GrainNow that we’ve discussed the value of quality forage for your horse’s diet, let’s talk about grain. If you’re going to try to save money on your horse’s feed you may need to ask yourself if your horse even requires grain. You may be feeding (or over-feeding) him something he doesn’t even need.

According to Julie Wilson, DVM, of the University of Minnesota, “adult, idle (non-working and non-reproducing) horses can have their energy and nutritional requirement met with good quality hay alone with the addition of a ration balancer; these horses do not usually require grain.” So unless your horse is growing, lactating, breeding, or in heavy work, you could be saving a lot of money by not feeding him those additional calories. Furthermore, you’re doing your horse a favor by keeping his weight down and helping to prevent insulin resistance and other diet-related problems. For more information on feed and your horse’s needs, check out Dr. Amy M. Gill’s article, “Debunking Feeding Myths” where she addresses the misconception that horses need grain in their diets, among others.

Would you or have you cut back on your horse’s feed for both financial and health reasons? How else have you saved on feed? Wastage is always a problem, so try placing a large, smooth stone in your horse's feed bucket so he can't toss his feed around or let it go to waste. Also, try throwing a dollar store shower cap on feed buckets so you're not also feeding all the birds and rodents.

Download this week’s chapter excerpt on grain here, and download the complete feed and nutrition chapter next week when we tackle the hot topic of supplementation.