Cost-Efficient Feeding

Forage analysis and judicial use of concentrates and supplements can help you get the most bang for your buck

No account yet? Register

Forage analysis and judicial use of commercial concentrates and supplements can help you get the most bang for your buck

We all know the importance of a well-balanced diet to our horses’ overall health; our veterinarians, farriers, feed store owners, and nutritionists drive that message home on a regular basis. However, how we reach that point of balance can vary greatly and can impact our pocketbooks significantly. In general, if we are willing to put in the extra little legwork, we (and our horses) might get significantly more out of our feed and, perhaps, even save some money in the process.

Assessing a horse’s diet accurately is a key part of that legwork. Using the National Research Council’s Nutrient Requirements of Horses (2007), you can estimate your horse’s energy, protein, calcium, and phosphorus requirements, among others, using information such as body weight, activity level, and physiologic status (in a period of growth, lactation, etc.).

Once you know your horse’s nutritional requirements, you can look at your available feedstuffs and determine how they contribute to meeting these requirements. In general, we feed our horses a blend of forages (hay or pasture), concentrates (grains and grain mixes, often commercially formulated mixed rations), and sometimes supplements. To balance a ration, start by looking at the nutrients the forages provide and add concentrates and supplements as needed to meet any deficiencies. Typically, forages are the least expensive part of the diet, while commercial concentrates and supplements are the priciest. Thus, if you can maximize the amount of forage you feed, which in fact meets many of your horse’s nutritional needs, you can potentially save money

Create a free account with to view this content. is home to thousands of free articles about horse health care. In order to access some of our exclusive free content, you must be signed into

Start your free account today!

Already have an account?
and continue reading.


Written by:

Shannon Pratt-Phillips, PhD, received her Master of Science from the University of Kentucky and her Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Guelph, focusing on equine nutrition and exercise physiology. Pratt-Phillips joined the faculty at North Carolina State University in 2006, where she currently teaches equine nutrition in the Department of Animal Science. She is the director of the Distance Education Animal Science Programs, which includes the Master of Animal Science program, and her field of research focuses on glucose metabolism, insulin resistance, obesity, and laminitis prevention and management in horses.

Related Articles

Stay on top of the most recent Horse Health news with

FREE weekly newsletters from

Sponsored Content

Weekly Poll

sponsored by:

When do you begin to prepare/stock up on products/purchase products for these skin issues?
108 votes · 108 answers

Readers’ Most Popular

Sign In

Don’t have an account? Register for a FREE account here.

Need to update your account?

You need to be logged in to fill out this form

Create a free account with!