Thursday, October 22, 2009

Horse Feed: Trivial but Useful Feeding Tips

Depending on how picky you are about feeding your horses, and if you have any "special needs" horses, doing chores can take up a lot of time. I've picked up a few tips along the way on speeding up the horse feeding process, and I'll pass them along here, just in case they are of use to any other horse folks out there.

Soaking Beet Pulp

If you feed beet pulp then you know it has to be soaked before being fed to prevent choking and other horse health hazards. It can also take a long time, especially in the winter in a cold climate. I've found that beet pulp shreds soak a lot faster then pellets, and give horses a lot more "crunch factor." They also tend to satisfy a horse's need for long-stem forage better than the pellets. For faster soaking, bring the bucket of beet pulp into the house and add hot water instead of cold. Alternatively, soak the beet pulp the night before with cold water, then top it up with warm water in the morning. A meal of warm beet pulp will help warm a shivering horse on a chilly morning.

Hauling Water
This one is silly, but true. Recently I had to put Walker, my hothouse flower gelding, in a separate pen so he could eat in peace and gain weight. The pen was miles away from water, so I had to haul water in buckets (in a little red wagon) to his pen. Water sloshed everywhere! I ended up putting a flat board or a smaller bucket on the surface of the water, which greatly reduced the sloshing. I ended up at the pen with several almost-full buckets of water instead of half-full buckets.

Supplements in a Free-Choice Environment
If you have to supplement a group of horses that eat free-choice in an open pasture or pen, one good way to offer unique supplements to each horse is to syringe it in their mouths, if possible. All of my horses are trained to accept this method. I often mix up separate syringes for each horse and feed those first before placing the buckets and hay in the pasture. Once the buckets and hay are put down, it's a merry-go-round of chase and be chased. However, by giving each horse his or her syringe-full of unique supplements, I know that they each got what they needed.

For instance, two horses get the standard horse "goo" I mix of antioxidant juice and Simplexity Health Essentials. My mare with heaves gets two capsules of Eleviv herbal supplement with the goo, which keeps symptoms of heaves at bay. Finally, my gelding gets even more supplements than that mixed with the goo. But all of it fits neatly into a syringe, and then the free-for-all feeding frenzy can begin after that!

Anyway, don't know if these tips will help, but they do help me ensure that each horse gets what they need, and chores don't take forever and a day!

If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to the feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader.

Photo credit: Free Digital Photos

No comments:

Post a Comment