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How much does a horse eat?

Feeding horses is one of the most important aspects of stable management.  A horse's digestive system is not well adapted to domestic life. The digestive system of a horse works best when fed little and often or when allowed to graze freely.  Each individual horse may have different feeding needs, due to metabolism, age and workload.  Young horses, lactating mares and ponies needs are quite different from that of average horses, and some research is required to develop appropriate programs for those animals. There are several very good books available on feed and nutrition.  Most veterinarians are happy to help with determining the best diet and weight for your horse.  It is helpful to have a weight tape to determine your horse's height and weight when creating a starting point for your feed program.  We recommend that you check your horse's weight at least four times a year with both a weight tape and a visual inspection.  His diet can be adjusted accordingly.  Many horses in colder climates require more feed in winter than in summer for the calories needed to stay warm.
Consider hay or grass to be the staple of your horse's diet.  Good quality roughage is essential to keep the digestive tract functioning well. A maintenance diet for a 1000 pound horse is typically recommended to be about 16 - 17 pounds of hay and 3 pounds of grain per day . As a horse's workload increases, moderate these recommendations by changing to 25 pounds of hay with 6 - 7 pounds of grain per day. You can start from here and then vary your individual horse's diet based on the size, age and workload of your horse.  Lesser quality hay or simple grain (such as plain oats or corn) may require the addition of a vitamin and mineral supplement to keep your horse healthy and in good bloom.
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