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Horse pellets offer a clean, nutrient-dense, and less wasteful way to feed your horses, but for a horse owner who is new at feeding hay pellets, there are a few pitfalls to watch out for. Here is a guide to feeding horse pellets for the first time.
- Determine each horse’s unique needs. Does your horse have ample grass pasture available to him, or is he fed high-quality hay? If so he might only need hay pellets during the winter, when pasture isn’t as good, or a minimal amount year-round as a supplement to his diet. On the other hand, some horses might need their pasture or hay to be completely replaced with soaked hay pellets, such as if they are old, sick, or have problems with their teeth,
- Feed by weight. A general rule of thumb with hay is to feed a horse 1.5 to 2.5 percent of their body weight daily. For an average 1,000-pound horse, this is 15 to 25 pounds of hay a day, although of course this can change depending on the amount of activity the horse gets. Pelleted feed, on the other hand, is a little more nutrient dense, so start low and monitor your horse’s weight carefully. Remember to always keep in mind your horse’s total diet, including hay, pasture, horse pellets, grain, and even any mashes or treats given.
- Make diet changes slowly. Any time you change your horse’s diet, you need to make the change over a week or so to avoid causing any digestive issues that can turn into colic. This applies whether you are changing types of grain or hay, or making a bigger change such as switching over from hay to horse pellets.
- Only supplement when needed. One of the benefits to pelleted feed over pasture or hay is that the nutritional content is guaranteed. Feeding hay pellets therefore means a more complete feed, and unless your horse has a specific deficiency or condition that you are treating, further supplementation shouldn’t be necessary.
Horse feed shouldn’t have to be some kind of complicated equation, or worse, a guessing game. Follow these guidelines, but remember that just like people, horses are all individuals with unique needs. Monitor your horse’s weight carefully and adjust his or her feed accordingly, and of course, don’t forget to consult your vet before making any significant diet or supplement changes.