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Calories in Horse Feeds

Body condition and weight are important when assessing the health of your horse. Some horses, often referred to as “easy keepers”, require lower calorie diets to achieve a healthy weight and body condition score, while others, known as “hard keepers”, require more calories to achieve that same healthy condition.

However, for easy keepers, cutting back on grain to less than recommended daily amounts also limits nutrients, increasing the risk of deficiency and lowering performance potential.  On the other side, over-feeding has its own challenges in terms of digestive health.

  • For easy keepers, it is recommended to look for a lower calorie product, rather than under-feeding a higher calorie product.  Ration balancers are an ideal option for this type of horse.
  • For harder keepers, there are a variety of high fat and high calorie options on the market that can reduce total intake, while increasing the caloric intake.

There are a variety of ways to supply added energy in feeds for underweight and performance horses.

Fueling with fat

  • Very high in energy.
  • Less feed needed to do the job.
  • Less risk of gas colic.
  • Supports glycogen sparing for increased endurance.

Feeding frequency

  • Increasing feeding frequency is one of the safest ways to increase calories without risking starch overload in the hindgut.

Balancing energy

  • Include carbohydrates and starch to build up stores of muscle glycogen.
  • High quality fiber and roughage.

Performance horses and horses that need to gain weight should be fed products with high quality protein and guaranteed amino acid levels to support muscle development instead of fat deposition.