To accurately calculate how much you need to feed your horse or pony there are a few simple steps to follow so you are able to create a balanced diet.
Horses should consume about 2.5% of their bodyweight per day according to their condition and workload, so to find out how much you need to feed your horse the first step is to calculate your horse’s bodyweight.
There are a number of ways in which you can do this including using a weigh tape, a horse weigher or by calculating your horses weight using the formula below:
Bodyweight (kg): Heart girth (cm) ² x body length (cm)/11877
To measure the heart girth place a measuring tape at the base of the withers and wrap it around the horse, bringing it just behind his elbows. The length of the horse should be measured from point of shoulder to point of buttock.
The chart below can be used as a rough guide to help estimate a horses bodyweight according to height, but this does not take into account the condition or build of a horse.
|10 – 11.3||150 – 200|
|12 – 12.3||200 – 250|
|13 – 13.3||300 – 350|
|14 – 14.3||400 – 450|
|15 – 15.3||500 – 550|
|16 – 16.3||550 – 600|
|17 +||600 +|
Remember, your horse or pony should be fed according to bodyweight not by height.
Now you know your horses bodyweight you are able to calculate the total amount of feed (concentrate and forage) that you horse or pony needs to eat per day using the formula below, remembering that the horse will consume about 2.5% of their bodyweight per day.
Horse Weight x 2.5% = total amount of feed needed per day (kg)
For example a horse weighing 500kg
500 x 2.5% = 12.5kg of total feed needed per day
Now you know the total amount of feed your horse needs to be eating per day you need to work out what percent of this needs to be concentrate, and what percent forage bearing in mind your horses workload and condition.
A horse of moderate weight should have a condition score of 3 where the neck flows smoothly into the shoulder, the back should be level (no crease or ridge), there should be a layer of fat over the ribs so that they are not visually distinguishable but easily felt and you should not be able to feel the hip bone.
Use the chart below to help you decide the concentrate and forage proportions of your horses diet, bearing in mind at least 50% of your horses diet should be forage.
|Activity||Concentrate (%)||Forage (%)|
|Maintenance||0 – 5||95 – 100|
|Breed/Growth||5 – 10||90 – 100|
|Conditioning||10 – 20||80 – 90|
|Light Work||10 – 20||80 – 90|
|Medium Work||20 – 30||70 – 80|
|Heavy Work||40 – 50||50 – 60|
For example a 15.2hh, 500kg horse in light work that needs a bit more condition should be fed a diet of about 20% concentrate and 80% forage.
By calculating the total amount of feed per day we know he needs a total of 12.5kg of forage and concentrate a day.
So to work out the total amount of concentrate a day:
12.5 x 20% = 2.5kg of concentrate per day
And to work out the total amount of forage a day:
2.5 x 80% = 10kg of forage per day.
So, a diet of 2.5kg of concentrates and 10kg of forage equals a total amount of 12.5kg of feed per day.
Now try it on your horse or pony.
If you are having problems calculating your horse’s nutritional requirements please use the contact form to get personal advice tailored to the needs of your horse or pony from our equine nutritionists.