere near where a horse can reach it and they tend to reach under and over fences quite far when they want to ;)
Additional to the feed you provide, horses will look for other food and nutrient supplements in their paddock / yard. Some like to chew the fence wood and eat it, dig up roots, eat dirt, manure, tree bark, tree branches and leaves, bedding, random objects etc. so you need to be astute in ridding horse paddocks of anything that can harm them if eaten.
Be aware of dead birds or rodents that may be in their water or paddocks and remove them promptly as some horses like to play with or even lick at these in curiosity too then get sick. If you find a dead bird or rodent in a feed or water bin this should be cleaned thoroughly before using again and in this case soap and hot water but thoroughly rinsed with clean plain water after the use of soap, even the smell of soap can put a horse off eating the feed or drinking and the chemicals can cause reactions in horses so rinse well.
You should also remove leaves and debris from bins regularly so they don't rot and or contaminate the feed / water.
If you feed using haynets you need to make sure they are high enough that horses can't put a foot through, get stuck and have an accident, be aware that as they pull and tug the hay out and as haynets empty they become very low and long and incidents from horses with hooves stuck in haynets happens much too often.
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