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What Do Wild Horses Eat?

wild horse

Have you ever wondered what wild horses eat, and how that stacks up to the hay and bags of feed stored in your feed room right now? A wild horse not only has a different diet than your pampered pasture pet, they also go about it much differently. Keep reading to learn a little more about what, when, and how a wild horse eats, and how you can apply that to how you feed your own horse.

What Do Wild Horses Eat?

Wild horses eat a little differently than domesticated horses. Instead of carefully cultivated pasture, hay, or pelleted feed, wild horses eat what they can find, when and where they can find it. That means sometimes grass, but also sometimes a variety of weeds and even shrubs. Since wild horses scavenge whatever they can find, they aren’t always meeting their nutritional needs, particularly in the winter.

When Do Wild Horses Eat?

The wild horse has a tough life, to be sure, but don’t forget that wild horses spend a lot more time eating and in search of forage than their domestic counterparts. The wild horse grazes on average 16 hours out of every 24, so they’re using quantity to make up for the poorer nutritional content of the forage they find. It also means they almost constantly have forage moving through their digestive system.

How Do Wild Horses Eat?

Because wild horses live almost entirely on forage, they spend most of their time with their heads down, eating. It turns out that’s the best way for a horse to eat, physically speaking. Dirt, dust, and food is less likely to be inhaled with their heads down, plus they’re less likely to colic, since they take smaller bites and chew their food better. In addition, the amount of time they spend traveling to find food keeps them fit, keeps their hooves worn down, and helps to keep their digestive system moving.

What We Can Learn

The way wild horses live and eat can teach us a lot about how to best care for our horses. Here are a few ideas for how you can replicate the way horses evolved to live.

  • Provide high-quality feed. Your horse doesn’t need to travel miles every day to meet his nutritional needs. Ensure most of his diet is either forage or comes from forage, such as pelleted feed made from high quality grass and alfalfa hay.
  • Feed in smaller, more frequent meals if possible. You can mimic the wild horse’s long hours grazing by feeding in multiple small meals. If your horse eats too fast, try a wider feeder so that the feed is more spread out, or keep several large rocks in it so your horse has to push them around to get to all his food.
  • Feed on the ground. Avoid fence or wall-mounted feeders whenever possible, in favor of a rubber feeder on the ground. Hay, hay pellets, grain, and supplements can all be fed from ground-level feeders.
  • Ensure your horse gets plenty of exercise. The ideal situation is for your horse to be kept in a pasture or corral, with a companion if possible, so that he’ll move around enough on his own. If that’s not possible, it’ll be up to you to ensure your horse benefits from daily turnout or a regular work program.

Pelleted feed offers a way to mimic the wild horse’s forage-heavy diet while benefiting from easy feeding, easy cleanup, guaranteed nutrition, and less waste. For more information about our feed, or to help determine which pellet will best meet your horse’s needs, contact Sacate Pellet Mills today.

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