Equine Nutrition

Equine Nutrition

by: Shannon Margolis

Grass is a natural source of nutrition for a horse

Equine nutrition refers to the feeding of horses, ponies, mules, donkeys and other equids. Correct and balanced nutrition is a critical component of proper horse care.

Horses are herbivores, a type of non-ruminant known as a "hind-gut fermentor." What this means is that horses have only one stomach, similar to humans. However, unlike humans, they also have to digest plant fiber that comes from grass and hay. Therefore, unlike ruminants, who digest fiber in plant matter by use of a multichambered stomach, horses use bacterial fermentation that occurs in the organ known as the cecum (or caecum) to break down cellulose.

In practical terms, horses prefer to eat small amounts of food steadily throughout the day, as they do in nature when grazing on pasture. Although this is not always possible with modern stabling practices and human schedules that favor feeding horses twice a day, it is important to remember the underlying biology of the animal when determining what to feed, how often, and in what quantities.

The digestive system of the horse is somewhat delicate. Because horses are unable to regurgitate food, except from the esophagus, if they overeat or eat something poisonous, vomiting is not an option. They are also very susceptible to colic, which is a leading cause of death in horses. Therefore, horses require clean, high-quality feed, provided at regular intervals, and may become ill if subjected to abrupt changes in their diets.

Alternative Equine nutrition

Horses are also sensitive to molds and toxins. For this reason, they must never be fed contaminated fermentable materials such as lawn clippings. Fermented silage, sometimes called "haylage" is fed to horses in some places, but it is risky

About The Author

Shannon Margolis
For additional information please visit www.horsegalore.com
View their website at: http://www.horsegalore.com

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