Importance of Feeding Forage

greyeatingThe two most important things in a horse’s diet are forage and water. Horses should be allowed all of the forage and water they can consume without waste.

Forage is a necessary part of the horse’s diet and provides adequate fiber that is utilized as a source of energy to meet normal physiological needs. However, the quality of the forage is important to ensure that it can be digested and utilized by the horse.

When forage does not provide a horse adequate energy and nutrients for maintenance, growth or performance, a concentrated feed needs to be added. Quality, balanced equine feeds, such as those manufactured by Seminole, are made of highly digestible ingredients and are formulated to meet specific needs of horses and their complex digestive systems.

summergrassLegumes & Grass

Alfalfa is the most common legume forage, but perennial peanut and clovers are also common. The grass hays of the south are predominately a variety of Bermuda Grass, but Timothy and Orchard are also commonly imported into the southeast. Legume forages tend to be slightly higher in digestible calories and crude protein, while grass forages tend to have a slightly higher digestible fiber level. Just remember, the forage source chosen and the quality are the variables in hay that need to be managed to provide a superior, consistent feeding program.

Cubes & Pellets

Forage cubes and pellets are often used as an alternative forage source. Cubes & pellets provided a consistent nutrient intake and allow the horse owner to control the daily ration. Reduced dust makes these products a good alternative for horses that suffer from certain respiratory problems.

Seminole Feed® offers Alfalfa Cubes, Alfalfa Pellets and Timothy-Alfalfa Cubes.

Forage Types

When thinking of forage types, remember the quality of forage is key. High quality forage is free from weeds, dust, is not over mature or “tough” and of course is free of mold.

Pastures are also a good source of forage, given there is enough quality forage in the pasture. Is the pasture free of weeds? What is the pasture’s grass to weed ratio? Is the pasture fertilized?