Basic Nutrition Needs for Horses

Horses’ basic nutritional requirements can be divided into different categories, each with its own unique requirements.

Nutrition for Horses

Energy Requirements

The amount of calories that a horse consumes need to meet his energy requirements. Too few calories and the horse will be too thin, too many calories and the horse will become overweight. This is one of the most commonly made errors. A good rule to follow is approximately 2 pounds of hay per 100 pounds of horse. To see if the horse is being fed enough check the visibility of his ribs.

Fiber Requirements

Horses need fiber for proper stomach functioning of their intestinal tract, and it is often overlooked. Horses get fiber from good hay and pasture grazing. The oats in some grains can also provide a significant amount of fiber. However, grain feeding should be kept to a minimum as it can be unhealthy for the horse to eat a diet high in carbohydrates.

Protein Requirements

Horses need 8 -10 percent protein in their diet, increasing that amount with exercise, pregnancy or with growth spurts. To be sure horses are getting enough protein, owners can check the type of hay that they eat. Alfalfa contains roughly 18 percent while grass hay has around 10 percent. Grain should have the amount of protein listed on the bag.

Vitamins Requirements

Just as humans need vitamins for proper function of their body systems, horses need vitamins to reach peak performance. The majority of horses’ vitamin needs are met through hay and grain. If the horse is being fed poorly stored or low quality hay then a balanced vitamin complex should be add to its grain.

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