As a horse owner, naturally you want to feed your horse the best possible diet. But what exactly is all-natural horse feed, to a domesticated horse? To understand that, let’s take a look at what horses eat in the wild versus captivity.
Horses have incredibly long, but also incredibly fast-moving intestinal tracts that have evolved to handle a near-constant flow of food, as horses have to eat continually throughout the day in order to get enough to eat. In the wild, they graze for approximately 16 hours a day, but what that consists of might surprise you. The grass isn’t always greener! Wild and feral horses actually eat quite a bit of weeds and anything else they can scavenge, and often travel long distances each day in order to find enough to eat, so the original all-natural horse feed is probably a little rougher than you might think.
Domesticated horses don’t struggle with the same challenges that their free-roaming wild and feral counterparts do, but whether to save money on feed or to try to recreate their “natural” diet, many owners put their horses on pasture. What they don’t realize is that in reality, horses in the wild have to work to find enough calories every day, whereas most horse pastures are carefully cultivated to produce top-notch grazing conditions. Even a well-fed horse’s instincts tell him to graze most of his waking hours, though, so the end result is over-fed, overweight pasture horses.
The solution to overfeeding is to feed according to each individual horse’s weight, but that’s not possible on pasture. Whether to limit calories or because no pasture is available, many horse owners feed hay. In some ways, hay is even less natural than pasture: It’s pre-cut and all in one place, so instead of forcing the horses to wander and eat over an extended period of time, it can be eaten very quickly. This can lead to horses being bored and having empty stomachs for hours at a time, which can be bad for both their mental and physical health. Plus, feeding hay has a lot of drawbacks, such as difficulty storing and a tendency to create waste.
As you can see, it’s difficult to achieve a truly “natural” diet in domesticated horses. We can come close to it by placing an emphasis on feed that comes primarily from forage, but both pasture and hay have challenges of their own.
Another option is to feed hay pellets or cubes. This type of feed is made primarily of hay, so like pasture or hay, it’s another case of trying to approximate a natural diet as closely as possible. Unlike either pasture or hay though, pellets have a guaranteed nutrition content, are easy to store and feed, produce less waste, and allow you to control very precisely the amount of feed your horse gets. And when you buy hay pellets from a quality pellet mill like Sacate, where we pride ourselves on using the best natural ingredients available, you can rest easy knowing your horse is getting the best of both worlds: as natural, but also as good for him, as possible.
For more information about our all-natural horse feed, or to find out more about our top quality ingredients, contact Sacate Pellet Mills today.