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Nutrition for Horses

Horse Feed Pellets

Nutrition for horses is an important part of horse ownership. Below are a variety of articles and links that can help you in deciding the most beneficial nutrition program for your horse. 

Feeding Management 101

When determining the feeding program for your horse herd, there are many factors that can affect the type and amount of feed to use. As a general rule of thumb, consult your local veterinarian if at any time your horse shows a lack of appetite or upset stomach. As we all know, horses have much more sensitive stomachs than that of other livestock. The University of Arkansas - Division of Agriculture has put together some basic points to keep in mind when feeding horses.

    • horse eating out of a bin
      • Feed at regular times (at least twice daily) with three daily feedings preferred. Research has shown that horses that are fed 2 – 3 smaller feedings, will digest feed more successfully. — Any feed changes should be made gradually over a period of 7 to 10 days. When making a feeding change, start with only a very small amount. A general rule of thumb is to begin with only a handful and work your way up over a 10 day process. — Changes in the rate of feeding should not exceed one pound per day for each horse.  Horses that are fed on a consistent schedule are less likely to go off their feed or develop undesirable stall habits (vices). — Horses that are fed on inconsistent schedules may get hungry and bolt to their feed, possibly resulting in digestive disorders.


      • Feed along with at least 1-1.5% of horse's body weight of good quality hay or the equivalent in pasture to make a complete ration.


      • Have plenty of fresh, clean water available at all times. Horses will typically drink less water during the winter, thus it is imperative to ensure that water troughs are kept clean, especially during the winter. Troughs should be emptied and scrubbed twice a week at a minimum.


      • Prevent the rapid eating by the horse of any feed stuffs. Horses have the tendency of eating much faster than their stomachs can digest. It is crucial to maintain consistent feeding times and amounts to ensure that rapid eating does not take place.
      nose of a horse close up
      black horse eating hay

For more information contact:

  • Dr. Mark Russell
    Associate Professor - Equine Extension
    University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture
    Cooperative Extension Service
    2301 S. University Avenue
    Little Rock, Arkansas 72204
    Phone: (501) 671-2190
    Fax: (501) 671-2185