I have always thought that feeding grain to horses was not quite natural considering horses in the wild obviously do not have that luxury. Feeding forage, such as beet pulp, bagged chopped forage, hay pellets, and chopped cubed hay, usually timothy and alfalfa are the best choices. Providing a good free choice mineral will give your horse all it needs to survive. In other words, GRAIN is not a necessity for most horses. My personal horse is a very easy keeper, and he loves the 1 measuring cup of grain he gets 3x’s a day. He prefers to nibble grass and a good hay to munch on day and night.
From Kentucky Equine Research, the following has been written:
Based on a comprehensive review of the literature and information garnered during conferences and nutrition workshops, the following recommendations were made in reference to feeding preserved forage:
- Nutrient analysis should be performed to appreciate the value of the forage and estimate the energy content. This is especially true for thin, overweight, and laminitic horses, or those with metabolic conditions.
- Routinely inspect the hay to ensure no hygiene issues exist (e.g., growth of molds that can negatively impact horse health). Dispose of poor-quality forage.
- Any substantial changes in forage quality in terms of energy, protein, and water-soluble carbohydrate content requires a two- to three-week acclimation period.
- Offer fresh or preserved forage with stem length greater than one inch (2.5 cm) ad libitum throughout the day.
- Horses should be consuming feed (hay or concentrate) for a minimum of 8-10 hours/day, with a maximum of 4-5 hours without food.
- If a horse requires more energy, use less mature forages.
If less energy is required, consider introducing small amounts of chaff into the diet (maximum of 30% of the dry matter ration).
So, in closing, I am of the opinion that LESS is MORE with regard to the optimum feeding for a healthy horse.