Ohio State University Extension Bulletin

Horse Nutrition

Bulletin 762-00

Feeding Factors


There are several factors that need to be considered when determining how much to feed your horse. One good place to start is with the feed tag. Typically, there are feeding instructions that will be adequate for the average horse under normal circumstances. Other considerations include:

  1. Foals less than six months of age eat 2 to 4% of their live weight in dry feed per day. Older horses eat about 1.5 to 2% of their live weight in dry feed per day.

  2. It takes about three pounds of green grass to equal one pound of dried grass. Horses on pasture often eat 60 to 100 pounds of grass each day in order to get enough dry matter to provide the needed nutrients. That is where the term "grass belly" came from, because they have to distend their belly so much to get sufficient feed into their system.

  3. A feed ration should be at least 50% roughage to ensure proper digestive tract function. If a ration needs to contain a higher percent of concentrate (grains) than 50%, some bulky grains such as oats should be used in the grain portion. In general, the portion of the ration that would be grain to meet the horse’s needs would be as follows: 0 to 10% for mature idle horses, 50 to 70% for weanlings, 50% for yearlings, 30% for two year olds in light training, and 20 to 70% for horses at work.

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