Your Horse Needs Forage Even at Night

More than four hours without feed is fasting for a horse and can lead to issues. The solution for evening feeding? Slow feeders extended nighttime “grazing” time by 95-105%, researchers observed.
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Your Horse Needs Forage Even at Night
When horses are allowed to graze at will, they typically forage about 10 to 14 hours per day. | Photo: iStock

Night falls, and it’s time for bed. Your horse has had his last hay meal of the day and is comfortably in his freshly cleaned stall for a good night’s sleep. All’s well, right?

Actually, if you’ve fed loose hay, you might be the only one enjoying a comfortable evening. According to Irish and Scottish researchers, horses can consume loose haylage quickly and end up waiting so many hours before their morning meal that it could affect their health.

“Recent recommendations highlight that when horses go more than four hours without food, they’re technically fasting,” said Barbara Hardman, a postgraduate MSc from the University of Edinburgh’s Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, in Scotland. “Foraging (the behavior of consuming forage) is a ‘highly motivated’ behavior for horses, meaning that it’s critical that they perform it for not only their gut health but their mental health, as well

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Passionate about horses and science from the time she was riding her first Shetland Pony in Texas, Christa Lesté-Lasserre writes about scientific research that contributes to a better understanding of all equids. After undergrad studies in science, journalism, and literature, she received a master’s degree in creative writing. Now based in France, she aims to present the most fascinating aspect of equine science: the story it creates. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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