“My friend/neighbour/instructor/lady in the feed store told me that I should feed my horse a premixed/complete bagged horse feed otherwise he’s not getting everything he needs. Is that right?”
“That is not correct.”
You can make up your own horse feed to provide everything your horse needs from just a few quality ingredients – if you know what is needed and how much of each to include.
It’s a bit like baking a birthday cake. You can buy a cake ready-made from a supermarket or bakery – this saves time and offers a guaranteed result, but may not be quite your preferred choice of ingredients (e.g. if you’re vegan, celiac or wish to avoid preservatives for example).
Or, you can bake your own cake, using the same or very similar ingredients as the shop-bought one. Nutritionally the two cakes will be the same or similar. And if you have special dietary requirements, the home-mixed cake can be nutritionally superior to the pre-made one.
The same is true for horse feeds. If you read the ingredients list on a bag of pre-mixed feeds, you’ll be able to see what is included in the mix. Usually there’ll be cereal grains, cereal by-products or super-fibres as the main ingredients, often followed by protein meals, oils and then vitamins, minerals and specialty additives such as probiotics in some cases.
The advantages of using pre-mixed feeds are that you can provide everything your horse needs from just one bag IF and only if, the horse feed you paid for includes a top quality blend of vitamins and balanced minerals. Unfortunately this is often not the case.
IF your horse needs the full recommended serve of the pre-mixed feed, you’ll save time at feed time also. But if your horse gets too fat or goes crackers on the full recommended 4 kg and you only feed 1 or 2 kg of the pre-mixed horse feed, you’ll need to top up vitamin, mineral and salt levels TO AVOID A DEFICIENCY.
Once you start doing that, it’s often cheaper, easier and MORE NUTRITIOUS for your horse if you create your own feed from a few key ingredients.
You can ‘build’ a horse feed that’s just as nutritious as a pre-mixed one by including one to three of the main ingredients from your bagged feed and adding a quality vitamin and mineral supplement such as Equine Vit&Min, salt and specialty ingredients as required.
Another advantage of creating a custom horse feed is that you can choose the best ingredients to suit your horse’s special requirements (e.g. low GI for a laminitis-prone or EMS horse).
If you build the combination every feed time, you can easily customise the ration for each horse in your herd.
This ‘feeding system’ also allows you to easily increase or decrease your horse’s calorie intake to maintain the ideal body condition when pasture quality or horse work load changes.
This way of feeding also makes broodmare nutrition a lot easier. Click here to read more about feeding pregnant mares.
A qualified equine nutritionist, or a ration formulation program such as FeedXL or the free NRC Horse Nutrition Calculator is required to accurately calculate everything your horse needs to create an optimum, efficient and effective diet.
As a part of our strong commitment to customer service, and to help save you money, Farmalogic’s team of university qualified equine nutritionists offer a free diet analysis to fine-tune your horse’s diet and calculate the level of supplementation your horse requires. To access this service, please weigh your horse’s current feeds then fill in a FREE DIET ANALYSIS REQUEST here.