Grains for Horses and Their Characteristics

Today grain makes up a significant portion of horses’ diets. The most commonly fed grains are oats, barley, and corn. This article discusses each of these.

The concentrate portion of the ration contains grains that are higher in energy and lower in fiber than roughages. Many grains are fed to horses. The most common are oats, barley, and corn. Wheat and milo are other grains fed to horses.



Oats are the most popular and safest grain to feed to …

Common Feeds Fed to Horses

Hay and grain

Common feeds fed to horses are classified into three categories:


Roughages are high in fiber and low in energy.
Roughages include pasture, hay, and silage.


Concentrates are low in fiber and high in energy.
Concentrates include grains and grain by-products.


Supplements are used to balance rations to make up for deficiencies in protein, minerals, and vitamins.
Protein supplements are of plant or animal origin, whereas minerals are organic or inorganic. Most vitamins can be synthesized by the

Factors that Affect Hay Quality

Hay is the most common roughage fed to horses in confinement. The goal of a horse owner is to purchase and feed high quality hay. A good understanding of the factors that affect hay production will help you select high quality hay.

Factors that Affect Hay Quality: 

1. Growing Conditions

Legumes are higher in protein, energy, calcium, and vitamin A than grass hay. Clovers are legumes and may not be as green in color as alfalfa. Red clover can …

Hays for Horses and Their Characteristics

There are many different choices when it comes to types of hay for horses. Each type of hay has certain characteristics that you should be familiar with.

Timothy Hay

Timothy hay is one of the most popular hays fed to horses. It can be quite expensive, depending on whether it has to be shipped long distances. Timothy must be harvested in the pre- or early-bloom stage to ensure a high nutrient content. The first cutting usually has a higher weed

Feeding Schedule for Horses

Ashley Griffin, University of Kentucky

Space multiple feedings throughout the day.

The horse’s digestive system is designed to allow small quantities of food to pass through continually during the day. This means that the horse is a continuous grazer. Horses were not designed to consume large quantities of food at a single feeding. Therefore, good feeding management requires that feedings be spaced throughout the day. Numerous small feedings are better than one large one. Horses should be fed a …

Selecting Horse Hay

Multiple hays for horses

Good quality hay is essential, since hay constitutes a large majority of the horse’s diet. Several factors influence the quality of hay. Any of the common hays can be fed to horses, but what’s most important is nutrient value in relation to the cost of the hay. To evaluate the quality of hay, the following questions should be considered:

1. At what stage was the hay harvested?
Nutrient value largely depends on the age at which the hay was harvested.

Feeding Horses by Weight, Not Volume

Grain Scoop - measuring weight

All concentrates do not weigh the same.

For example:

A 3-lb coffee can full of

32 lb/bushel oats = 2 1/2 lbs
34 lb/bushel oats = 4 lbs
corn or pellets = 5 lbs

Therefore, a coffee can full of oats is not the same as a coffee can full of pellet or sweet feed. This doesn’t mean you can’t use the coffee can method to feed your horses. Simply weigh out the appropriate amount of concentrate and mark the …

Feeding Frequency for Horses

Feeding Guidelines

When feeding the horse, there are three general guidelines one should follow.

  1. Feeds should be fed at least twice a day.
  2. Feeds should be fed in equally divided amounts.
  3. Feeds should be fed near to or at the same time each day and at even intervals throughout the day.

Let’s look at the reasons why farm managers, nutritionists, and veterinarians follow these guidelines.

In the wild or out on pasture, horses eat frequently as they graze throughout the …

Slowing Down the Fast Eating Horse

Encourage aggressive horses to eat slowly.

Horses that eat fast and aggressively should be encouraged to eat more slowly. Horses that bolt their food have a tendency not to chew it before swallowing. There are several management tactics to use to slow aggressive eaters:

  1. Feed in large shallow troughs.
  2. Put bricks or softball-size rocks in the feed trough.
  3. Feed extruded feeds.
  4. Mix in chopped hay.
  5. Mount a wire ring inside the feed trough.

Ashley Griffin, University of Kentucky

Equine Facilities: Stall Flooring and Bedding

Ashley Griffin, University of Kentuckyu


Popcorn asphalt

Packed or puddled rock-free clay on a well-drained base makes one of the best floors for stables. It is usually easy to obtain. However, it is difficult to keep clean, and more flooring has to be added from time to time. Wood plank stall floors are preferred by some horse owners, but they are hard to keep dry and free from odor. Concrete floors are the least desirable, and if used, a considerable …