Cost-Effective Feeding Program for Horses

Cost-Effective Feeding Program for Horses

How to design Cost-Effective Feeding Program for Horses without compromising your horse’s health.

You care for your own horses, you probably have their hay- and feed-buying routine down pat. Every three months you write a check to the hay guy when he delivers four tons of timothy. On the first of each month you head to the feed store and stock up on a couple of bags of grain. And every 30 days, like clockwork, you retrieve your horses’ supplements that were delivered to your doorstep.

Feed is an expense you’re never going to be without as long as you own horses. But we can’t blame you for wanting to find ways to cut feed costs without sacrificing your horses’ health or performance. When evaluating these costs, we generally look at forage, including pasture and hay, grain (concentrates), and supplements. The goal is to optimize a feeding program and, at the same time, spend less.

Know What Your Horse Really Needs

Paul Siciliano, PhD, an equine management professor in North Carolina State University’s Department of Animal Science, in Raleigh, says there are several things you can do to save money on feed, but first you must determine your horse’s nutrient requirements.

You can do this with the help of an equine nutritionist or by using online programs (often offered by feed companies) that simply require you to enter your horse’s weight, age, and other details. Knowing your horse’s nutritional needs will help you avoid under- or overfeeding.

Siciliano says overfeeding is common and can be costly. He explains that in one of his classes, he has his students feed university horses according to the label directions of various companies’ products and then analyze how it lines up with the animals’ nutritional needs. Because feed companies can’t know what kind of hay and other supplements each horse consumes, “the result tends to be a ration that might be more grain than needed, especially if you are feeding a high-quality forage,” he says.

To figure out if you’re overgraining, start by determining your forage’s quality and nutrient content. For owners who make their own hay or purchase it in bulk, Siciliano suggests having each batch analyzed. This might be impractical, however, for owners whose hay source is less consistent—perhaps they buy only a couple of bales a week from the feed store.

Regardless, place a premium on buying the best-quality forage you can find. It might be more expensive than lower–quality hay, but good hay still typically costs less than grain, unless you live in an area where very little hay is grown or if hay crops are in short supply due to drought.

“The higher the nutrient quality of the forage, the less grain and supplemental feed you’d need,” he says. “A middle-aged easy keeper probably won’t need grain.

“Figure out what it costs per day to feed your horse,” Siciliano continues, adding the cost of grain and supplements to the forage amount. “If it’s about $2 to $3 per day, you are doing a good job. If it’s costing $5 or $6 per day, there may be some waste or overlap. Many people don’t count the cost of unnecessary -supplements, and this is where it often becomes expensive. The horse may not need all the extra things.”

Stampede Premium offers a comprehensive line of forage and bedding products specifically designed to meet the various nutritional and comfort needs of your horses as well as other animals. The Stampede line has grown to become a nationally respected brand offering animal owners unmatched consistent quality at great prices. Pellets, Cubes & Bedding.”

By Heather Smith Thomas

This article originally appeared in

Leave a Reply