Nutrition Primer

Many common terms come from the long experience of man with horse, and some perhaps should be applied to the modern experience of raising horses. One of them, where feeds are concerned, might be penny wise and pound foolish.”
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Many common terms come from the long experience of man with horse, and some perhaps should be applied to the modern experience of raising horses. One of them, where feeds are concerned, might be “penny wise and pound foolish.”

Kenneth Kopp, DVM, manager of horse feed at the Central Atlantic cooperative Southern States Inc., said a serious mistake made by horse owners is basing nutrition strictly on the cost per bag of feed or bale of hay. A common problem is the “owners or managers who purchase the cheapest hay and try to make up the difference with grain concentrates,” Kopp said. This logic is a losing battle for both horse and budget. Quality forage–hay and pasture–is the foundation of good health.

“The basic needs for a grain concentrate are for energy (calories) supplementation, and as a vehicle for vitamins and minerals,” Kopp said.

To have a healthy horse, “we must first concentrate on a quality forage program,” Kopp said. The horse is designed by nature to be a wandering herbivore. Because of their small stomachs, horses given the choice will graze slowly for about 20 hours a day. Man has taken this ideal environment away from many horses and domesticated them into a box stall with interval meals of poor-quality hay and grain

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