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Feed Like a Champion: Expert Tips for Selecting the Best Horse and Equine Feed

As a horse or equine owner, you’re constantly wanting to provide the best care possible – and nutrition is a key component to keeping horses, ponies, donkeys, and mules healthy and happy. Like humans, equines need a balanced diet to maintain optimal health and performance. From the arena to the pasture, supply your horse with the nutrients they need to feel and look their best. Learn how to feed like a champion with these expert tips for selecting the best feed for your horse.  



Assess Your Horse’s Needs


Every equine is unique in their body composition, conformation, and nutritional needs. Their age, breed, activity level, and overall health will also affect their energy requirements. Before choosing their horse feed, consider your Horse’s specific needs. Are they a performance horse, expending more than average calories each day? Are they an easy-keeper, able to maintain their weight on pasture? Are they getting on in years and need pellets that are more easily digested? All these factors affect which type of feed is best for your equine.


The most common types of horse feed are:


●     Performance

●     Maintenance

●     Senior


If your horse has specific health conditions or digestive concerns, consult with your veterinarian to discuss feed options to fit their specific needs.


Performance Horse Feed


Performance horses require significantly more calories than pleasure or pasture horses. Because of their activity level, performance horses need a feed formulated to support their increased energy requirements. Protein, fat, and micronutrients are some of the adjusted ratios you’ll find in a balanced performance horse feed to make their calories more digestible and readily available. Performance horse feed may also be recommended for horses that have trouble keeping weight on, horses that are growing, or for mature horses needing a calorie boost. 



Maintenance Horse Feed


Maintenance horse feed is recommended for horses, ponies, donkeys, and mules that are lightly exercised, or that spend the majority of their time in the pasture. Balanced maintenance horse feeds supply nutrients equines require that they may not be getting from forage or grass. The steady release of calories in this formulation helps horses feel full for longer, which is ideal for maintaining a healthy weight. Pleasure horses, companion equines, and easy-keepers are all good candidates for maintenance horse feed. 


Senior Horse Feed


Specially formulated for aging equines, senior horse feed is more palatable and easily digested than other types of feed. Similar to performance feed, a complete senior horse feed has increased protein, energy, digestible fiber, vitamins, and minerals to support an increased demand for calories. Senior horse feed is formulated to be softer to chew than other types of feed and helps keep weight on older equines.


Analyze Nutritional Content


All types of equine feeds need to be nutritionally balanced. Analyze the protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals on the labels of different types of horse feed. Horses with higher energy requirements will need a higher percentage of these in their feed. For example, maintenance horse feed typically contains 8-12% protein, while performance or senior horse feeds can be found containing 14-16% protein.


Choose High-Quality Ingredients


Choosing a reputable brand of horse feed is one of the best ways to ensure your horse is getting high-quality ingredients in their diet. Cheap fillers or unnecessary additives can lead to digestive upset and colic in sensitive horses, so it’s important to know where your feed comes from.


Provide Forage


Forage is critical in maintaining your horse’s digestive health and should make up the majority of their diet. Ideally through a combination of quality hay and pasture. Your horse, pony, donkey, or mule should consume 1-2% of their body weight in forage each day. So, for a 1,000 lb horse, this equates to 10-20 lbs of hay and grass per day. If forage is not in ideal condition, or is not readily available, you’ll need to supplement it through their feed. Some horse feeds are also high in fiber/forage content, not just alfalfa pellets. I will have our nutritionist weigh in on this.


Monitor Body Condition and Performance


No matter what you choose to feed your equines, you’ll need to monitor their body condition and overall energy levels and behavior. Evaluate their topline, neck, abdomen, and rump to assess their body condition. Each horse is different, so be sure to familiarize yourself with what’s normal for each equine you own. Your veterinarian, feed specialist or an equine nutritionist can help you determine if your horses are meeting their feed requirements.


Introduce Changes Gradually


Like any animal that is accustomed to eating the same thing everyday, introduce dietary changes to your equines slowly. Avoid increasing or changing your horse’s feed all at once, and slowly incorporate new feed or hay into their diet gradually over the course of 10-14 days. Monitor your equines closely for any digestive upset throughout this transition period, and make sure they always have access to plenty of fresh, clean water.


Feed Moore


For more than 150 years, the Moore family has farmed the banks of the Brazos river, and today provides quality and affordable feed for equine owners all across Central Texas. Thomas Moore Feed has a commitment to the highest levels of quality when it comes to feeding your horses and other livestock. Find a dealer near you, or contact us for expert advice for feeding your horses and other equines. 



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