Tuesday, February 4, 2014

A Well Fed Horse - Advice from 1914

Besides the horse having a keen appetite, and have a sleek lustrous coat, a well fed horse is healthy, content, and alert.
About 75% of the cost of having horses, aside from the initial purchase, is feed.
Overfeeding can be wasteful and expensive, and underfeeding or a nutritional deficiency will not permit optimum performance.

Feeding Practices

In order for a horse to be in the best possible condition, observe the following feeding practices:
  • Since horses depend so much on their wind, feeds should be clean and free of mold and excessive dust.
  • Feed a balanced ration. The term "ration" denotes feed for a 24-hour period.
  • Accustom horses to feed gradually.
  • In general, they maybe given as much hay as they will eat.
  • It is safe to start horses on 1/2 pound of grain daily for each hundred pound's of the animal's weight. Thereafter, 1/2 pound of grain added to the total ration every third day is advisable.
  • Of course, as the grain ration is increased, roughage consumption will decline.
  • Feed horses regularly: In warm weather, early and late feeding during the cooler hours is preferred.
  • Feed two or three times daily. Usually feed grain before roughage.
  • Avoid sudden or abrupt changes in types of rations. Horses can go off feed.
  • Keep troughs and water containers clean.
Consumption and Weight

Horses can eat about 2 to 2-1/2 pounds of air-dry feeds, such as grain in the bin and hay in the bale, daily per 100 pounds of their body weight.

In average condition, a mature mare over 14.2 hands (58 inches) will weigh approximately 1,100 pounds - while mature geldings and stallions will weigh about 1,200 pounds.

Mature ponies under 46 inches will weigh from 400 to 600 pounds. Taller ponies up to 56 inches will average 700 to 900 pounds.

Weanling horse foals will weigh from 400 to 600 pounds when 7 months old. Pony foals will weigh from 200 to 300 pounds when 7 months old.

Well-fed foals will reach about 50 to 60 percent of their mature weight during the first year and about 75 percent at the end of the second year.

Horses reach maturity between four and five years of age.

Formulating Horse Rations

Water, protein, minerals, vitamins, and energy are essential nutrients in a horse ration.
Observe the following points when formulating the ration.
  • Is the total quantity of the ration adequate?
  • Is the energy produced by the ration suitable for the work or the performance required?
  • Is the amount of crude protein (digestible protein) adequate?
  • Is the proper amount of minerals and of vitamins A and D included in the ration?
  • Is the ration economical but still nutritionally adequate?

The average mature light horse may drink about 10 to 12 gallons of water daily varying with the amount of work, the type of feed, and the weather.

Horses should be watered regularly and frequently.

After heavy exertion, very warm or very thirsty horses should be watered lightly until they are properly cooled.

In very cold weather, water should be heated to 40 or 500 F.

Protein for Horses

Horses need protein for muscle growth, for lactation, and for reproduction.

Protein needs are expressed as percent crude protein or more precisely as percent digestible protein of the ration.

Horsemen usually add supplemental protein such as linseed meal, soybean meal, or other purchased protein to grass hay and grain rations.

Legume hays such as alfalfa and red clover are also good protein sources.

The average ration should contain approximately 12 percent crude protein.

Two good common oilmeal protein supplements that can be added to grass hay and grains are linseed meal and soybean meal with hulls.

Soybean meal is more palatable and of higher quality for foals and young horses.

Other purchased protein supplements without urea can be used.

In some cases peanut meal, cottonseed meal, and safflower meal are good substitutes if they  are economical. 

Four pounds of quality legume hays (alfalfa or clover) furnish approximately the same amount of digestible protein as 1 pound of soybean, linseed, or cottonseed meal.

The highest amount of protein is needed during early lactation. Later the amount can be reduced.

The amount of protein needed depends on how heavy is the breeding service. The minimum is 14 percent.

A very young foal may need up to 20 percent protein. At 6 months, 14 percent is sufficient
Energy Needs

The basic ration for a horse is hay plus grain.

The amount of grain a horse needs depends on the growth or performance expected.

The amount of total ration is based on a consumption of 2-1/4 pounds of hay fed per weight.

Thus a 1,000-pound horse would receive a total daily ration of 22-1/2 pounds.

The energy need is often expressed as total digestible nutrients (T.D.N.).

Generally grains provide more energy than hays because they analyze higher in T.D.N. and lower in crude fiber (C.F.).

An idle mature horse weighing 1,000 pounds should receive 22-1/2 pounds of hay with no grain while a similar horse doing heavy work or a stallion in heavy service should receive about 10 pounds of hay and 12.5 pounds of grain daily.

It is usually sound economically to feed and grow weanlings well the first and second years because young horses are more efficient and generally need less feed per pound of weight increase.

Some horses can be safely fed more than 1-1/4 pounds of grain per hundredweight.

However, when fed heavily, care should be taken to see that horses get plenty of exercise and do not become swollen or puffy in their legs.
Good pastures are an excellent source of nutrients.
Pastures can supply the complete ration, but usually working horses and lactating mares are fed additional grain. Foals on pasture are often creep-fed as well.
Both temporary (one-season) and permanent pastures are used to provide feed for horses.
An example of pasture seeding schedule is as follows:
  •  Season Forage Seeding time Grazing time
  •  Spring Oats and barley Late March and April May and June
  •  Summer Pearl millet Late April and May June until frost
  •  Fall Wheat and rye Late August and September October and November; April
  •  Some horsemen use sudangrass during the summer, but an occasional case of urinary cystitis infection has been recorded from sudangrass grazing.
Sudangrass is not safe for grazing immediately after frost or when severely stunted by drouth. Cured sudangrass can be used as hay.
Mixtures of legume and grasses in permanent pasture provide variety and more forage.
Establishment of a permanent pasture involves a considerable investment in money and labor. Good management is also required.
The following suggestions will help you establish and maintain a good permanent pasture: 
  • Test the soil fertility and add necessary limestone, phosphorus, potassium, and nitrogen.
  • Prepare a good seedbed.
  • Use recommended and adapted seeds and inoculate legumes.
  • Use a grass-legume mixture.
  • Seed at the proper time, preferably in early spring or fall.
  • Seed with a nurse crop. Oats are good. Remove the nurse crop early when oats are in the dough stage.
  • Cover the seed with 1/4 to 1/2 inch of soil.
  • Firm the seedbed by rolling.
  • Clip weeds, setting the sickle bar high.
  • Do not pasture the first season because horses will trample the seedlings.
  • To improve forage growth, topdress pastures with nitrogen in early spring (where legumes are less than 25 percent) with 50 to 70 pounds of actual N per acre.
Permanent and rotation pasture mixtures are very productive for both pasture and hay.
The inclusion of orchardgrass with bromegrass will furnish more grazing in midsummer when bromegrass may be semidormant.

Agasin, all interesting advice from 1914!

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