Proper Horse Feeding

Horses are herbivores whose entire digestive tract is designed for this diet. For this reason, it is important that when keeping horses, attention is not only paid to the housing and movement of the animals. Horse feeding is also a very important point, without which the horse cannot live healthily and happily. This article contains a lot of important information about feeding the animals and shows you what you have to pay attention to so that your horses are always well and feel good.

The horse’s stomach is relatively small and has a volume of 10 – 20 liters, which of course depends on the horse’s breed and size. For this reason, it is important that not too large amounts are fed at once, but rather a several small rations. Horses that enjoy a good supply of feed eat up to twelve hours a day.

The horse feed

Horse feed is divided into two different areas. There are feedstuffs rich in crude fiber, including, for example, wet feed such as pasture fodder, beets, hay, straw, and silage. These form the basic feed for the animals. In addition, there is concentrated feed, which is also known as concentrated feed or manger feed and consists of compound feed or cereal grains.

The right feed for the health of your horses

When it comes to the main source of energy, it is usually carbohydrates in horse feed, so that fats play a subordinate role, but are still very important for the animals. For this reason, you must ensure that you always provide your pet with sufficient staple food. Not only so that your horses get enough energy, minerals, and vitamins, but the feed also has many other important functions.

We explain below what these are:

Unlike many other feeding concerns, horses need to chew the structured feed longer and harder. This leads to natural abrasion of the teeth, which means that dental diseases such as tartar or tooth tips can be avoided or at least occur less frequently.

In horses, the entire digestive tract is designed in such a way that the basic feed is well utilized, with digestion being additionally supported by the bacteria in the large intestine and appendix. This avoids flatulence or diarrhea. The intestinal movement is also promoted by the forage, which means that the animals suffer from constipation less often.

In addition, it was observed that horses suffer less frequently from behavioral disorders. Biting and weaving are therefore less common if the affected animals get a high proportion of forage.

Last but not least, the structured horse feed prevents stomach overload, which is due to the fact that this feed has a large volume. Unfortunately, it is a fact that concentrated feed, such as the various pellets, only swell up later in the stomach due to the digestive juices. So it’s no wonder that horses quickly overeat on this feed because they don’t realize that their stomachs are already full.

What horse feed and how much of it

Which horse feed is required by the animal depends primarily on the breed as well as the use and age of the horse. However, every horse should be given at least one kilogram of hay, grass silage, or grass per 100 kilograms of body weight as basic feed every day. As soon as it is a sport horse or the animal is used as a workhorse, the need is significantly higher. If the straw is used as basic fodder, the ration must be slightly smaller, here it is 800 grams for 100 kilograms of body weight. The horses need at least three meals of the forage every day.

In addition to the basic feed, it is possible for the horses to be given concentrated feed as a supplement, but this must also be made dependent on the area of ​​use of the animal. For example, racing and show-jumping horses need concentrated feed to obtain additional energy. So more than three daily meals are needed here.

If the horse gets grain feed as concentrated feed, it is important not to give the animals more than 500 grams per 100 kilograms of body weight. If it is coarsely ground rye or corn kernels, please only 300 grams.

Minerals and vitamins

Of course, the minerals and vitamins are also very important for the horses and should therefore not be neglected. Minerals have a very important influence on the health and development of horses, so they should be given as supplements.

In addition to minerals, vitamins are also important, so you as the owner have the task of making sure that the animals do not suffer from any vitamin deficiencies, which can be avoided by using the right horse feed.

It is particularly important to pay attention to this in winter since the vitamin precursors such as vitamin D or ß-carotene are important, but deficiency symptoms often occur. These have a negative effect on health, such as on the skeleton form of the animals. Vitamin D is found in hay, which makes it very important at any time of the year.

ß-carotene can be found in green fodder and grass silage and is converted into the important vitamin A by the animal’s body. Horses that have a vitamin A deficiency can quickly lose performance or become ill. If pregnant mares develop a vitamin A deficiency, this can lead to malformations in the foals.


It is always important that you as a horse owner deal intensively with the feeding of your animals and do not just give them the first horse feed that comes along, which could have fatal consequences. The feed has a significant influence on the health of your animal so that you have a very high responsibility towards your protégé in this regard. For this reason, an accurate and individual ration calculation is always very important, so that you can take the exact needs of your animals into account when feeding. If you are unsure, a trained veterinarian will be able to help you quickly.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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