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Horse Feeding Pitfalls: Feed Amounts

Usually, the consequences of less-than-optimal feeding regimens are relatively minor, costing us extra money perhaps but doing no real harm. But the worst feeding mistakes can have serious consequences: Some deficiencies or excesses pose an actual health threat; others may subtly rob a horse of vitality. Nutrition and calorie intake is an important factor in equine health. If you are feeding by volume rather than weight you may be over or under feeding.

If you hold a coffee can filled with corn in one hand and one containing oats in the other hand, you will notice a significant difference in weight–corn is heavier, and it’s also higher in calories than other feeds. Of course, we’re all used to scooping out a uniform portion of feed at mealtime, but when it comes to calculating nutrition, it is the weight that matters, not the volume–something to keep in mind whenever you change feeds.

Even pelleted and sweet feeds can vary in density and volume. “Two different manufacturers can make feeds that seem similar on the tag in fat, fiber and protein but the density could be very different,” Crandell says. “I have weighed a number of different feeds in a large coffee can and found that some were close to one pound different in weight but equal in volume.”

So, when you’re planning to change or adjust your feeds, be sure to read the bag for the nutritional content per pound, and then use a kitchen scale to determine how much a pound really is.