With the continuing drought in many areas, horse owners are often forced to provide supplemental feed to their animals. South Dakota State University Extension horse specialist Mark Ullerich offers these guidelines:

  • 1. Ullerich says founder is often a concern when feeding concentrates to horses. He says the best rule of thumb is to offer no more grain than .5% of the animal’s body weight at one feeding. Thus for a 1,100 lb. brood mare that’s about 5 pounds of grain. He also says because of the difference in a horse’s stomach and small intestine from cattle, oats is preferred to corn for horses because the starch structure of oats is more digestible for horses.
  • 2. Ullerich says the times that supplement is most critical is likely for pregnant mares during the last trimester because that is when their nutritional requirements increase. He suggests watching a mare’s body condition to monitor if additional feed is needed. A body condition of 5 to 6 is considered desirable.
  • 3. Lastly, a common question being posed with the ethanol boom is “Can we feed distiller’s grains (byproducts from ethanol processing) to horses?” Ullerich says research is currently being done to find the answer. But for now, he says he would not risk feeding these byproducts to a prized stallion or broodmare.

Next tip: Managing the breeding season