Caring for horses is not an easy task and creating a diet that meets all of their nutritional needs is just as difficult. Like us, horses require a diet that provides adequate nutrition for them to be their best selves! Although most horse owners have the best intentions when creating a diet for their horses, some key nutritional points may be missed. Here are 4 common feeding mistakes that are made by horse owners.
1. Underfeeding Forage:
In the wild, horses can be observed moving and grazing almost constantly. Their bodies are designed to have a steady flow of forage constantly moving through the digestive tract. When a horse is left without food for too long, or fed too little, a bevvy of health issues can follow. For horses who are fed too little, ulcers can develop along with behavioral issues. The simple solution is to feed your horse through a hay net or provide them with smaller meals
multiple times a day allowing them to “trickle feed”. There are many different slow feeder options on the market today so that you can find what is best for you and your horse.
2. Overfeeding concentrated grain/supplements:
Quite commonly many horse owners overfeed their horses' concentrated food and supplements. While horses should have constant access to forage hay, they should not be overfed concentrated feed and supplements as it can quite easily overwhelm their system and lead to health problems. Even though we have the best intentions when we supplement our horses, it is important to read the labels of your supplements to be sure you are not doubling up on nutrients. Grain based feeds should be avoided in general but especially for horses with metabolic disorders. To read more about feeding grains, click here.
3. Not including salt in their diet:
Salt is vital for proper water retention which allows for healthy tissues and organs. Horses have an innate appetite for salt and it is a common nutrient missing in their diets.
You can offer your horse a salt block but they might have a hard time ingesting the amount they need per day. For an average sized horse in light work, 2 tablespoons of salt is recommended. Now here’s the important piece, if your horse is not receiving any grains or supplements you may want to opt for iodized salt. But, if your horse is getting concentrated feeds or supplements, it’s best to read the label of each to see if your horse is getting enough iodine. If there is iodine in their feed, opt for non-iodized salt. Iodine is essential for a healthy thyroid but too much of it can actually damage the thyroid. You can also offer non-iodized salt free choice and allow your horse to self-regulate. Always make sure your horse has constant access to fresh water, especially when they have free access to salt.
4. Not supplementing omegas:
Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are nutrients that horses are unable to create on their own and thus they must be supplemented. Omegas have a multitude of health benefits such as reducing immune system response to allergies, fortifying the digestive tract, aiding in healthy joints and muscles, creating a shiny coat and healthy skin & hooves and much more! It is important to know that when supplementing omegas, it is important to supplement correctly. Omega-3’s have been proven to be anti-inflammatory whereas omega-6’s are inflammatory. Be sure you are selecting a source that has an ideal omega ratio such as chia seeds or a product such as Twenty Four Carrots Inner Glow Booster.
There you have it... These mistakes are common and if you may be making one of them they are thankfully easy to rectify!
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