Nutrition Part 1: Forage-based feeding

A horse should consume around 2-2.5% body weight per day in feed. For a 1000lb horse that would be 20-25 pounds of feed per day. Of that amount, 67-100% should be from forage.

So what is forage?
Forage is the plant leaves and stems eaten by livestock. This can be in the form of fresh grasses (pasture), dried grasses (hay, hay cubes, chopped forage), or haylage (fermented forage).

Hay is the most popular method of providing forage to the horse. The horse is designed to graze 12-18 hours per day with the head on the ground. With this in mind, it is best to feed the horse as low as possible and provide forage all day. For horses that eat too quickly or who are obese, it is best to provide hay in a slow feeder. Slow feeders are available is sizes ranging from a single meal to a full bale.
Freedom Feeder Nets
Handy Hay Nets
Hay Chix Nets
Nag Bags
Orange Slow Feeder Nets
Porta Grazer

Hay Cubes, Hay Pellets, Chopped Forage
These forage products can provide the sole forage for horses that have difficulty chewing or when hay is not available. These products can also be soaked with water to provide extra hydration or as a carrier for top-dressed supplements.
Lucerne Farms Chopped Forage
Standlee Hay Company

Haylage & Beet Pulp
These products have less sugar than grain, but are higher energy than most forages. These can act as a grain replacement for horses that need calories beyond that provided by hay. Haylage can be fed as is, but beet pulp is fed soaked with water. These products can also be used as a carrier for top-dressed supplements.
Standlee Hay Company– beet pulp

Did you know that you can reduce the risk of colic by feeding a forage based diet?
Feeding to Prevent Colic

Did you know that an estimated 90% of racehorses and 60% of performance horses have ulcers? Did you know that forage can reduce the risk of ulcers?
Tips for Managing Gastric Ulcers in Performance Horses
Stomach Acid
Food for Thought
How to Feed Horses With Gastric Ulcers
Diet Can Help Manage Equine Gastric Ulcers

Yes, even your performance horse can do well on a forage based diet!
2010 Essen-Gustavsson
2012 Jansson
2013 Ringmark
2017 Ringmark

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