Feeding a fussy horse or picky eater can be so frustrating, especially if they’re underweight! Other horses seem to develop extraordinary talent at sifting out the supplements they need to be well nourished and healthy.
In this BLOG post, our equine nutritionists have compiled a list of top tips for picky eaters written from personal experience, research results and feedback from other horse owners. Give these a try, and let us know what works best for your horses!
- Introduce new supplements very gradually – start with just a few grams and increase the amount over a period of a week or more.
- Add the supplement to a feed that your horse already likes such as copra, lucerne chaff or pellets.
- Get the moisture level of the whole feed right – not too wet, not too dry. Add water to the hard feed feed and let it all absorb into the feed BEFORE adding any supplements. Stir dry supplements through the damp feed. Supplements stick best in slightly damp feeds but some horses prefer to eat feeds dry. Most horses dislike sloppy mush.
- Try adding lucerne chaff to the feed to improve palatability.
- Adding something sweet can help disguise the taste of new ingredients. Try a little bit of grated carrot, grated apple, sweet potato, apple sauce or molasses. Make a smoothie or slushy in the blender with the supplements as well as your horse’s choice of carrots, apples or bananas.
- Some horses love the taste of apple cider vinegar, fenugreek, oil or salt and these can also be used to mask supplements.
- Investigate why your horse is fussy. Picky eaters used to sweet high sugar/starch feeds often do better on ulcer-friendly, low starch alternatives such as beet pulp, soy or lupin hulls, lupins and/or copra rather than cereal grains or by-products such as bran, pollard, and millrun. This is especially true for horses with gastric ulcers. Always read the ingredients list of bagged or pelleted feeds so you know what you are feeding! It can take months to convince these horses to make the change but is usually worth the effort.
- Has anything changed in your horse’s forage source? Improvements in pasture quality aren’t always obvious and can affect appetite – horses filling up on delicious grass won’t always want a hard feed. A new batch of hay can also be nicer and more filling.
- Although we often hear about ingestion of mycotoxins causing excitable behaviour, mycotoxins can cause lethargy, depression, reduced appetite and ability to digest/utilise feed effectively. Try a broad-spectrum toxin binder such as Farmalogic Grazaid, especially in damp conditions.
- Some fussy horses don’t need enough hard feed to successfully disguise powdered supplements. Look for palatable, pelleted supplements such as Equine Vit&Min Premium Balancer Pellets from your local feed store or www.farmalogic.com.au.
Need more help? Our team of friendly university qualified nutritionists are happy to help with customised recommendations tailored for your horse and situation. Send us an email today!