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What do horses eat?
About twenty years ago, no one could have imagined that horses can eat something else besides hay, oats, and grass. However, today, it is a whole new industry. Feeding horses have become the activity of many scientists in dozens of laboratories in the world. It is safe to say that now is a whole complex science that requires a specific approach.
Like humans, horses have an individual character, a peculiarity of the body, a constitution, and therefore the necessary amount of food. Horse food should provide the body with all the essential nutrients and depend on the purpose of use of the animal. The diet of domestic animals consists of roughage and concentrates. But the feeding of a wild horse is entirely different. Let`s talk about everything in order.
In the wild
The diet of horses in different regions is different and depends on the area. In more adverse climatic conditions, wild horses can eat small branches of bushes and even bite the bark of trees. But in the southern latitudes, the animals are adapted to softer lush grass. In the steppe regions, the horses eat tall grasses and plants with dense stems.
In the householdIn the process of domestication, men had to feed his animals properly and more thoroughly. After all, they worked almost the whole day: they plowed, drove, fought, dragged cargo and so on. Now, grass and hay were not enough for the horse to properly carry out its service. The ratio of horses began to include grain and various milling products to maintain the energy of the animals. A little later, with the development of the equestrian sport, even more concentrated, nutritious food was required, in the form of bran, mixed feed and all sorts of vitamin premixes.
The diet of racehorses depends on many factors. Animal technicians take into account the sex of the animal, age and direction of work, state of health, season, constitution, breed, and so on. During the training and testing period, the diet may change every day. Therefore, there is no perfect diet. It is best to say that it is individual but necessarily balanced.
At home, animals eat grain, hay, grass, roots, concentrated supplies, bran, vitamin supplements. It is the basis of the diet of any healthy horse. But when our modern racers eat and eat, let`s talk in more details.
How and what to feed?As we have said, horse diet and the amount depends on the use and work of the animal. Therefore, now we give only the common indicators of what and how much, domestic horses eat. For example, a horse weighing 450-500 kilograms per day will need about 6 kilograms of oats, 7-10 kilograms of hay, up to 6 kilograms of root crops (beets or carrots), and about 2 kilograms of bran. This fact is in addition to fresh grass in the summer during grazing and treats in the form of apples, cabbage or crackers. Also, the menu should be diversified and well-balanced with special vitamin supplements, depending on the gender and age of the animal.
Feeding horses should be done at a particular time depending on the schedule and mode of the day in small portions. The correct way is to give the horse three meals a day, for example, in the morning after sleep, in the afternoon and the evening. Also, the horse should always have fresh hay in the feeder and a separate tanks for salt. In summer, in their free time, animals have released on pasture.
Diet structureAll horse zootechnics are conventionally divided into two groups: bulky - grass, hay, straw, and concentrated - grain and grain products. However, they divide these groups into even smaller ones. For example, they divide bulk food into coarse - hay and straw, and juicy - grass, haylage. They divide concentrates into grains, roots and other additives, such as bran. The most fundamental difference between these all feeds is nutrition and energy.
If we talk about how to feed, then it all depends on the work. A horse that works a lot should get a lot of concentrates, but animals at light work do not need a lot of them. However, it is important to note that from a physiological point of view, the first group of nutrition is more crucial for maintaining health than the second one. The proportion of bulk feed should be from 60 to 80% of the daily requirement. But the number of concentrates should not exceed 40%.
The grass is the main fodder of a horse in any conditions, be it on a farm or in an equestrian sports complex. It is the one that is best digested and gives the maximum nutrients to the animal. Unfortunately, in modern conditions, horses on the stables are not always possible to provide high-quality grazing, so stablemen deliver grass in a freshly mown form or haylage.
Hay is the second most important type of food that is also well digested and useful. It is well suited as a primary feed in the winter season and for stable maintenance. But the hay must necessarily be properly harvested. Otherwise, the benefits will be zero. It should smell good, have a yellowish-green color, have a moisture content of not more than 17%, without dust and mold. The most valuable cereal hays are bluegrass and fescue.
It is also an excellent type of food, especially to diversify the diet. Moreover, in Germany, haylage is the main feed for racehorses. It is because its nutritional value is higher than that of hay and is comparable to grass. However, it is necessary to accustom to this type of feed of horses, gradually, so as not to cause problems with digestion. Since haylage contains a lot of moisture, its daily rate may be one and a half times higher than hay.
Grass meal or grains
Grains are a prevalent modern type of food, which we produce from legumes, such as lucerne. It is a nutritious and healthy food, which occupies an intermediate place between bulk and concentrated groups. For the preparation of granules, you need to dry fresh grass instantly, crushed and pressed. That is why they contain many vitamins and nutrients. It is recommended to add to the diet from 1.5 to 3 kg of granules.
Oats are an ideal food for horses from this group. It provides the necessary energy, and the fibrous membrane does not allow the animal to eat too quickly. The only flaw of oats is the low ratio of calcium to phosphorus; therefore, in addition to the diet should include calcined supplements. Also, if the horse is very active, you should not give a full dose of oats. It is beneficial to give rolled oats, which retains value for two weeks after processing.
The calorie content of this grain exceeds oats, but it has a low fiber content. This cereal is good for sports and workhorses in flattened, crushed form or flakes after heat treatment. Before feeding, it should be softened, for example, by steaming, to improve absorption.
This type of grain contains a lot of starch but is very poor in protein and fiber. You can give corn in the form of flakes or flour, as a dietary supplement to the basic diet. It can be provided only in small quantities to increase the strength and excitability of the animal. For example, before a race or enhanced training.
Bran is a by-product of wheat that contains a lot of fiber. It is a dietary type of food, so it is best to give it to horses during the rest period or for those who are not involved in complex work. It is advisable to give in a mixture with other foods or in the form of porridge. For example, pour bran in boiling water, add salt and keep it for several hours.
Compound FeedCompound feed is a mix of concentrates in the form of granules. You can make it from various ingredients. Today, there are specially developed compound feed for all groups of horses, for example, for stallions, foals, mares, for racehorses and so on. They are very convenient to use and allow you always to maintain the health of the animal. Compound feeds simplify the process of feeding horses on large farms and stud farms.
WateringHorse health and performance need a lot of water. One horse takes about 60 liters per day. You can organize watering in two ways: either to give water at a specific time or to install automatic drinkers. The second option of these two is better and more acceptable for large stables and farms.
What do horses eat
What do horses eat - About twenty years ago, no one could have imagined that horses can eat something else besides hay, oats, and grass. However, today, it is a whole new industry. Feeding horses have become the activity of many scientists in dozens of laboratories in the world. It is safe to say that now is a whole complex science that requires a specific approach.