Farm Ireland

Tuesday 20 November 2018

Basic principles for successful feeding

Caitriona Murphy

Connolly's Red Mills have produced a useful guide to feeding horses. Aimed at horse owners who use Red Mills feeds, the 19 basic principles, below, are useful for everyone:

1. Select the Red Mills feed most suited to the age, workload and physical condition of the horse or pony.

2. Judge the quantity fed according to size, temperament and work required.

3. Feed little and often. Ideally, four feeds/day with the largest at night.

4. Feed at the same regular times each day.

5. Feed by weight, not volume. Compounds, especially cubes, are deceptively heavy.

6. Do not unbalance formulated compounds by adding further vitamin or mineral supplements, unless in individual cases on veterinary advice.

7. Feed plenty of clean, dust-free, well-seasoned roughage to maintain a healthy digestive tract.

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8. When calculating nutritional input, take account of quality and quantity of hay, pasture etc as well as concentrate values.

9. Have fresh water always available. If possible, always offer water before feeding.

10. Try to feed something succulent each day to a stabled horse, eg freshly pulled grass or sliced carrots.

11. Introduce any change in diet gradually, especially if putting a stabled horse out to grass or bringing a grass-fed animal back into work.

12. Do not ask a horse to do strenuous work until approximately one hour after the main feed.

13. Do not feed an over-heated or exhausted horse, as these factors impair digestive efficiency.

14. Store concentrate feed bags in vermin-proof bins and only open each bag as and when required.

15. Keep feed mangers, water bowls, buckets etc scrupulously clean.

16. Remove any leftovers from a previous feed before adding fresh feed. Query why the previous feed was not finished.

17. When feeding with Red Mills' Oat Balancer, concentrate or Red Mills' Conditioners, use only best quality, well-seasoned oats, and feed either whole or lightly and freshly bruised.

18. Control worm infestation by regular worming, varying brands to avoid resistance.

19. Check horse's teeth regularly for sharp edges.