Balancing a Forage-Only Diet
By Purina Canada
As equine enthusiasts, we know that providing plenty of good quality forage to your horse is essential for optimal health, both physiologically and psychologically. But if your horse is an easy-keeper and does not require the addition of a feed to maintain weight, is he getting all the nutrition he needs from his hay or pasture alone? What if you provide a trace mineral block in his stall or pasture?
The answer to these questions is no. Unfortunately, no matter the quality of hay or pasture there are still key nutrients that they cannot provide your horse and failing to supplement them can lead to deficiencies over time. These nutrients include vitamins, minerals, and quality proteins (amino acids). Horses have a range of nutrient requirements to meet their daily needs, and if your horse is not provided these nutrients in sufficient quantities, they may experience deficiency symptoms. The severity of the deficiency symptoms depends on the degree of the deficiency and the time period over which the deficiency exists.
For an adult horse not in work, certain deficiencies can present as poor coat and hoof quality, or poor muscling. Others may have decreased appetite, poor immune system, poor performance or reproductive issues. For young, growing horses, or mares in foal or in lactation, these deficiencies can inhibit healthy growth and development of the foal, predispose the foal to certain diseases, or cause the mare to start depleting her own nutrient stores to meet the needs of her foal.
As a horse owner, you may realize that something is missing in the diet, but may not fully understand what is missing or how to feed it. There are many options when it comes to feeding your horse, and instructions are often misinterpreted, but we can help!
Read the full article on Balancing a Forage-Only Diet HERE.