Adult horses dietary needs are generally easily met, but those in hard work will need an increased energy content to the feed but rarely require an increase in protein levels. Supplementing with vegetable oils and increasing the concentrate ration, while still offering forage, can easily achieve this.
Types of Horse Protein Total Feed a day:
- Adult horses performing minimal exercise: 9-10 % 1.5 – 2% of body weight
- Adult horses performing heavy exercise: 9-10% 2.0 – 3.0% BW
- Pregnant mares, last trimester: 14 -16% 1.5 – 3% BW
- Early Lactation: 16% 2 – 3% BW
- Older horses,> ~20 yrs. 10-11% 1.5- 2.5% BW
- Nursing foals 16% Milk/Creep feed
- Weanling foals – 1 year 14-16% 2 – 3/3.5% BW
1-3 years 12-14% 1.5 – 2.5% BW
Pregnant mares in the last trimester require increased protein content and must have readily available minerals, vitamins and salts in balanced amounts. These requirements are usually met by a good quality broodmare pellet or mix. Mares with newborn foals have similar requirements but need a higher energy value, as the energy used up from producing milk in the first few months is extremely high.
Geriatric Horses (>20yrs) require careful consideration with respect to their feeding. They require highly digestible energy feed due to the decreased efficiency of their digestive tract, they also tend to have dental problems thus food should be highly palatable and easily chewable. Feed may need to be soaked or given in small regular amounts to safe guard against the risk of developing ‘choke’ or impaction colic.
Young stock have high protein, energy, vitamin and mineral requirements which are best formulated in a balanced ration by a commercially produced feed, with forage given ad lib.