Feeding Schedule for Horses

Horses October 28, 2014 Print Friendly and PDF

Ashley Griffin, University of Kentucky

Space multiple feedings throughout the day.

The horse's digestive system is designed to allow small quantities of food to pass through continually during the day. This means that the horse is a continuous grazer. Horses were not designed to consume large quantities of food at a single feeding. Therefore, good feeding management requires that feedings be spaced throughout the day. Numerous small feedings are better than one large one. Horses should be fed a minimum of twice a day. Three or four times a day would be better.

Feed horses according to their work schedule. If a horse is worked in the morning, feed it one-third of the concentrate and a small portion of hay in the morning and a larger portion of hay with the grain at the noon feeding. If no exercise is induced in the evening, the nighttime feeding of concentrate and forage can offered at the same time. 

Feed daily at set feeding times.

Horses are creatures of habit and need to be fed at a consistent time each day, with a consistent quality of feed. Horses come to expect to be fed at set times each day. If too much variation in time or quality of feed exists, it can lead to digestive disturbances. Erratic schedules will annoy horses, and they may develop stall vices such as kicking, raking their teeth on the stall, or cribbing. Digestive disorders can occur due to an overly hungry horse bolting its feed. It is important to remember to set times for feeding and feed at those times 365 days a year.

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.