34 MARCH 2016 |
has added fat or by using a
supplement that will provide
additional fat in the diet.
Common fat supplements
include stabilized rice bran and
blended, high-fat products that
may be in liquid or solid form.
Another option is to consider
adding a digestive supplement
to the diet, which will help the
horse get more out of what he is
Finally, a thin horse didn’t get
thin overnight, so don’t expect
to regain body condition quickly.
Changes to the diet should be
made gradually and the horse
should be evaluated for changes
in body condition along the way.
It may take several months to
safely put on the needed weight.
Q:What should I feed my horse besides hay to be
sure he’s getting a complete
Rob McCoy: Good-quality
forage is the cornerstone to a
sound horse feeding program.
After that, consider an appropriate
grain mix and/or supplements to
meet the needs of the individual.
For example, a weanling or
yearling will benefit from being
fed a fortified grain mix designed
for growing horses, along with
forage. A mature horse that isn’t
very active may not need a lot of
calories beyond what he gets from
forage, but will benefit from being
fed a comprehensive mineral and
Expert: Mary Beth Gordon, Ph.D.,
director of equine research for
Purina Animal Nutrition
Q:Should hay or grain be fed first?
We get asked all the time
whether to feed hay or grain first.
(There’s something of an “old wives
tale” that hay should be fed first to
slow down grain consumption.) We
decided to study it because we have
a system in our box stalls at the
Purina Animal Nutrition Center in
Gray Summit, Mo., that weighs hay
and grain and how much is eaten
with every bite.
When we fed hay 20 minutes
before either pelleted or textured
(sweet) feed, it actually did slow
their rate of grain intake. Pelleted
feed had the slowest rate of
intake; it was a little higher for the
When they didn’t get hay first,
there was no di;erence between
pelleted and textured—they ate
both of them faster than if they had
gotten hay first. But it only slows
them down by a few minutes.
Does two minutes make a
di;erence? For most horses, I
would think not. But if you have
a horse that tends to bolt his food
and has a predisposed risk for
choke, you want to do anything
you can to slow that horse down:
feed hay first, put big rocks in his
pan, put his pan on the floor and
try to spread his feed out.
Although we didn’t study
stable vices, we observed some
unexpected behaviors. The
horses in the sweet feed group
learned as the week went on that
they were getting it after their
hay, and started showing more
signs that they were anticipating
their feed. Their hay intake
actually went down between
Monday and Friday. They spent
more time pawing and turning
around in their stalls and
scraping their teeth against the
bars. That did not happen for the
horses that knew pelleted feed
Q:Is the molasses/sugar in sweet feed bad for
Mary Beth Gordon, Ph.D.:
Although people feeding more
pellets, horses still love sweet
feed. It’s particularly useful for
racehorses and those that need
soluble carbohydrates in their diet
to replace glycogen stores in the
muscles to keep working hard.
But if your horse has metabolic
syndrome, insulin resistance and/
or is foundering, don’t feed him
any sort of concentrate. They
contain too much starch.
We don’t like to use cane
molasses in feed because it’s super
sticky and freezes into bricks in the
winter and molds in the summer.
Our molasses is processed,
meaning watered down and mixed
with oils. Compared to human
food, the amount of sugar in sweet
feed is a very tiny percentage.
With your newfound answers to
many of the common questions on
equine nutrition, you’ll be better
equipped to give your horse the
best possible diet. HI
Managing Editor HOLLY
CACCAMISE has an M.S. in equine
nutrition. She enjoys eventing with her
Thoroughbred cross, Artie.
Feeding hay 20 minutes before grain will help
slow down horses prone to bolting their feed.