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Standlee Barn Bulletin

The Standlee Barn Bulletin is your source for insightful articles about premium western forage and beyond.

Decrease horse risk of colic with nutrition management

How to Decrease Your Horse’s Risk of Colic with Nutrition Management

Colic is one of the most feared experiences of any horse owner. Are there preventative measures we can take to help minimize the risk through the nutrition we provide our horses?

There are two types of stress performance horses can experience, physical or psychological. Let’s focus on the psychological and how it pertains to feed management.

What Are Horses Supposed to Eat?

Horses are designed to digest forage, grazing throughout the day (up to 17 hours a day). Modern horses are often stalled, and meal fed with a cereal grain-based diet. Any opportunity we have to bring more “normal” grazing habits to their lives, the better.

Horses that are not provided enough forage or hay can result in the following:

  • Hindgut acidosis
  • Colic
  • Gastric ulcers
  • Cribbing
  • Wood chewing
  • Behavior issues – weaving, unexplained aggression, allergy symptoms

Horses are recommended to have a minimum of 1.5% of their body weight in forage or hay per day. For a 1,000-pound horse, that is about 15 pounds of hay per day.

Recommended Solutions Through Feed Management

In what ways can improve feeding management for our horses?

  • Mimic grazing behavior
  • Feed horses from ground level to improve saliva production
  • Slow the rate of intake
  • Increase the number of meals feed, when grazing is limited
  • Avoid rapid feed changes, as it can cause digestive upset

Want to learn more about colic and feed management? One of our Standlee equine nutritionists, Dr. Tania Cubitt, goes into further detail about the following points in a webinar recording titled, “How to Decrease Your Horse’s Risk of Colic with Nutrition Management”:

  • Normal Foraging Behavior
  • Benefits of Forage
  • Stress
  • Feeding Management
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