Are your horses as healthy & happy as they can be?

Download your free ‘7 habits of happy healthy horses’ checklist

08 January 2013 New Year’s Nutri-lutions: Maintain your horse at a healthy weight

Determining and monitoring your horse’s weight is a simple and essential part of your horse’s health maintenance plan.  Not only does it help you to calculate the right amount of feed to give, but it also helps to determine any drug doses, such as anthelmintics, that need to be administered.  More importantly, it is an objective way to alert you to any potential health problems (if he gains or loses weight).

weight tape

Make a serious commitment to monitor your horse’s body weight on a monthly basis and be strict about keeping it under control.  While a few modifications to your bathroom scales may be enough to avoid excess airline baggage fees, don’t try a similar method with your horse.  If you do not have access to livestock weight scales, a simple weight tape designed for horses can be used (even a piece of string will help to gauge if he’s gained or lost).  Or, if you’re looking for a more accurate indicator of weight, measure his heart, girth and body length in inches and use the following equation:   Weight (lbs) = Girth2 (in) x length (in)/330.  Or click here to get a nifty online calculator.  Much like our weight, daily fluctuations are normal; up to about 50lbs per day in the average size horse (about 1,000lbs), but any more than this should be addressed.

Body Condition Scoring is another important factor in determining an appropriate and healthy weight for your horse.  We’ll be covering that in more depth in a later blog post.

05 January 2013 New Year’s Nutri-lutions: Eliminate unnecessary supplements

If your feedroom shelf looks like this, it’s time to re-evaluate your supplementsfeeding strategy!  I have been in my soap box a number of times about this, here and here, in 2012, and I’m sure 2013 will see me up there again, but invest your money wisely on evaluating and implementing a feeding regime that is simple, economical, and more appropriate for your horse’s digestive system and dietary needs.  If your feed room shelves are full of heavily-marketed, quick-fix-it-all, unregulated hype, AKA nutriceuticals, you’re likely looking at hundred’s of dollars of misplaced nutritional effort.  Evaluate the fundamental basics first, i.e. FORAGE, then supplement only if needed.  Supplements do not make healthy, happy horses, happier or healthier…end of story.

04 January 2013 New Year’s Nutri-lutions: Ponder your pasture!

grasses_native

Start paying more attention to your pasture than your feedstore; it’s a much more reliable, economical, and appropriate first-choice source of equine nutrition.  Just like your hay, pasture can be evaluated too, although values will vary due to a number of factors.  Nonetheless, good pasture can provide the majority of nutrients for most classes of horses, at a fraction of the cost.  Knowing more about pasture management and grazing strategies will ensure your bagged feed costs are kept to a minimum, and may even be eradicated completely.  Not only will this benefit your wallet, it will result in better environmental management, encourage a sustainable management system, and ultimately ensure a happier, healthier horse.

03 January 2013 New Year’s Nutri-lutions: Get your hay analyzed

hay analysisThis is easy to do and the results will give you a better picture of how adequate your horse’s diet is.  If you are not performing this important step in your horse’s nutrition program, then you are potentially undermining your horse’s health, performance, and longevity….just keep in mind, there are many over-fed, malnourished horses!

Depending on the quality of your hay (and pasture), you may or may not need to feed additional concentrates and/or supplements.  The better quality your hay is, the less you will need to supplement this essential part of his diet.  This will lead to significant savings in feed bills, and will ensure a healthier, happier, better-fed horse!

02 January 2013 New Year’s Nutri-lutions: Make forage first in your horse’s diet

If there’s one thing ALL horses were made to do, really well, it’s eat!!  By continually grazing throughout most of the day and night, horses can process enormous amounts of plant fiber to meet their nutritional needs.  Quite simply, your horse’s digestive system NEEDS forage flowing through it constantly to support his natural digestive function and instinctual grazing behavior.

The horse is the genuine whizz-kid of hardiness.  Thanks to millions of years of evolutionary design, he sports a unique digestive system, optimally designed to make the most of his continuous, high fiber eating habits.  While forages alone may not be enough for some horses, and additional calories and nutrients may need to be provided in a more concentrated form, forage from pasture and hay is the foundation of your horse’s diet, and should therefore be your first priority when designing your feeding program.

In The Arena

ABC Radio
ABC Radio
University of Edinburgh
University of Edinburgh
The Horse
The Horse
Red Hills International
Red Hills International
JEVS
JEVS
Horses and people
Horses and people
hoofbeats magazine
hoofbeats magazine
Chris stafford radio
Chris stafford radio