How Much Grain To Feed A Horse? (Perfect answer)

Measure feed accurately and feed consistently The average thousand-pound horse who relies on hay for all their forage typically eats fifteen to twenty pounds of hay per day. Most hay is dispensed in flakes; however, the amount of hay in a flake can vary greatly, depending on the size of the flake and the kind of hay.

Does my horse really need grain?

  • Not all horses need grain. But grain is an essential part of a working horses diet. Great care should be taken not to over feed grains to your horse. Grain over doses can cause colic, equine founder or laminitis in equines, and are a major cause of bone problems (epiphysitis) in young growing horses.

How much grain does a horse need per day?

Most horses can be given as much hay as they will eat. For horses that are just starting on grain, it is usually safe to start the horse with a half-pound of grain every day for every 100 pounds of body weight. Since the average horse weighs about 1,100 pounds, this would result in 5.5 pounds of daily grain.

How many scoops of grain should I feed my horse?

If you need an approximate place to start, 15-20 lbs of food, assuming a 3 lb scoop, is 5-6 full scoops per horse per day.

How much grain should I feed my horse in winter?

Horses can also be less feed-efficient when temperatures drop below their comfort zone. In general, feeding an additional one-quarter pound of grain per 100 pounds of body weight daily to non-working horses can provide adequate calories during cold, windy and wet weather.

How much should you feed a horse daily?

If you’re trying to figure out how much hay you need to feed your horse, there is a quick and easy rule-of-thumb to follow. Horses need to consume about 2% of their body weight in forage per day, which is about 20 pounds of hay for a 1,000-pound horse.

How much grain should a 1000 pound horse eat?

The average thousand-pound horse who relies on hay for all their forage typically eats fifteen to twenty pounds of hay per day. Most hay is dispensed in flakes; however, the amount of hay in a flake can vary greatly, depending on the size of the flake and the kind of hay.

How much grain should a 1100 pound horse eat?

So, a horse that weighs 1,100 pounds and is relatively inactive will usually hold that weight on between 16.5 and 22 pounds of hay a day. If you don’t know the weight of hay you are feeding, weigh it.

How many pounds is a scoop of horse feed?

Equine nutrition consultants often hear from horse owners that they use a 1-kg ( 2.2-lb ) scoop.

Do horses need grain twice a day?

Twice a day, and sometimes more, the horses receive their daily ration of sweet feed, pelleted feed, or some kind of processed feed. A scoop of grain and two flakes of hay – or a day out on pasture – makes up the typical meal for most horses.

How big is a horse feed scoop?

Scoops come in a variety of sizes, and we use the term pretty loosely. It can be applied to anything from a 1/2 cup measuring cup, to a #10 coffee can, or even a shovel! That can make it difficult to communicate to your vet exactly how much you’re feeding.

How many flakes of hay should I feed my horse per day?

horse five flakes every day. Remember to feed in as many small portions as possible.

What is a good grain for horses?

Grains for Horses and Their Characteristics

  • Oats. Oats are the most popular and safest grain to feed to horses.
  • Barley. Barley is very similar to oats as a feed except for some characteristics that affect how it is used.
  • Corn.
  • Wheat.
  • Milo (Grain Sorghum)
  • Molasses (Dried or Liquid)
  • Beet Pulp.

Do horses need more hay when it’s cold?

The average horse requires approximately 20 lbs. of forage per day and winter weather can increase the amount of hay needed by 30 to 50%. For each decrease in coldness of one degree F below the critical temperature there is an increase in digestible energy requirements of one percent for body temperature maintenance.

Is it OK to feed a horse once a day?

Generally, most horses do well grazing on high-quality grass pastures and hay and don’t need grain. However, feeding a horse once a day is acceptable if done correctly. If you feed your horse once a day, make sure that they can’t finish their food in less than 12 to 14 hours.

How many bales of hay should a horse have a day?

A horse can eat anywhere from 15-25 pounds of hay a day, which generally equates to a half of a 45/50-pound square bale of hay per day (~15-30 bales per month).

Is sweet feed good for horses?

Sweet feed is bad for horses —it’s nothing but sugar.” Although molasses does contain sugar, the molasses used in many modern sweet feed products has lower levels of sugar than that of yesteryear. And, as with any feed related condition, proper management can minimize the problem.

Horse Feeding Basics – The Horse

One of the most important aspects of horse management is providing a properly balanced equine diet, yet because of its complexity, it is sometimes misinterpreted or even disregarded. In order to ensure that your horse is on a healthy nutritional plane, whether you are responsible for his or her care or rely on boarding facility employees to assist you, you need have a fundamental grasp of correct horse feeding. If you need assistance in establishing a diet that will satisfy the specific needs of your horse, your veterinarian, an equine nutritionist, and/or an extension expert can all be valuable resources.

Evaluating Body Condition

According to Rhonda Hoffman, PhD, PAS, Dipl. ACAN, professor of equine science at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, the first stage in designing a horse’s diet is determining whether or not he is healthy. “First and foremost, horse owners must be able to look at their horses and determine whether or not they are at a healthy weight, or whether or not they are too fat or too skinny,” she explains. “The horse’s fattening (or thinning) is determined by the sight of the feeder.” Horse owners should get familiar with theHenneke Body Condition grading system, which goes from 1 (emaciated) to 9 (in good condition) (obese).

‘Five horses is the ideal number,’ says Carey Williams, PhD, associate professor and associate extension specialist at The Rutgers University-New Brunswick in New Brunswick.

In order to be felt, not seen, ribs should be present.

Understanding the Math

Following that, you’ll need to know how much your horse weighs in order to figure out how much and what to feed him. It is not necessary to use a weight tape to estimate your horse’s weight unless you are taking him to a facility that has a large enough scale, such as a veterinarian’s office or commercial farm. The formula varies based on whether the horse is a young developing horse, a pony or a draft breed, breastfeeding or pregnant, working hard, underweight, or overweight, among other variables.

  • When measuring the length of a horse, it is taken from the point of its shoulder blade to the tip of its rump.
  • “A weight tape should be placed moderately tight (you should still be able to fit a few fingers under the tape),” says Williams.
  • Professor Bob Coleman, PhD, BSc, of the University of Kentucky’s Extension Horse Specialist program recommends employing technology to assess a horse’s weight, according to the university.
  • Horse owners will be able to measure their horses and obtain an estimate of how much they presently weigh, as well as an estimate of how much they should weigh in their optimal condition.

Start with Forage

Forage consumption by horses is estimated to be 1.5-2.5 percent of their body weight daily, with “easy keepers” on the lower end of the range (the “air ferns” of the horse world) and “hard keepers” (those who have difficulty maintaining weight) on the higher end of the range (those who have trouble maintaining weight). As Coleman says, “forage is the foundation of all feeding regimens since it is a key source of the essential nutrients that animals require.” “Having said that, it is possible to supply more than the horse requires, for example, by providing nice grass when a horse is in maintenance.

  • According to Williams, a 1,000-pound horse engaged in mild activity can ingest up to 20 pounds of forage (grass and hay) per day.
  • As much of the leftover quantity as feasible should be provided as other kinds of fodder, such as hay, with grain being added only if your horse need it to satisfy his energy requirements.
  • As a result, if the pasture quality deteriorates, it may be required to feed more hay.
  • Returning horses to pasture in the spring, as well as in the fall after a frost, is the same procedure: Do so gradually, as sugar levels in grasses rise during these periods, increasing the likelihood of a horse suffering from colic or laminitis.
  • The horse’s gut microbiome, which assists in food digestion, might also respond to the new grazing environment as a result of this practice.
  • He advises landowners to educate themselves on the nutrients that different forage kinds give.
  • For the most part, grass hay offers all of the calories that a horse of “normal” size requires.
  • This $20-30 expenditure is little when compared to the cost of hay and feed, and it may assist you understand what type of feed to buy in order to maintain a healthy balance of nutrients in the hay, according to her.

In addition, if your hay has less nutrients, it is simpler to justify feeding a higher-calorie, higher-protein, and more costly grain concentrate to your animals.” Despite the fact that every horse owner has his or her own hay preferences, Coleman says his or her favorite is a mixed alfalfa-grass hay that is suitable for horses of all ages and stages of development, from growing to performance to senior horses.

Williams recommends a grass hay that satisfies the nutritional requirements of a horse in maintenance, such as hay that has 8-10 percent protein and suitable amounts of vitamins and minerals, according to the author.

Using volumetric feed (for example, two flakes every feeding) might result in discrepancies since flakes may weigh varying amounts depending on their size.

Inspect the hay for patches that are brown, black, gray, or white in color, which indicate the presence of mold. According to Hoffman, high-quality hay should be pale to medium green in color and should not smell dusty, gloomy, or moldy.

Does Your Horse Need Grain?

For example, if grass does not provide your horse with sufficient nutrition, it may be necessary to supplement his diet with a concentrate feed, as previously stated. The number of calories required by horses rises as they exercise, according to Lawrence. “Compared to most mature horses, growing horses have a disproportionately larger requirement for calories, amino acids, minerals, and vitamins. During pregnancy and nursing, the body’s nutritional requirements rise as well. “Diets for pregnant and nursing mares must contain appropriate nourishment, or otherwise the mare will deplete her own bodily resources to some extent in order to promote fetal growth or milk production,” says the veterinarian.

  1. Feeding should be done by weight once again.
  2. These pellets often contain nutrient fortification, which is particularly important in the case of vitamins and minerals.
  3. Some feed producers sell this sort of pellet on its own, referring to it as a ‘ration balancer’ in their marketing materials.
  4. When it comes to grain selection, Hoffman recommends that horse owners use a commercially blended and balanced grain concentrate rather than giving simple grains such as oats or attempting to make your own feed to save a few dollars.
  5. “As a general rule, when it comes to grain, you get what you pay for,” Lawrence continues, implying that it may be necessary to purchase a feed that is in the middle to upper range of prices in order to get the optimal balance between cost and high-quality ingredients and minerals.

Water and Salt

Horses must eat a huge amount of water in order to keep their bodies operating correctly as a result of their size. A mature, average-sized horse will consume 5 to 10 gallons of water per day at its full size. The quantity of water a horse requires is multiplied by a variety of circumstances, including activity, high weather, humidity, sweating, pregnancy or nursing, and increased hay intake, which can sometimes be three or four times the regular amount. Maintain constant access to lots of clean, fresh water for your horse at all times.

For every pound of hay consumed by a horse, Williams estimates that the animal will drink two quarts (half a gallon) of water, according to Williams.

Alternatively, owners can supplement salt intake with a mixture of one-third trace mineral or plain salt top-dressed on feed and two-thirds free-choice dicalcium phosphate, which can be provided by the owner (e.g., a salt block).

This also helps horses to satisfy their calcium and phosphorus requirements, which are not met by trace mineral salt blocks because these minerals are not present in them.

Take-Home Message

Especially if you are new to horse feeding, consult with your veterinarian or an equine nutritionist to ensure that your horse’s diet has the nutrients he need. He might suffer from major health concerns if he does not. Cookies are used on this website to enhance your browsing experience. If you continue to use the site, we will assume that you are in agreement with this policy. Accept More information can be found at

Is It Better to Feed a Horse Once or Twice a Day? 5 Tips!

Any links on this page that direct you to things on Amazon are affiliate links, which means that if you make a purchase, I will receive a compensation. Thank you in advance for your assistance — I much appreciate it! Is it better to feed my horse once a day or twice a day? This is a question that I am frequently asked, and it is not an easy one to answer. There are certain basic horse feeding guidelines to follow, but you must be flexible because the nutritional requirements of various horses must be accommodated.

Unless your horse is kept outside, it is better to give it hay twice each day in an automatic slow feeder.

Keep in mind that horses do not always stop eating when they are completely satisfied.

Is it okay to feed a horse once a day?

A horse’s feed should be given once or twice daily depending on whether it is grain or hay being given to the animal. In the case of our horses, we bring them in from the pasture and give them grain, following which we turn them out to complete their meal. Granules are appropriate for feeding horses once or twice daily or perhaps not at all. The amount of grain you feed your horse is determined mostly by the demands of your particular horse. Horses that are having difficulty acquiring enough protein or vitamins from their feed may require a grain supplement to keep them healthy.

  • However, it is critical that horses be not fed an excessive amount of grain at one time since they do not digest grain properly.
  • The greatest practice for feeding your horse is to do so twice a day if your horse is restricted in its foraging because it is housed in a stall, paddock, or barren pasture.
  • In contrast, feeding a horse once a day is okay if done properly.
  • The most effective method for accomplishing this is to utilize a slow feeder, such as a hay net or hay bag.
  • As an alternative to providing your horses with a hay net, you may instead give them with a constant food source such as bales of hay.
  • However, feeding your horse only once a day may not be the best option for all horses, especially if your horse is a voracious eater who consumes his or her feed in a short period of time.

It’s important to remember that each horse reacts differently to varied feeding regimens. If you wish to transition your horse to a new feeding method, it’s best to start with little modifications in the horse’s diet and monitor the horse’s physical and mental condition.

How long can a horse go between feedings?

When it comes to feeding their horses on a schedule, it’s critical that horse owners understand why it’s required or not. To begin, a horse’s digestive system is completely different from that of a person. They must consume meals gradually yet consistently over a period of time. This begs the question of how long they can go without feeding before they become ill. A horse’s feeding schedule can be extended by six to eight hours without risking the development of serious health issues. An empty stomach might also lead to your horse consuming unwholesome substances such as mold or even small dead animals.

  1. They then stroll about aimlessly, take a quick snooze, and resume the process.
  2. Horses graze because they have small stomachs in comparison to their bodies, and in order to achieve their dietary requirements, they must consume little amounts over an extended period of time.
  3. Aside from that, it is critical that your horse has access to enough of fresh water at all times.
  4. Horses are anticipated to survive for weeks without eating, but they will perish in three to five days if they do not have access to water.
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Can you overfeed a horse?

A neighbor recently overfed his horse, resulting in the unfortunate animal developing colic as a result of the overfeeding. It prompted me to consider how horses are overfed and why they have a proclivity for overindulging. Overfeeding a horse can occur in a number of different ways. For example, if you suddenly go from a planned feeding plan to free-feeding, allowing the horse to consume cut grass, feeding the horse too much grain, or not providing the horse with the proper amount of activity to digest its meal, the horse may suffer.

  1. Grazing horses, on the other hand, expend calories as they travel about looking for grass, which they then painstakingly scrape from the ground before they can take another bite.
  2. The same is true for a horse that is grazing in the wild, which may go up to 20 miles a day and consume a significant amount of food in the process.
  3. It is likely that your horses will lose the capacity to self-regulate their eating habit if they are used to being fed at specific times of the day.
  4. As a result, they are prone to devour anything you serve them and overindulge.
  5. More information may be found in my essay on the fundamental equestrian nutrition guide.
  6. Consider the possibility that you incorporate a protein- or mineral-dense fodder such as alfalfa or beet pulp in their diet.

Horses are also drawn to high-sugar foods such as grains and freshly cut grass (which should never constitute a large portion of a horse’s diet, but it is sometimes allowed). Because of the delicacy of the feed, many horses will continue to eat even when they are full.

What times should I feed my horse­­?

My niece inquired as to the best time of day to feed her horse, and I responded that there was no optimal time. It got me thinking about whether maintaining a tight food regimen is just as crucial for horses as it is for humans. If you feed your horse twice a day, you should feed it around 12 hours after the previous feeding session. It is recommended that if you give your horse small meals more than twice a day, you feed it before the crack of dawn every day, and that all succeeding meals be no more than four to six hours apart from one another.

  • Many people, however, are unable to do so due to a lack of appropriate pastures or the fact that they have a sport or draft horse that requires a specially monitored diet.
  • Make sure you feed your horse at regular times a specified amount of grain and hay.
  • We are attempting to put weight on a young horse by providing it with a tiny quantity of grain that has been top-coated with a weight-building supplement three times a day, in the morning, noon, and evening.
  • To finish off, there are several situations in which you should never feed your horse.

5 Horse feeding tips:

  • Only feed grain when absolutely essential, and then only in small quantities
  • Ensure that horses have an appropriate quantity of food
  • Horses normally consume around 2 percent of their body weight in hay or grass. Make gradual modifications to your horses’ nutrition rather than drastic ones. Introduce new foods in little amounts at first. Keep an eye on your horse’s weight
  • The amount of calories, minerals, protein, and fat they consume varies as they get older and perform more effort
  • And Always ensure that everyone has free access to safe drinking water.


The amount of grain you feed your horse is determined by the amount of labor it is performing as well as its size. If you have an active horse weighing 1,000 pounds, you should feed it around 9 pounds of grain each day in addition to high-quality hay to keep him healthy. Horses who consume an excessive amount of grain can become extremely unwell, so use caution and avoid overfeeding grain. It is recommended that you never feed your horse more than 11 pounds per day, regardless of how much labor they are doing.

Should horses have hay all time?

Horses’ bodies function at their best when they consume hay on a regular basis. Equine digestive systems are intended to handle only tiny amounts of food since they are grazing animals, not livestock. They release stomach acid on a continual basis and are at risk of getting ulcers if they do not consume forage regularly. Listed below is an article that goes into further detail regarding why horses need to feed all of the time: Is it necessary for horses to eat all of the time? Taking Charge of Your Horse’s Diet

Horse Feed Calculator

NOTE: If you are providing more hay than the recommended quantity, or if your horse is grazing on an unrestricted amount of pasture, you should lower the amount of concentrate feed you are feeding. Take the amounts specified for the horse’s weight and way of life as a starting point. After watching the horse for a period of time, the amount fed may be raised or lowered by 10% in order to achieve the appropriate physical condition and weight for the horse in question. feeding rates for concentrate meals are based on feeding with high-quality grass hay, which is not always possible.

Feed modifications should be made gradually over a period of 7-10 days.

* In situations when hay is provided in addition to a full feed, lower the amount of feed provided by roughly 1 pound of feed for every 2-3 pounds of hay provided.

* Refer to the gray window for the number of pounds of hay to be provided every day in conjunction with the suggested amount of feed.

If you are feeding more hay than the recommended quantity, lower the amount of concentrate you are feeding by roughly 1 lb feed for every 2 lbs of additional hay you are providing.

How Much Grain to Feed a Horse

When it comes to horses, it has been said that “you can bring a horse to water, but you can’t compel him to drink.” Even if this is true, leading a horse to grain increases the likelihood that the horse will consume the grain. Over time, if you feed a horse an excessive amount of grain, obesity can develop in the animal. Even though overweight horses may look to be “cute,” the extra weight can cause major health problems such as laminitis. Knowing how much grain to feed a horse might be a challenging task to estimate on sometimes.

Others may get plenty of exercise, but they avoid going out to the field to graze.

Calculating a Horse’s Appropriate Nutritional Needs All feeds must be free of dust and mold to be considered safe.

It is for this reason that obtaining a correctly balanced ration is critical to the long-term health of the horse.

  • Most horses can be fed as much hay as they want as long as it is not too much. When putting a horse on grain for the first time, it is normally safe to start the horse with a half-pound of grain per day for every 100 pounds of body weight the horse has gained. Given that the average horse weighs around 1,100 pounds, this equates to 5.5 pounds of grain consumed daily. Every third day, add another half-pound of grain to the horse’s diet until you detect a notable decrease in roughage intake
  • Then repeat the process. Horses should be fed on a regular basis. When it’s hot outside, horses prefer to eat during the cooler hours of the day, so expect earlier and later feeding times during the summer months. Before you give your horses roughage, make sure they have enough grain. Expect to feed at least twice a day, if not three times a day. Avoid making unexpected changes to the sort of rations that are offered or to the timetable of events. It is possible that the horse will stop eating as a result of this. Every day, as recommended by a veterinarian, the horse should be exercised. Maintain a regular check on the oral hygiene of each horse, in order to guarantee there is no pain throughout the feeding process.

A healthy horse may easily consume 2.5 pounds of air-dry feed per day for every 100 pounds of body weight, which is a reasonable amount. This includes hay in addition to the grain that would normally be placed in the bin, and it is crucial to remember this. If you figure out the overall weight for each feeding, you can prevent overfeeding or underfeeding your dog. Pictures taken at lunchtime of horses and ponies at the feeding dish (courtesy of RT and Sgueme) On February 21, 2017, Dr.

  • Grain should not be the major source of energy for a horse’s nutritional needs.
  • Hay and pasture grass will aid in the maintenance of healthy horse health.
  • Mold, thick dust, and nutritional deficiencies are all indicators of musty smells.
  • Poor hay has a coarse texture that can scratch the skin.
  • The horse will desire more grain if the hay is poor, which might result in an imbalanced ration if the hay is inadequate.
  • Grains are handled as a feed concentrate in this procedure. Although it is usual practice to give grain twice daily, the total amount should never exceed 0.5 percent of the horse’s total weight in any single meal. Alternatively, if the horse appears to be still hungry, encourage him to consume additional hay or send him out for a longer amount of time in his pasture. It is best not to feed horses by volume. In particular, this is true for grains, whose weights can vary significantly from one another. If you have a full container of maize, it will feel heavier than other grains since it contains more water. Even pelleted feeds containing a variety of grains might have varying volumes, so be certain that what goes into the trough is based on weight rather than volume
  • And Feed the horse with the proper food for his age. Many grains are packaged and segregated to make it easier for the owners to classify and purchase them. You’ll find foaling grains, adult grains, senior grains, and even activity-based meals among the various options on the market. Each grain is intended to provide the horse with precise nutrients and minerals that the animal need. Choose the proper one to ensure that you do not raise your chances of experiencing abnormal growth.

Overall, if the suggested minimum portion of feed is greater than what your horse should get based on his or her weight, you’ve chosen the incorrect feed for your horse. What makes horses beautiful is their soft oats feeding. It was a lovely experience on Sunday. On January 16, 2017, Gloria Butler (@GloriaDeeButler) tweeted: How to Avoid Overloading Nutrients in Your Diet Today, many feeds are filled with specific nutrients that a horse requires in order to maintain optimum health.

  1. For whatever reason, supplements should only be used when grains or feed do not supply the proper balance of nutrients in the diet.
  2. Mineral and vitamin poisoning is quite frequent in horses who are given grains and supplements that include substances that are highly similar to each other.
  3. Salt is yet another crucial component of a well-balanced ration of foods.
  4. Giving the horse a salt block in their pasture is the quickest and most convenient approach to boost the nutrients that the horse may get from the grains and hay.
  5. In addition, it is critical for horses to have unrestricted access to fresh water at all times as a last stage in their care.
  6. Despite widespread belief to the contrary, giving cold water to a hot horse will not enhance the likelihood of colic developing.
  7. It may be required to feed the horse with more than one source of water in order for them to maintain a well-balanced diet.

If you are unclear of which grains to give your horse, consult with your local veterinarian about developing a customized feeding plan for your horse. This will help you to select the appropriate grain at the appropriate weight to ensure that the horse has a long and happy life.

Flakes of hay: How much to feed your horse?

The fact that horsesare non-ruminant herbivores, which means they have a single stomach digestive system, means that they can consume and use roughages in the same way as cattle or sheep can. Although horses do not have stomachs like cattle, their stomachs work in a manner similar to that of humans, in that feed particles are combined with pepsin, an enzyme that breaks down proteins, and hydrochloric acid, which breaks down solid particles. Although a horse stomach is relatively tiny in compared to the stomachs of other livestock animals, it can only hold roughly 10% of the overall capacity provided by the digestive system.

  • Unfortunately, domesticated horses are only fed once or twice a day, and if they are stabled, they will go for long periods of time without eating.
  • After the feed leaves the stomach, it travels into the small intestine, where the majority of the soluble carbohydrates, or sugars, and protein from the grain are digested and assimilated by the animal.
  • The cecum is a blind sac that is effectively a 10-gallon fermentation vat that contains millions of microorganisms that break down the fibrous components of roughages.
  • The breakdown of fibrous particles by microorganisms continues in the large colon, where water is also absorbed and fecal balls are generated and transmitted via the rectum (rectal passage).
  • Increased soluble carbohydrates in the large intestine result in quick fermentation, which causes an excess generation of gas and lactic acid, which can result in colic and laminitis in horses.

How Much and How Often Horses Should Eat

A horse should be fed multiple short meals throughout the day in order to enhance digestion efficiency while also preventing digestion upset. Is it true that you don’t know how much your horse should be eating on a daily basis? The answer to this issue is dependent on the physiological situation of the animal (whether it is growing, pregnant, or breastfeeding), as well as the horse’s degree of job performance and effort. Consider, on the other hand, the ordinary pleasure horse who works 1–3 hours per week for a fee.

Forage should account for at least 65 percent of this total.

In feed, dry matter (DM) refers to the quantity of feed that does not include any water; the DM content of hay is significantly larger than the DM content of fresh grass.

Keep in mind that the hay analysis should reveal the DM content of your feed. For example, if you are feeding only grass and your hay has 90 percent DM (or 10 percent moisture), your 1,000-pound horse should be fed 20 pounds of hay (18 lb DM/0.9) per day right from the bale.

How to Properly Measure Hay

Weighing hay is the most accurate method of determining the proper quantity to use. However, according to a survey published in the Journal of Equine Veterinary Science (1), more than 85 percent of horse owners who participated in the survey reported measuring the quantity of hay supplied by flakes. When measuring hay using this approach, it is possible to overestimate the quantity of forage being consumed due to variations in forage type, size, and tightness of bales; hence, overestimating the amount of forage consumed is possible.

  • In this case, the amount is arbitrary, such as one coffee can or a scoop of grain.
  • You may easily measure feed quantities in flakes of hay or coffee cans of grain, provided that you first calculate how much each of those units weighs in actual pounds.
  • It is preferable if this amount of food is provided in little portions at numerous times throughout the day.
  • Have you discovered a reliable hay scale?
  • References Adapted in part from Parker, R.2003.Horse Science, 2nd Edition, which is a comprehensive description of the equine digestive system.
  • (1) Hoffman, C.J., L.R.
  • Freeman published a paper in 2009 titled The feeding patterns, supplement usage, and understanding of equine nutrition among a subgroup of horse owners in New England were investigated using a questionnaire.
  • Equine Vet.
  • 29, pp.
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How Much Feed Do Horses Need?

To ensure that your horse maintains a healthy weight and is able to perform at his peak, it is critical that you feed him the appropriate quantity. How much should a horse be fed on a daily basis? The answer is dependent on a variety of things, including the degree of activity of your horse and the quality of your feed. Listed below are some fundamental rules that you may use to calculate how much feed to give your horses.

The 2% Rule

Forage and concentrates should account for around 2 percent of total body weight each day for all horses, regardless of their activity level, according to most professionals (grains). Horses who are performing little to no labor should consume forage that accounts for less than 2 percent of their body weight, with little or no concentrates added. Those that are engaged in intense labor will require forage that is closer to one percent of their body weight, as well as an equal amount of concentrates.

Consider the following example: if you have a 1,000-pound horse who is in light labor, a suitable diet may consist of 17 pounds of hay or hay cubes per day and 3 pounds of grain.

Because grain has a larger energy content than hay, a 1,000-pound horse participating in a rigorous labor program may require 10 pounds of hay and 10 pounds of grain.

Feed Quality

High-quality feed will reduce the amount of feed required, allowing you to feed less. For example, if you want to put weight on a horse that is losing weight while eating 15 pounds of grass hay per day, you may substitute half of that hay with higher-quality alfalfa pellets instead of just giving more of the low-quality hay. This will help the horse gain weight faster. Additionally, there are several sorts of concentrates or grains. Make certain that the feed you’re giving your horse is appropriate for his or her stage of life.

A horse may require 10 pounds of a lower-energy grain per day, yet just 5 pounds of a higher-energy, performance grain.

Depending on how much labor your horse is doing, you can add concentrated grains or extra forage to the mixture.

Q&A: How Much Grain to Feed Horses in Winter?

It is mostly dependent on the different metabolisms of your two horses as to how much grain you should feed them in the winter. It’s possible that your horses are simple to keep and can keep up a modest body condition on hay alone, and that they require nothing more than a daily vitamin and mineral supplement or a balancer pellet to maintain their health at its optimum. If, on the other hand, they are difficult keepers or the harshness of the weather necessitates the consumption of more calories to maintain physical condition, a concentrated feed may be required.

They often specify a feeding range that is suitable for the particular product.

By providing the bare minimum, you are ensuring that the horses’ protein, vitamin, and mineral requirements are covered, as well as a little amount of energy from the feed.

To increase energy consumption, once you reach the upper limit of the manufacturer’s recommendation for that feed, you should switch to a feed that is higher in energy density (such as an elderly feed or a performance feed), supplement with a high-fat supplement (such as vegetable oil or stabilized rice bran), or find higher-quality hay to feed your horse.

  1. However, you should supplement the feed with a vitamin and mineral supplement or reduce the amount of ration balancer used.
  2. Check to make sure that both of your horses have access to fresh water at all times.
  3. A horse in intermediate physical condition has a layer of fat, rather than merely skin, covering the ribs and trotters.
  4. It is also important to keep an eye on the condition of older horses since they might use their energy reserves more quickly and have a more difficult time recovering from weight loss, which is especially true during the winter months.
  5. Micro-Max is an excellent choice for horses that maintain their body weight on diets consisting solely of forage or consisting mostly of forage with modest amounts of concentrate.

Horse Grain: Types and Best Feed Practices

Horse grain supplements your horse’s diet by providing more energy and other nutrients. The hay alone does not sufficient to sustain hardworking horses. They require more calories than can be obtained from hay alone. The following types of horses have higher energy requirements: pregnant mares, nursing mares, developing foals, and hard working horses; endurance horses, race horses, working ranch horses, pack animals, and so on. Learn all you need to know about horse feed concentrates. All horsefeed ratios, including horse grain, are based on your horse’s size, age, and energy requirements, among other considerations.

  1. Hana, a 19-year-old mare weighing 1200 pounds, thrives on hay and 1 pound of grain every day.
  2. Little Jazzy is 28 years old, weighs 675 pounds, and is still going strong!
  3. A horse will consume around 3 percent of his body weight in feed on a daily basis.
  4. The ‘feed ration’ is around 30 pounds.
  5. Horse weight measuring tapes may be purchased in feed stores and tack shops, among other places.
  6. This may be accomplished with the use of a special tape measure made specifically for measuring the weight and height of horses.
  7. This will provide you with a starting point for estimating how much horse food your creature will require.
  8. If a 1000 kg horse is working exceptionally hard, he can get by on 1-8 lbs of grain each day, but can obtain as much as 15 lbs if he is working extremely hard.
  9. Keep the following in mind:
  • Horses who labor hard require more feed calories than horses who are very mildly used. “Easy keepers” of any breed and age require far less food than other horses
  • Yet, Pregnant mares have higher nutritional requirements. In terms of calories per pound, adult horses require less than younger horses
  • ‘hard keepers’ of any breed and age will take more grain calories than other horses.

If you are giving grass hay to your horse or if you have a horse with greater energy requirements, you may find that you need to feed him more grain than we do to our ladies! Beet pulp is also a good source of energy for horses since it is easy to digest and can be easily incorporated into their diet.

Too Much of a Good Thing

Not every horse need grain. Grain, on the other hand, is a vital component of a working horse’s diet. When feeding grains to your horse, extreme caution should be exercised to avoid overfeeding. Equine colic, founder, and laminitis are all caused by overdosing on grain. Grain overdosing is also a leading cause of bone issues (epiphysitis) in young developing horses. When in doubt, start with small grain feed portions (for example, 12 pounds) and gradually raise the amount over time. A horse that has not been eating grain for a long period of time and is suddenly fed a significant amount of grain may colic or develop equine laminitis, which can be fatal or severely crippling.

Horses do not respond well to sudden changes in nutrition.

Make sure you are giving your horse the smallest quantity necessary to suit his energy requirements.

If you don’t weigh anything at least once, you’ll never know how much it is. It’s important to remember that certain grains are heavier than others. If you give corn one month and rolled oats the next, make sure to weigh your animals after each feeding.

  • There should never be more than 5lbs of grain consumed in a single feeding. It is never allowed to exceed 50 percent of total “feed rations” in grain at any time. Never base feed rations on scoop size alone
  • Instead, use a range of scoop sizes.
  • Feed the smallest amount of grain necessary to complete the task at hand. Maintain consistency in your grain selections and introduce adjustments gradually. Feed your horses the same quantity of feed every day. Feed your horses on a consistent regimen at regular intervals. Feed rations should be calculated based on the actual weight of the grain.

Types of Horse Grain

Oats, corn, barley, rye, and rice bran are all examples of cereal grains. Sweet corn on the cob Oats in their whole form Rice bran is a kind of cereal grain. The nutritional content of all horse grains is almost the same. One of the most significant differences between them is the flavor. Another is the price and how quickly they are absorbed. The maximum energy and nutritional value will be obtained by horses from grains that have been rolled, crimped, or cracked. When fed to horses, finely powdered grains might create digestive issues in the animals.

Grain feeders, hay bins, and ground barriers are all good options.

Horses have a tendency to fling their feed everywhere as they hunt for the best portions, so you’ll need a large amount of ground cover for your horse’s eating area that is 8′ x 8′.

The more processed the grain is, the shorter the shelf life (wheat bran and rice bran go stale faster than whole grains). Never feed grains that show any sign of mold. Mold produces mycotoxins that can kill a horse. Galvanized garbage cans and steel barrels with tight fitting lids make great grain storage containers. They keep moisture and rodents out.Once you have a general idea of how much horse grain feed is needed, you can adjust the rations accordingly to her age, energy requirements and health needs. Take the time to weigh your horse and your feed. That way you won’t just be guessing, you’llknowyou have made the best horse feed choices!Remember too, that your vet is a wealth of information. If you have a pregnant horse or a growing foal or a horse that has had laminitis or any other horse food related disease, it is especially important to consult your veterinarian about horse grain feed rations for your equine. For the love of horses….play it safe!

More Equine Topics You May Enjoy

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Learn the most critical Dos and Don’ts when it comes to horse water.

Horse Hoof Care

Learn the fundamentals of horse foot care and how to identify hoof issues.

How to Draw a Horse

Six simple step-by-step sketching courses using stephorse. Learn how to draw horse heads and horse hooves as well as other animals. Return to the top of the page Equine Nutrition is discussed in detail in this section.

Grain For Horses: Not All Horses Need Grain in Their Diet

In Monday Myths, we address popular misunderstandings about a variety of subjects pertaining to equine intestinal health and care, including but not limited to These are actual remarks made by real horse people, and they should be taken seriously. Do you have a question or a topic you’d like to see tackled on the show? Fill out this form to submit your suggestion.

Statement: The basic equine diet includes grass (pasture or hay), grain, and plenty of water.

If you walk into virtually any barn, you will almost certainly find a designated room that is filled with bags and barrels of a range of grain-based feeds. The horses receive their daily ration of sweet feed, pelleted feed, or any other type of processed feed at least twice a day, and occasionally more frequently. Typically, a scoop of grain and two pieces of hay, as well as a day spent on pasture, is a regular meal for most horses. However, it is a myth that horses require grain as part of their meals, as opposed to other animals.

Grain is only an added bonus.

Why We Feed Horses Grain

Because of the fermentation process occurring in the hindgut, the equine digestive system is intended to break down and absorb structural carbohydrates contained in fodder for the horse. Horses may obtain up to 70% of their daily energy requirements from the fermentation of these complex carbohydrates in the hindgut, which is a significant amount. Furthermore, a healthy forage mix provides them with all the protein, lipids, vitamins, and minerals that they require. So why do we feed them grain in the first place?

In order to fulfill this increased caloric requirement, we feed horses grain-based meals. Simple carbohydrates present in starchy feeds such as oats, barley, and maize are easily digested by the horse’s foregut, where they are converted into extra energy for the horse.

The Drawbacks of Feeding a Horse Grain

Essentially, the grains that are used to manufacture concentrated feeds are made up mostly of sugar and starch, which are simple carbohydrates. In order for them to be properly utilized by the horse, they must first be broken down by the stomach and then absorbed through the small intestinal tract. If the horse eats too rapidly or if the meal is too large (usually anything above five pounds), the meal will pass through the foregut without being completely absorbed by the animal. When this undigested starch enters the hindgut, it interferes with the normal fermentation process, resulting in a variety of issues ranging from simple digestive imbalance to severe hindgut acidosis, colonic ulcers, and even colic and laminitis in some cases.

(This is in contrast to the structural carbs found in forage, which take 2-3 days to breakdown in the hindgut.)

Rethink Feeding Your Horse Grain

It’s probable that your horse doesn’t require any grain in her diet if she’s in little or no labor, an easy keeper, or is essentially a pasture pet. If your pasture grass and hay are of great quality and comprise of an adequate mixture, your horse will receive all of the nutrients and energy she requires to maintain her relaxed lifestyle. You may submit samples of your hay and grass to your local agricultural extension office to have the nutritional content of your hay and grass examined to confirm that it is complete.

In this situation, it is critical to reevaluate what and how you are supplying those extra calories.

  • Divide grain meals into several little meals that may be consumed throughout the day. Allowing full access to forage is important for digestive health and to ensure that as much nourishment as possible is obtained. Increase the chewing duration of grain feed by mixing it with chaff or by using a slow feeder to keep the horse from bolting grain. Look for natural, low-starch diets, and stay away from molasses whenever possible. As an alternative to forage, consider using beet pulp, which is a high-calorie feed that is less harmful to your horse’s digestive health than forage because forage is a complex carbohydrate that is processed through hindgut fermentation. Additionally, it provides extra digestive assistance in order to counteract any potential unfavorable effects of grain on the hindgut
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It is a fallacy that all horses require grain as part of their nutritional needs. Reevaluate your horse’s nutritional needs, and if grain isn’t absolutely essential, eliminate it from the diet. Consider rethinking how and what you are feeding your horse if he truly requires the extra energy that grass alone cannot offer. This will ensure that his digestive health and, consequently, his performance are at their best. Horses require grain = urban legend. Consider re-evaluating your horse’s particular requirements, and collaborate with your veterinarian and an equine nutritionist to ensure that her feed regimen is both nutritious and digestible.

Sticker shock: How much does it cost to feed a horse?

If you’ve spent any amount of time around horses, you’re probably aware that they are quite fond of food and like eating. They spend the most of their time on pasture, nibbling away — anything from 16 to 20 hours every day, on average. If they get stuck, they’ll always be ready to get a bite to eat when the opportunity presents itself. Because feed consumption must be maintained at a near-constant level in order to maintain a healthy horse digestive system, the initial cost of equine ownership can be quite a shock when you first begin.

Forage, which is essential to a horse’s health, may cost anywhere from $4 a bale to more than $19 a bale depending on the quality.

With so many variables to consider, it can be difficult to predict how much a person should anticipate to pay. For example, a horse that costs $730 per year to feed in one location may cost over $3,000 per year to feed in another. So, how do you figure out how much it’ll cost you in the end?

Average Monthly Cost to Feed a Horse

Hay is one of the most significant components of your horse’s nutritional intake. It might be tempting to offer more grain in an effort to reduce hay consumption, but a horse really need a lot of long-stem forage in order to be healthy and content. There are many different types of grass and legume available on the market, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. The price of hay is completely dependent on where you reside and from whom you get it. Although it is possible to purchase bales of hay for as little $5 a bale in areas where the crop is frequently grown, traveling to areas where hay must be trucked in can result in a $19 price tag for the same bale.

  • For those of you who are having trouble determining how much hay you should feed your horse, there is an easy rule of thumb you can use to figure it out quickly and easily.
  • The weight of small square bales might vary, but the grass bales are typically between 40 and 50 pounds each.
  • That’s a bit more than 12 bales every month on average.
  • For example, if you can obtain great, horse-quality feed for $5 a bale, you’ll be spending about $60 a month; but, if you have to pay $19 a bale, you’ll be spending $228 a month.
  • As you can see, the cost of feeding a horse is highly dependent on your geographic location.
  • She’s a 28-year-old mare that weighs around 1,000 pounds at the time of this writing.
  • Oh, and we’re based in North Carolina as well.
  • She consumes around $5 per day in hay, or $140 per month.
  • I just have to buy hay from November to March, which is about half the year.
  • However, this does not cover the costs of pasture upkeep and maintenance.
  • Because of this, if you don’t maintain your pasture, it will rapidly become overrun with weeds, resulting in a significant reduction in the quantity of nutrients available to your horses.

If this occurs, you may find yourself having to purchase hay throughout the year, despite the fact that you have a pasture. Keep the following in mind:

  • Horses who have access to pasture for grazing will require less hay. [source: USDA] It is possible that pelleted feeds will minimize the amount of hay required by your horse
  • Nevertheless, bear in mind that your horse need a lot of fiber throughout the day to keep her gut content. Some horses have unusual nutritional requirements and may require specific types of hay, or maybe no hay at all, depending on their condition. Horses are living longer and better lives thanks to the wonders of contemporary nutrition, despite the fact that they are suffering from medical issues.

Feed / Grain

Feed orgrain is regularly offered to horses to supplement their nutritional needs by providing extra calories and nutrients, depending on the circumstances. While many horses under mild labor may get by just well on hay and/or pasture, other horses benefit greatly from, and in some cases require, the additional nourishment provided by a bag. Lactating mares, in particular, burn up a lot of calories and may struggle to consume enough to maintain their physical condition, which is especially true while pregnancy or nursing.

  1. A supplementary feed may also be required for growing foals and horses that are engaged in more hard labor in order for them to acquire the necessary calories and nutrients to keep their bodies in good condition.
  2. Complete diets, which contain all of the forage that a horse need yet are packaged in a handy pellet form, are available from several manufacturers.
  3. While you should avoid overfeeding your horse at any age, a full feed can assist you in keeping your senior horse in excellent health as they age.
  4. These horses can stand there all day and night eating high-quality hay and yet be in poor condition, necessitating the need for an additional boost to keep their physical condition up.
  5. Finally, the amount of money you spend on feed will be determined by the quantity of additional calories your horse requires.
  6. Other folks, on the other hand, are pushing the limits of how much concentration a horse can safely take in order to keep them from appearing like a skeletal structure.
  7. Balancing agents are supplements that provide a certain quantity of vitamins and minerals.

Assuming you pay $35 on a 50-pound bag of balancer, you will only spend $0.70 a day, $4.90 a week, or $19.60 per month on balancer.

Feed balancers may be found on Amazon.

Consider the case of my mare.

It costs around $25 for a 50-pound bag of her feed, which is a little more expensive than some of the other brands.

Yes, it only costs approximately $3 each day, which is about the same as the cost of a small latte at a coffee shop.

It all adds up, though, and $3 a day equates to almost $21 a week, or $84 a month. She costs me $224 a month to feed, when you include in the hay throughout the winter. Keep the following in mind:

  • Always read and follow the instructions on the feeding tube. Any feed modifications must be implemented gradually to avoid gastrointestinal distress. Not all horses “need” grain, therefore don’t feel obligated to feed it if their calorie and nutritional requirements are being satisfied by forage, or by forage and a balancer in combination with forage. Consult your veterinarian or the agricultural extension office for assistance if you are in question.


There is a craze right now for supplementing both humans and animals, and you’ll be hard pushed to find someone who does not supplement their horse’s diet with a little bit extra. There are dozens of different horse supplements available on the market, each designed for a specific purpose. Some are believed to enhance hoof health, while others are said to be relaxing. Some are said to protect the joints, while others are said to ease digestion and assist with respiratory difficulties. Equithrive, a supplement for joint health, is one of the most popular supplements available.

  • When you first start looking into supplements, it might be a bit intimidating because there are so many different kinds available.
  • The good news is that your horse may not require a supplement in most cases.
  • Image courtesy of Canva Regardless of whether you wish to enhance their hoof health, their skin and coat, or whatever other motive you have, there are supplements available to help you.
  • Some supplements may simply cost pennies a day to feed (I’ve seen many that are only $0.40 a day), while others may be prohibitively costly (such as the $5 a day supplement mentioned above).
  • I have it on a subscription, which lowers the total cost, so it only costs roughly $3.71 per day on average for me.
  • Putting it all together at this point, For one horse, I’m paying $328 per month (during the winter).
  • Keep the following in mind:
  • Supplements are not all created equal, and they are not adequately regulated. Carry out your research and purchase from trusted providers
  • Supplements are little additions to your horse’s diet when they are deficient in a particular area. It is far more vital to ensure that they are provided with high-quality fodder and a suitable concentrate
  • Always connect with your veterinarian if you have any health concerns or difficulties with your animals. Despite the fact that a supplement may be exactly what you’re looking for, make careful to screen out any medical concerns if your horse’s behavior has suddenly changed.


When it comes to horse nutrition, water is sometimes disregarded, although it is quite important. Horses require a lot of water, especially when it’s hot outside or when they’re consuming a lot of dry grass and feed. A horse that is simply relaxing in a pleasant pasture may only require 6 gallons of water per day, but a mare who is nursing a foal may require 20 gallons. Drinking water for your horse should be maintained cold and clean to encourage him to drink. In order to keep the water from freezing and to encourage your horse to drink more, you may need to heat it slightly in the winter.

Image courtesy of Canva Calculating the cost of water can be a challenging task.

For example, if I were to live in a nearby city and use city water, the meter would cost around $4 and one unit would cost approximately $2.17.

(748 gallons). Taken as a whole, the 280 gallons every 28 days costs around $0.80, not counting the cost of the meter. The cost of drinking water for a single horse will be essentially non-existent in either case. Keep the following in mind:

  • It is possible for a horse to suffer from impaction colic if they do not drink enough water. Maintain the cleanliness of your water troughs and buckets since old, stagnant water is disgusting, and your horse is well aware of this. (Would you want to have a sip of it? In order to encourage a horse to drink more water, salt blocks or electrolytes might be provided.

How to Feed a Horse on a Budget

No matter what your circumstances are, you don’t want to overpay for your horse’s hay or feed. If you’re on a tight budget, pastureing your horse as much as possible is the most cost-effective option. A well-maintained pasture may provide a significant portion of your horse’s nutritional needs, if not the entire amount. If you board, you might want to consider pasture-board, which provides you with a round bale whenever you need it. Boarding in general can help you save money on feed since large barns can buy hay in bulk and save you money on feed.

  • While it may cost you somewhat more money up front, it will ultimately save you money in the long run.
  • Many feed retailers will also give you a discount if you purchase a whole pallet of feed.
  • When it comes to sticking to a budget, planning ahead is really beneficial since you may be on the lookout for bargains.
  • When your feed expense is getting out of hand, you might try to find a less expensive variety of hay and supplement it with a supplement to make up for the nutritional difference.
  • Check it for mold, weeds, and other pollutants, because vet expenses from substandard hay may be quite expensive, and this can put a strain on your financial situation.
  • You should also avoid attempting to save money by reducing the amount of hay available to your horses, since this can result in ulcers and behavioral difficulties.
  • You’ll be better off increasing your hay budget and deducting money from other areas of your budget, such as the 50 saddle pads a month you anticipate to purchase (ha!).

Frequently Asked Questions

Every day, a horse’s forage intake should be around 1.5-2 percent of his or her body weight. If you choose to feed a concentrate, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and alter the quantities as needed to keep the animal in excellent health. Always remember to weigh feed and hay rather than relying on volume or “flakes” to determine the amount needed. Find out more about the food that horses consume.

Which hay is best for horses?

Horses require hay that is of high quality. Given that they have a higher sensitivity than other animals, not all hay is suitable for them. Hay that is clean and smells good should be chosen over hay that is contaminated with mildew, dust, weeds, and other impurities. Although the kinds of hay vary, the majority of horse hay is grass, such as orchard or timothy.

Depending on where you reside, you may also utilize coastal, Kentucky bluegrass, or fescue as your turf. Depending on your horse’s nutritional requirements, you may also choose to give a legume hay such as alfalfa or clover. Find out more about the many varieties of hay available.

What supplements does my horse need?

It is possible that your horse will require supplements. A high-quality, well-balanced diet is sufficient for the majority of horses; but, if they are deficient in particular minerals, you may need to supplement their diet. A supplement to improve your horse’s mood or stress reaction, support joint health as a result of their physical activity, or support their skin and immunological response as a result of being sensitive to insect bites are all options you might explore.

Parting Thoughts

Horses may be either inexpensive or costly to feed, depending on where you live and the specific requirements of your horse. If you are just thinking about getting a horse and are wondering how much you would have to spend on feeding it, this may be an unpleasant experience. It is, nevertheless, one of the most crucial factors to consider when considering whether or not you can afford a horse, because adequate nutrition is the foundation for health and happiness in general. In order to narrow down the expense of feeding a horse, you should speak with other horse owners in your immediate vicinity.

If you’re thinking about boarding, make a few phone calls to different facilities to get an idea of what you may anticipate to pay for boarding.

It is advisable to set aside money for emergencies or to start with a low budget in order to account for these unanticipated costs.


Go to the following address:

  • Horse Hay Frequently Asked Questions: List of Types of Hay, What Hay is the Best, and so on. In this article, we will discuss Winter Hay 101: How Much to Feed Your Horse (And Why)
  • The Horse Hay Nets and Bags: A Beginner’s Guide
  • What Horses Eat (And Why They Eat It)
  • What Horses Eat (And Why They Eat It)
  • Do Horses Consume Meat? A Fact or a Fiction
  • Calculate the average cost of a horse in your area (state by state)

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