The inside scoop: Is my horse’s grain enough?

header-grain-scoop

You can figure out what your horse is getting from his grain — just follow these three easy steps!

1 Weigh In

If you already know how many pounds of grain your horse eats per day, kudos! You can skip to Step 2. If you’re not sure, it’s time to weigh in. Grain rations are always based on weight (as in pounds), not volume (as in quarts). If you’re feeding by quarts or “scoops,” put your horse’s normal daily ration into a light plastic bag and weigh it (shipping scales work great). If you don’t have a scale, we recommend the SureScoop.

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2 Check the Label

Most feeds will list how many pounds of grain should be fed per 100 pounds of your horse’s body weight, depending on his workload. Start by dividing your horse’s weight by 100, then multiply that number by the serving recommended for your horse’s age and workload. The resulting range is the amount of grain that would be required per day to meet all of your horse’s nutrient requirements.

Sample Calculation
Smartie the SmartPak Horse
Weight: 1100 pounds
Workload: Heavy Exercise
Daily grain ration: 4 lbs (AM & PM total)
1100 pounds/100 = 11
11 x 0.6 to 0.8 lbs = 6.6 to 8.8 lbs/day
Because Smartie is only getting 4 lbs of grain and the minimum serving size for his workload is 6.6 lbs, his daily ration is not meeting his nutrient needs.


3 Measuring Up

If your horse’s normal daily ration falls within the range you calculated, you’re good to go! His daily diet is already meeting his nutritional needs. If, however, your horse’s daily grain is coming up short, that doesn’t mean you need to up his grain. If your horse is maintaining his weight and his energy level is good, instead of increasing his grain, consider adding a multi-vitamin or ration balancer. These supplements can “fill the gap,” providing the additional nutrients he needs, without the extra calories and energy he doesn’t!


3 reasons your horse might not be getting a full serving of fortified grain

  • He is overweight or gains weight easily
  • He gets more than one type of grain or a “mixed ration”
  • He is high energy or “hot”

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8 comments on “The inside scoop: Is my horse’s grain enough?
  1. Emily says:

    My horses don’t get any grain but they are on clover and grass pasture that is irrigated and I give them high quality hay in the winter to supplement. Should I be giving them grain and/or supplements? they all look and act very healthy with shiny coats.

    • Barbara says:

      YES! Many horses can maintain weight on good quality hay or hay + pasture. That is fantastic! I have a couple that do myself. However, no pasture or hay is complete in vitamins and minerals for what your horse needs. A shiny coat means they are getting plenty of Omega 3 fatty acids in their diet (good pasture!) and they don’t have an abundance of parasites. Both a key to good health. To round out their diet, I use a quality vitamin/mineral supplement. I have used SmartPak’s SmartVite line before with success. I currently use Uckele’s Equi-Base vitamin. Horsetech.com has a good one too called HighPoint. All of these have formulas for Grass hay/pasture or alfalfa/legume hay diets.

      For my easy keepers I use a vitamin/mineral and mix it with some whole oats and chopped alfalfa/timothy hay. It comes bagged at our local Tractor Supply. Soaked beet pulp with oats or alfalfa pellets works well too. You can easily adjust the amount of feed you’re giving based on the horse’s needs, while still maintaining the proper vitamins and minerals your horse should have.

    • SmartPak SmartPak says:

      Hi Emily, thanks for your question! Whether or not to add grain to your horses’ diets depends on a lot of different factors such as the type of work your horses are doing, their body condition, etc., so we recommend working closely with your veterinarian on this topic. Either way, most horses do need a supplemental source of vitamins and minerals, since hay and grass may be lacking in certain nutrients. If your horses are maintaining their weight on forage alone, a multi-vitamin supplement may be the perfect complement to round out their diet. We also suggest you check out our blog below for more advice. – SmartPaker Casey

      Is a Hay-Only Diest Sufficient: http://bit.ly/17c7hxg

  2. Emily says:

    Thank you so much! One of my horses is a yearling. He looks the healthiest out of all my horses, but I want to keep him that way, especially come winter time when the grass has very little nutrition. I can’t seem to find a good supplement for yearlings that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg! Mega-Cell from this site looks good with an affordable price tag, but it is not formulated for growing horses. I did have him on Grow Colt (which worked wonderfully), but I just took him off of it because it is only for foals under a year old. Do you have any suggestions? Thank you!

    • SmartPak SmartPak says:

      Hi Emily, thanks for asking! Since you mentioned having great results with Grow-Colt, we would recommend you take a look at another multivitamin by Farnam called Vita-Plus. This supplement offers a spectrum of vitamins and minerals, and has been designed for both adult and growing horses. If you’ve just discontinued the Grow-Colt for your yearling, Vita-Plus (http://bit.ly/15bEDdM) may be an appropriate option for him. – SmartPaker Casey

  3. Pitter says:

    useful info

  4. Janet Ortega says:

    Hi SmartPak,
    I’ve listened to a couple of webinars and then realized that yes indeed I did need to supplement my horses since they were not getting enough nutrients but I just could not ever figure out how to figure it out lol. I’m further along now than I was but I’m still searching to see if I could do it differently on a cost basis. I have a 19 yo arab gelding that was only on hay and is a VERY easy keeper and quite fat. I put him on a diet and moved the mare out of the corral for feedings. He has lost 75 lbs but it was suggested to me that I supplement him a lb of Ensure Plus so I have and he seems to be more focused since I have done this. He also gets a weighed 6 lbs of alfalfa/bermuda grass hay mix fed 3 times a day for a total of 12 lbs.

    My Arab mare is a senior mare at 28 yo and doesn’t have much for teeth anymore. The vet said to put her on soaked cubes or a senior feed. Right now I have her on your supplements Senior Flex and now it’s the Senior Flex combo along with 6 lbs of Equine Senior complete feed 3 times a day (was feeding her 4 lbs twice a day) and twice a day she now gets 2 lbs of soaked Timothy hay cubes for a total of 4 lbs a day. Her weight is really good. Not fat but not thin either but before she was on Equine Senior she was losing weight and was on quite ribby.

    I would like to know if my horses are getting the best that I can give them.

    Thank you for your help.
    Janet Ortega

    • SmartPak SmartPak says:

      “Hi Janet, first of all I want to commend you for all the work you’ve done to get your horses’ diets right. It’s really impressive stuff! At this point, it sounds like what you might really benefit from is a consultative service specific to equine nutrition, and we can pass along some resources that might be helpful! One of our absolute favorites is called FeedXL: http://feedxl.com/. It allows you to plug in exactly what your horses are getting each day, and then shows you where they’re meeting their requirements, where they’re missing their requirements, as well as any that might be excessive. You could also consider reaching out to an equine nutritionist to help get more specific answers about your horses’ diets. Lastly, one other tool that might prove helpful is the SmartVite Verifier: http://bit.ly/1cuKYdb, which helps you determine if your horse is a good candidate for a multivitamin like SmartVites! – SmartPaker Casey

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