Feed Me: How Often Should Horses Be Fed?

Though some horses live outside constantly, many horses, especially those that are boarded, are kept in stalls for at least part of the day. Barn managers may differ in the number of times per day they feed grain and hay meals to the horses in their care, but twice-a-day feedings are considered standard.

In their natural habitat, horses spend most of their time grazing. This allows them to constantly secrete stomach acid, which is then buffered by saliva as they chew. The more often a horse is able to chew hay, the more closely his environment will mimic the way horses evolved. Constant or near-constant access to forage lowers the risk of colic and ulcers and decreases the chance of stereotypic behaviors, reports The Horse.

A horse’s stomach is mostly empty about six hours after he eats; because of this, it’s ideal for a horse to not be without forage for more than six hours at a time. Though it may not be possible to feed hay every six hours throughout the night, it can be helpful to ensure that they are not fed grain meals more than 12 hours apart–nearly all the fiber passes out of a horse’s system within 12 hours.

While feeding more than two meals a day may be impossible for those who don’t keep their horses at home, farm owners and managers can make hay last longer by using small-hole haynets or slow feeders. Automatic feeders are an option for delivering hay pellets in the hours the farm owner is not there.

Read more at The Horse.

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