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Feeding For Topline In a Group Situation

groups of horses

If your horses are turned out in a group, you might be wondering how you can best tailor your feeding program to make sure everyone gets what they need for a healthy topline and proper nutrition. Nutrena offers many different feed options for horses with different needs, but it can be difficult when you have everyone in a herd situation. Ideally, separating groups of horses by their calorie needs would help make it simpler to feed them. Those that are easy keepers can get the correct feed – likely a diet balancer – and those who need more calories (and more time to eat) can get their proper feed and have less chance of being chased away by those who finished first.

If it’s not possible to break up the herd in this manner for feedings, you need to separate those horses that need more calories during meals so they can have more time to eat their meal. For example, if you have 5 horses in a pasture and four of them are easy keepers then your best option would be to feed the four easy keepers Empower Balance in four different feed pans, spread out along the fence line. Then bring the 5th horse that needs the extra calories outside the pasture or into a stall and feed him a higher calorie feed and give him enough time to finish it. For example, a thousand pound OTTB might need 10lbs a day of ProForce Fuel, best broken up into two or three feedings per day.

Corinne Gagnon of Frazier Farm in Woodbury CT knows this situation well. “I have 4 different group turnout situations and there are many different dietary needs among them. I worked closely with my Nutrena rep to help me decide who needs to eat what feeds and at what rate. Some of the horses just need to come inside twice a day to eat, and in the winter those horses need to stay in overnight too. They just do better this way, they aren’t burning calories keeping warm all night. Others are out 24/7 and do just fine on hay and a diet balancer, it all depends on the horse. Sometimes we need to make adjustments as we go along too- age, illness or workload can make a horse start to look less than ideal and we will adjust the plan for him as needed, but usually begin with bringing them in for meals.”

Hay is also an important component to keeping horses in a herd situation looking their best. Be sure that you are feeding high quality horse hay all year round and spreading it out in enough piles, spaced far enough apart. Keep an eye on horses in turnout situations, as herd hierarchy can cause a horse to be chased from their ration. Hierarchy in the herd can change too, so always be sure you keep a close eye on them to be sure everyone is getting their fair share of hay and grain. And in the winter time, if your horses are blanketed it’s a good idea to be sure you’re taking their blankets off and grooming them at least once a week so you can notice any changes in their body condition.

Specific products in the Nutrena line-up contain the right balance of amino acids to help support a healthy topline. Even horses who are in a group turnout situation can benefit greatly from being fed these feeds. Those horses who are easy keepers should still be fed a diet balancer like Empower Balance to be sure they are getting the vitamins, trace minerals and digestible amino acids that hay and grass alone wouldn’t provide. And those horses who need more calories could do well on a SafeChoice product or even a ProForce product, depending on their type, age and activity levels.