How much are you feeding?

  • Q: Please can you advise me as I am unsure how to go about weighing and measuring my horse’s feed

    Independent nutritionist Christine Smy replies: Few owners know exactly what weight of feed their horses eat on a daily basis.

    The traditional scoop is the most common way of determining feeding rations, but sizes and shapes do vary. Although many scoops look as if they hold the same weight of feed, appearances can be deceptive.

    On top of this, different types of feed – mixes, cubes and straights, for example – are all differentweights when measured by volume in a particular scoop.

    Fibre cubes often weigh less than condition cubes because of the variation of ingredients that are incorporated.

    It may not seem overly important that some owners feed a level scoop and others a rounded or heaped scoop, yet the difference between the two can be as much as 50 per cent. This quickly adds up.

    Fortunately, weighing your horse’s feed isn’t too hard. The best option is to buy a spring balance from a hardware store or your feed merchant. Look for one that measures in both metric and imperial, as it is useful to know both. If possible, buy a large spring balance that shows the figures clearly and takes a minimum of 10kg so you can weigh haynets, too.

    First, tip a level scoop of feed into a carrier bag, then hook the handles onto the spring balance and weigh. Record the amount and empty the bag before moving on to the next feed. Once you know how much each scoop of feed weighs, you can add up the amounts and determine feeding levels per feed and per day.

    Many owners find they are feeding over the recommended 2kg of concentrates per feed. If this proves the case, I suggest that you add an extra feed to ensure your horse gains maximum nutritional benefit.

    If you feed sugar beet shreds, it is best to weigh these before soaking, as water is heavy and you will not get an accurate measurement.

    Another option is to buy a haynet scale from your tack shop and then use ordinary kitchen scales to weigh each type of concentrate.You only need to weigh your feed about once a month, or when you introduce a new concentrate to your store room.

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