Designing Your Horse’s Diet
A step-by-step approach to ration-balancing
To some, listening to fingernails on a chalkboard sounds more pleasing than sitting down to balance a horse’s diet. But it’s an important part of horse ownership. The National Research Council’s (NRC) Committee on Nutrient Requirements for Horses (who authored a document of the same name in 2007), states that the goal of any equine diet is to “provide nutrients that efficiently maintain a horse’s body and well-being and support functions related to growth, production, and work.” The committee advises the government on the nutrients required by all equids.
Whether building a plan for feeding a new horse or troubleshooting a current horse’s diet to see what could be missing, ration evaluation is key to health and performance. With the NRC’s requirements as our guide, we’ll take on ration-balancing one step at a time. So embrace your inner mathematician, and let’s get started.
Step 1. The Steed Deets
First things first: Gather information about the equid you’re feeding. The NRC publishes tables of data (available here: nrc88.nas.edu/nrh) listing daily requirements for energy, protein, vitamins, and minerals based on a horse’s weight and physiological class (think growing, pregnant, lactating, or performance). But creating a balanced diet depends on more than just science. There’s an art form to feeding horses—the “equine factor” will play an influential role and must be considered on a case-by-case basis,
Create a free account with TheHorse.com to view this content.
Stay on top of the most recent Horse Health news with