If Not Hay, Bedding: Give Horses Something to Chew on Overnight
The night hours for stalled horses can seem terribly long, especially when it means there’s nothing to eat until morning. For their health and welfare, horses need to have something to munch on during the night hours, say German scientists—whether it’s a constant supply of forage or the straw they sleep on.
(Editor’s note: Straw should be high quality and, like any forage, introduced slowly. Rye straw can contain ergot alkaloids, which can be poisonous to livestock, including horses. See “Use Caution When Bedding Horses on Rye Straw” for more information. Straw ingestion can also increase impaction colic risk. Consult with your veterinarian or an equine nutritionist before making changes to your horse’s diet or introducing edible straw.)
“Feeding practices must take into consideration the natural feeding behavior of horses, ensuring that neither during the day nor at night do horses have to pause their feed intake for longer than four hours,” said Miriam Baumgartner, Dr. med. vet., PostDoc at the Technical University of Munich, Germany; chair of organic agriculture and agronomy in the School of Life Sciences Weihenstephan; and part of the Ethology, Animal Husbandries, and Animal Welfare Research
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