forage diet cowgirl magazine

Many owners are realizing the benefits of a forage-based diet for their horse. These diets utilize grass products like pasture, hay, and pellets or cubed hay. Because horses are intended to graze throughout the day, this is a more natural way to feed your horse. Supplements or balancers are also used for nutritional support.

The Basics of a Forage Diet

  • Forage intake is 1.5-2.5% of their bodyweight. This varies based on if your horse needs to gain, maintain, or lose weight.
  • Forage-based carrier consists of hay pellets (like timothy) and beet pulp.
  • Mineral balancer, such as Vermont Blend or CA Trace Plus.
  • Plain white salt is offered: 1-2oz daily.
  • Vitamin E at 1-2iu/lb of bodyweight.
  • Stabilized ground flax can be added for additional calories.

Ideally, you’ll be able to send a hay and/or pasture sample out for testing. This will allow you to supplement any deficiencies found in it. If that’s not possible, then you can use a general mineral balancer based on your region. A nutritionist can formulate a diet to meet your horse’s individual needs. You can also do research on your own!

A forage-based diet can be used with hard or easy keepers, competition horses, those with metabolic disorders or sugar sensitivities. Many horses do wonderful on it! Horse owners have noticed a decrease in ulcer and gut problems. Their horses also have an improved mental state.

Remember, any changes to your horse’s diet should be done gradually.