Feeding advice

  1. Always provide access to fresh, clean water – On average the horse drinks 25-30 litres per day (5 litres per 100kg of bodyweight). Horses need water to aid digestion and will not eat without having enough to drink.
  2. Forage first – forage (fibre) should be the basis of your horse's diet. This helps maintain gut function, fulfils behavioural needs and helps maintain body temperature. The forage content should make up 75%-100% of the diet and never fall below 50%. Feeding fibre before concentrates helps maximise nutrient extraction by slowing down digestion rates and the passage of food. 
  3. Feed little and often – horses’ stomachs are relatively small - approximately the size of a rugby ball. Divide meals into several small feeds rather than one or two large feeds, generally, no more than 2kg per feed (for a 500kg horse) and add chaff to concentrates. The horses stomach works more effectively half to three-quarters full, than full.
  4. Do not work after feeding – generally wait an hour after feeding concentrates before exercising. Forage can be fed ad lib providing adequate warm-up is given. The digestive system may also be compromised if fed concentrates straight after exercise. 
  5. Make any dietary changes gradually – to all feed and forage. Sudden changes may cause gastrointestinal upset, diarrhoea and colic. Gradual changes allow adaptation of the microbial population in the hindgut minimising risk of digestive upset. 
  6. Feed each horse as an individual – according to weight, breed, type, age, temperament, workload, health status and time of the year.
  7. Feed good quality feedstuffs – good quality forages and concentrates will provide the best sources of nutrients. 
  8. Keep to regular feed times – horses are creatures of habit and the absence of an expected feed can cause anxiety.

Do not be afraid to ask for help! Providing your horse with a nutritious, balanced diet is crucial to health, performance and wellbeing.