Feeding Hay

Thursday, July 28, 2011

hoofcareunltd.com

Slow feeding is important, but continuous slow feeding is much more important.

Continuous slow feeding does not work until your horse has forgotten that there is an end to the hay supply. As long as he remembers that there might be an end to the supply of hay he will most likely still eat too fast and not chew the food enough. Chewing is extremely important for a horse. It is when he has chewed enough he feels content, not when he has filled his stomach. If he does not chew enough he will not be able to digest the food the way he is supposed to. When the Continuous slow feeding starts to work your horse will show you both more harmony and more willingness to work. He might also be friendlier to other horses and easier to handle.

Horse Hay Feeder - 3 Piece Round 8ft w/Steel Lower Enclosure - 16 gauge frame. (Picture courtesy of www.barnworld.com)

It is extremely important that your horse never can fill his mouth with hay. When your horse fills his mouth with food he will not chew it enough and the digestion will therefore not be effective. Fantastic things happen when he has learned to eat the natural way. He will even graze differently after a winter with a well working “continuous slow feeder”. This is much better than spreading the hay on the ground since it is much to easy to eat hay that is loose on the ground or on the floor. One small piece of hay at a time is the goal!

Continuous slow feeding restricts the amount of hay your horse can eat per minute instead of the amount of hay available to him. You will gain in all ends.

  • No more wasted hay.
  • Less consumption because of better digestion.
  • Your horse is kept busy eating 16-20 hours as he is supposed to.
  • Obese horses usually loose weight.
  • Thin horses usually gain weight.
  • No more fighting over food since it is always available.
  • No specific feeding times for you to keep (no early mornings or lunch feedings).
  • Your horse will never be hungry and always ready to go.

Important things to consider:

There must be hay available to the horse at all times. 1½ hours after the horse has stopped eating the unstoppable production of bile (the horse has no gall bladder, he produces and releases bile continuously) will burn the inside of the small intestine and give the horse stomach ulcers.

It is not until the horse has forgotten that the hay feeder ever can be empty that the feeding system starts to work. Then the horses slow down their eating pace, take the pauses they need and each horse in the herd takes care of their individual eating needs (we have Shetland ponies and horses eat together from the same feeders).

Give your horse three weeks to get used to this new way of being fed before passing any judgments.

If you want to know how much they are eating you must look at the average consumption over a three day period because they do not necessarily eat as much every day.

Things not to do:

Do not feed servings or portions in the hay feeders.

If you believe your horse still gets too much you can always mix the hay with oat straw of good hygienic quality. If you are absolutely sure your horse needs more get hay that contains more (but be careful with alfalfa since the balance between calcium and phosphor is completely off).

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