How Much Energy Is Your Forage Providing, Presented by Kentucky Performance Products

Most equestrians know that a horse’s diet should be centered on forage, but how do you know if your forage is providing enough nutritional value or energy? Read on to learn more:

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When reviewing your horse’s diet, it is best to determine the amount of forage fed by weight instead of volume. The weight of a flake of hay can vary depending on the size and type of bale. You don’t have to weigh your hay out each time you feed; instead, take the average weight of multiple flakes and use that as a good estimate.

Remember to calculate a new average each time you get a load of hay. Horses should consume at least 1.5% to 2% of body weight per day in forage. Estimate how much energy the forage portion of your horse’s diet is providing. Energy levels can be noted as kcal (kilocalories) per pound or Mcal (megacalories) per pound. The terms kcal and calorie are often used interchangeably. 1 Mcal = 1,000 kcal.

How to estimate the calories your forage is contributing.

kcal per lb in your forage X amount of forage you are feeding = calories from forage

Average digestible energy content of common forages and pasture*

  • Legume – 1,193 kcal/ lb
  • Mixed hay (mostly legume) – 1,060 kcal/lb
  • Mixed hay (mostly grass) – 935 kcal/lb
  • Grass hay – 909 kcal/lb
  • Bermuda grass hay – 944 kcal/lb
  • Alfalfa cubes/pellets – 1,086 kcal/lb
  • Lush pasture (mostly grass; some legume) – 1,172 kcal/lb
  • Lush pasture (grass) – 1,028 kcal/lb

*Source of digestible energy averages: Equi-Analytical Laboratories, Ithaca, New York 14850

You can download a printable version of this infographic here.

About Kentucky Performance Products, LLC:

Micro-Phase™ is vet recommended for horses with metabolic syndrome.

Managing a horse with metabolic syndrome can be particularly challenging. You can trust Micro-Phase to provide the nutrients your horse needs without the starch and sugar that cause insulin spikes. Micro-Phase contains a safe level of protein, plus natural vitamins and chelated minerals that are readily digestible.

Click here for an update on Equine Metabolic Syndrome/Insulin Dysregulation Research.

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