Last week we discussed healthy spring feeding tips for the underweight horse. Now it’s time to address how to feed the overweight horse when the grass starts to come in and there seems to be food to be had everywhere.
Use the following strategies to decrease calories in your horse’s diet. Remember to keep checking your horse’s condition frequently so he doesn’t lose too much weight!
Step 1: Evaluate how much hay your horse is eating.
- Consider changing the type of hay you feed. Mature grass hay has fewer calories than straight alfalfa or a mixed hay.
- Feed several times per day to limit the amount of time your horse goes without hay between meals.
- Horses need at least 1.25% of their body weight in hay per day. You can cut back on any extra.
Still need to shed calories? Move on to step 2.
Step 2: Cut back or stop the amount of concentrate you are feeding.
- Concentrate is meant to be fed at a minimum level, usually 3 to 5 pounds per day.
- If your horse isn’t getting the recommended minimum level of concentrate (refer to feed tag), you can add a daily vitamin and mineral supplement.
To see how spring pasture affects overweight horses, move on to step 3.
Step 3: Consider that spring pasture can be dangerous for your overweight horse.
- Additional sugar and calories from spring pasture can put stress on the digestive and metabolic systems and can cause colic or laminitis.
- Consider limiting pasture entirely in the spring if your horse is overweight.
- Turn out in a dry lot or use a muzzle to reduce the amount of grass consumed.
- Reintroduce pasture very slowly and in small amounts once your horse loses the desired weight.
- One hour of grazing on good pasture = eating 1 pound of good grass hay.
Supplements for overweight horses
Providing needed nutrients without extra calories. Micro-Phase can replace the concentrate portion of
the meal for overweight horses.
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