Recommended feeding levels

An important part of ensuring that what you are feeding your horse is fulfilling all his requirements, is to ensure that you feed any feed at the recommended feeding level. This is normally on the bag and tells you how much to feed for your particular horse’s weight and activity level.

If you feed less than this level then your horse’s diet will be short of vitamins, minerals and trace elements.

Summer Feed Reduction

A common scenario at this time of year is horses becoming over conditioned with too much grass. At this stage, the usual reaction is to cut back the current feed to half or even to just a handful or two. Unfortunately, all the nutrients are then cut back, not just the offending energy content.

Your horse still has a similar requirement for vitamins and minerals but has had these essentials removed from his diet. In this situation a different feed or method of feeding should be selected. Either swap (gradually of course) to a lower energy feed, that you can feed at the recommended feeding rate or look for an alternative way to provide those all-important vitamins and minerals.

Topping up

If you want to continue to use the same feed then you can utilise a broad spectrum vitamin and mineral supplement to make up for the shortfall. Be careful not to over supplement however as too much can often be as damaging as too little. Most nutrients and minerals have interactions with several other minerals. Changing the amount of one can result in another becoming deficient.

If you have cut back the nuts or mix to 20% of the recommended level, then only use 80% of the product that you have chosen to top up with or vice versa. It is a case of using simple proportions to not only prevent over supplementation but also to save throwing money down the drain, or more literally in to the muck heap! If in doubt speak to a nutritionist and make sure you have labelling information and feeding recommendations to hand.

Good doers

If your horse is a particularly good doer and/or is in a low level of work, use a vitamin and mineral supplement, alongside a low calorie chaff, to supply the whole of your horse’s vitamin, mineral and trace element requirements. This means that you are not supplying any extra calories and will reduce the likelihood of weight gain. Forage and grazing are usually the culprits for weight gain and the way that these are fed should also be assessed and restricted accordingly.

Seek appropriate advice

Vitamins and minerals can be provided via a vitamin and mineral lick (check out Harbro Daily Vits and mins which includes garlic for those pesky flies and is ideal for topping up grazing horses) or use a powdered or, even better a pelleted vitamin and mineral supplement for reduced waste and ease of feeding (Harbro One Scoop is one such product that comes in the form of a pelleted vitamin and mineral supplement).

As always speak to a qualified nutritionist if you are in any doubt.