5 Practical Research-Based Horse Feeding Considerations

It’s one of the most common questions an owner asks: What should I feed my horse? Equine nutritionists look both to research and their own experience to find an answer, but oftentimes the most appropriate one is, “Well, it depends.” Here are some points they might take into account.
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Research-Based Horse Feeding Considerations
Diets are built around forage first, but it can be challenging to know exactly what the horse is consuming. Lawrence said she generally estimates hay intake to be 2% of body weight. | Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse

It’s one of the most common questions an owner asks: What should I feed my horse? Equine nutritionists look both to research and their own experience to answer this question. Besides considering life stage and activity level, they must weigh variables such as environment, climate, genetics, and health conditions, which can alter the horse’s needs and lead to, perhaps, the most appropriate answer to this question: “Well, it depends.”

The Kentucky Equine Research (KER) Conference 2018, held Oct. 29-30, in Lexington, ended with a roundtable session on putting feeding requirements—particularly those outlined in the National Research Council’s (NRC) Nutrient Requirements of Horses Sixth Revised Edition, 2007—into practice around the world. Pat Harris MA, VetMB, PhD, Dipl. ECVCN, MRCVS, from the WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition and MARS Horsecare, based in the U.K.; Peter Huntington, BVSc, MANZCVSc, director of nutrition at KER’s Australasian facility, in Victoria, Australia; and Laurie Lawrence, PhD, professor of equine nutrition at the University of Kentucky, in Lexington, fielded questions posed by moderator Joe D. Pagan, PhD, founder and president of KER, with main headquarters in Versailles, Kentucky.

Here are five take-home messages for horse owners from this session

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Stephanie L. Church, Editorial Director, grew up riding and caring for her family’s horses in Central Virginia and received a B.A. in journalism and equestrian studies from Averett University. She joined The Horse in 1999 and has led the editorial team since 2010. A 4-H and Pony Club graduate, she enjoys dressage, eventing, and trail riding with her former graded-stakes-winning Thoroughbred gelding, It Happened Again (“Happy”). Stephanie and Happy are based in Lexington, Kentucky.

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