Do Summer Pastures Mean You Need to Change to a Low-Calorie Horse Feed?
All About Low-Calorie Horse Feeds
Is access to plenty of pasture affecting your horse’s weight? From low-calorie horse feed options to dry lot turnout, we have some advice to help your horse maintain a healthy body condition through the summer.
Strive For a Healthy Condition
Although the general recommendation for a horse’s body condition is around a 5, this number is not set in stone. For example, elite racehorses may have a lower BCS, while a broodmare may have a higher BCS over the summer in preparation for winter. Therefore, it’s important to discuss the optimal BCS for your horse’s circumstance with your vet. Once you know what that number should be, you can determine if your horse needs to lose weight.
Temporary Weight Gain vs. Overweight Horses
Another consideration is whether your horse has recently gained the extra weight, or if he has been overweight for a while. If the weight gain is recent, it may be due to the availability of pasture. If your horse has been enjoying summer’s bounty without also increasing activity, you can likely get him back to a healthy BCS reasonably quickly by making sure he gets more exercise and fewer calories.
On the other hand, if your horse has been overweight for a longer period of time, it may be that he is older and could be dealing with physical limitations that will hinder additional exercise. In this case, nutrition management, possibly including a low-calorie horse feed, is key.
Ways to Reduce Calories
Nutrition management can be tricky since any change to a horse’s diet needs to be made gradually. However, there are a few strategies you can use to help your horse lose weight.
To begin with, limit the time your horse can freely graze. Consider turnout in a dry lot; if no dry lot is available, you may need to consider a grazing muzzle. Your horse will still need plenty of forage, so we do not recommend eliminating grazing time entirely.
Next, take another look at your feed bag. If it says it’s “high energy,” it is not likely to be a low-calorie horse feed, and it may be part of your horse’s weight issue. Look at the ingredients as well; if it contains corn oil, flaxseed, or rice bran, it may be too calorie-dense for your horse’s situation. Consider a ration balancer instead of a feed, to ensure your horse gets the nutrition he needs without added calories.
Low-Calorie Horse Feeds from Hallway Feeds
If you do need to change your feed, remember to do so over the course of a week or so, as sudden changes upset a horse’s digestive system.
Here are a few low-calorie options from Hallway Feeds you may want to consider:
Stamm 30: For horses on an all-forage diet, Stamm 30 is an easy way to ensure they’re getting critical nutrients. This high-quality ration balancer provides a highly concentrated source of proteins, vitamins, and minerals, and is fortified with Buffered Mineral Complex (BMC) to boost gastric health, hindgut health, and bone density.
Pure & Simple Balancer: Horses with a lack of muscling can benefit from this low-calorie horse feed/balancer. It’s formulated with essential amino acids, high levels of biotin, vitamins E and C, and proteinated minerals. Pure & Simple Balancer is non-GMO and also soy-free.
If you need any help determining whether or not your easy keeper can benefit from a low-calorie horse feed, please get in touch. We’d be happy to help you choose a feed that will ensure his health.