When it comes to horse feed, being cheap can be expensive. “Not only does it actually cost more in dollars to feed cheap concentrates, the red ink also adds up in poor performance, poor growth, the cost of additional supplements, the additional amount needed to be fed, and the possibility of veterinary bills,” says Eleanor Richards, nutrition specialist. Richards teaches Nutrition for Performance Horses as part of the nine-course Professional Designation in Horse Training program (www.horsecoursesonline.com) offered by Austin Education Center.
If you do the math, says Richards, it is easy to see how cheap feeds actually take dollars out of your wallet. The feeding directions for an economy horse feed which retails for $5 per 50 pounds says an adult horse in light training should get 1.5 to 2 percent of their body weight per day, along with adequate forage, free choice salt and water.
The feeding directions of a high quality feed which retails for $9 per 50 pounds says an adult horse in light training should get .5 to 1 per cent of body weight per day, along with adequate forage, free choice salt and water.
A “ration balancer” sells for $17 per 50 pounds and says a 1,100 pound horse in light training should have 1.5 pounds of the balancer with 5 pounds of oats per day, adequate forage, free choice salt and water.
Now get out the calculator, says Richards.
The economy feed per pound costs 10 cents. Feeding l.5 per cent of body weight—1,100 pounds—means you need to feed 16.5 pounds of the concentrate per day. At 10 cents per pound it is costing you $1.65 per day.
The high quality feed is .18 cents per pound, but you only feed .5 per cent of body weight or 5.5 pounds per day. The cost is .99 cents per day.
The ration balancer is .34 cents per pound for the 1.5 pounds needed per day, or .51 cents per day. Then you have to add in the cost of the oats at .11 cents per pound times 5 pounds or .55 cents per day. The cost of feeding the ration balancer is $1.06 per day.
The economy horse feed is the most expensive to feed.
Richards is also concerned about the amount of the economy feed to be fed--16.5 pounds per day.
“A horse should never be fed more than 5 pounds of grain at a single feeding,” she says, “so the economy feed needs to be divided into three feedings per day.
“Once you choose an economy feed,” Richards predicts, “you are going to see the cost of feeding go up and the performance of the horse go down.”
In addition to teaching the online nutrition course, Richards is the author of two e-books, Supplements—yes or no? and Feeding the Senior Horse. The books are available at www.donblazer.com.
Read, Ride, Reason--visit www.donblazer.com often for answers to your questions about horses.