Wormer

Why should forage be the main part of a horse’s diet?

Horses need the right diet to ensure they are healthy. However, you have to look closely at what you are feeding them and when. It is also crucial to think about the time of year and amount of work the horse does. That can help you to adapt the horse feed to maintain weight and health.

If you talk to an equine nutritionist or vet they will likely tell you that forage should be the main part of a horse’s diet. They have evolved specifically to allow this. Originally the whole equidae family were browsers. However, millions of years of evolution later and they are now grazers. Many parts of their physiology focus on forage and there may be health problems if you don’t give them access to it.

Dentition

The teeth of horses are one of most important things here. They erupt slowly and continuously to account for almost constant grinding. It is important to give the animals forage so they have to grind their teeth. What that does is ensure they keep pace with the eruption, ensures even wear, and reduces the risk of overgrowth.

Saliva

There are a number of things in saliva that are crucial for dental health, including water, antimicrobial agents, and electrolytes to maintain the pH. Horses can only produce it when they chew. So, it is better to give them forage so they chew more and salivate. There will be less chewing and salivation with grains and pellet horse feed.

Stomach

Horses are continuous grazers because they have a very small stomach. What that means is they tend to eat small amounts over the course of a day rather than large meals like humans.

Forage is important for stomach health for a number of reasons. Firstly, it contains more moisture, especially when it is pasture grass. That in turn promotes a better gastric rate of passage. In turn it allows continuous passage and can maintain the pH balance in the stomach.

Eating forage before grain and horse feed is a wise idea. It can reduce the grain fermentation in the hindgut and tackles bacteria growth. Overall it can improve stomach health and reduce the risk of ulcers.

Large intestine

In addition, passage through a horse’s large intestine is slower. They have evolved this so they can better digest insoluble fibres in plant walls. To maximise intestine health, it is important to feed them enough forage to include these fibres.

Talk to us about animal feed

While forage is vital for horses, there are still many cases when you need to choose other feeds. For example you may need a complete feed in pellet form if an older horse has dental issues. Or it could be that you need to provide it for weight gain or recovery from illness. You just need to make sure you get the whole diet right.

JS Hubbuck Ltd has a great selection of products to help here. We stock horse feed as well as feeds for various other animals. Our prices are great and we can arrange delivery too. You can even ask us for advice if you have specific nutritional goals in mind.