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Horses - Diet and Nutrition/what to feed my new horses


QUESTION: hello ma'am, my cousin bought two ex-racehorses from our local racetrack. at the track, the trainer used to feed oats, barley, bran, carrots, hay, lucerne to those horses. these horses are meant for hack riding. what all should we feed them? suddenly how to change the fodder and forage. please tell me!!!

ANSWER: Hello Rohit,

Thank you for your question.  There is no doubt that your cousin's horses won't require as nutrient dense a diet as hack horses as they did as race horses.  The best approach to designing their new feeding program is to base the diet on forage, so mostly hay and lucerne.  You can feed oats and barley as required, using each horse's body condition as a gauge of how much to feed.  Oats and barley bring mostly energy to the diet so if the horse(s) are losing body condition on forages alone, incorporate more grain at 0.5lb increments.  If the horses maintain good body condition on only forages, there is no need to add grain to the diet.

Switching forage types can have an impact on the horses feed efficiency and ideally new forages should be phased in over 7-10 days.  But this is not always an option when horses move barns or new hay is brought in.  In instances where forage change quickly, I suggest feeding a good quality prebiotic which will help maintain digestive tract health in the face of a changing diet.  Alltech's LifeForce Formula is by far my favorite prebiotic.

Thanks, Corlena

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: hello ma'am, how many kilos para grass shall i feed my horses?

Hello Rohit,

In my opinion, horses should be fed as much forage as they will eat.  A reasonable expectation of what they will eat depends on how much work the horse is doing.  Horses in mere maintenance (no work) should consume 1.5% of their body weight in dry matter daily, where horses in very heavy work should consume 3.0% of their body weight in dry matter daily.  So for example, a 1200lb horse in maintenance should eat about 18 lbs of dry matter  which is equal to about 21lbs of dry hay or about 75lbs of fresh grass a day.  The same horse in heavy work would require 36lbs of dry matter daily, 42lbs hay or 150lbs of fresh grass.

Thanks, Corlena

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Corlena Patterson


I can help with any of your horse nutrition questions and concerns. I have been involved with horses for closing on 40 years, with a B.Sc in Animal Science and currently working on an M.Sc in Equine Science with the University of Edinburgh. I have owned my own feed store, consulted professionally as an equine nutritionist, and lectured in the fields of equine and dairy nutrition at the University level for 5 years. I have developed and currently market 'Ration-X', a ration formulation program for horses...designed for the everyday horse owner. I am happy to help in any way I can.


Experienced in developing and implementing feed programs for horses of all disciplines, creating custom horse supplements and managing inter-disciplinary equine facilities. Specialize in equine nutrition consulting.

The American Society of Equine Appraisers

'Stable Management' Handbook, Equine Canada.

M.Sc (Equine Science-current), B.Sc(Agr) Animal Science, Equine Sports Massage Therapy Certification, Farrier Certification, Equine Consultant Certification, Certified Equine Appraiser, Certified in Emergency Equine Rescue.

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