Tips and Tricks: Feeding Groups of Horses

Ideally, horses should be separated when eating their meals, as this ensures each horse gets their full ration and supplement servings. However, it is not possible or practical to do this at every facility. That means we have to be very aware of herd dynamics, and we may need to get creative during daily feedings. When you are feeding multiple horses in a paddock or pasture, here are some tips to make sure they are eating what they are supposed to!

-Feed in order of dominance.

-Separate only the bully horse of the group. Sometimes there is only one dominant horse that makes feeding time difficult. If you can’t separate them all, maybe you can separate that one!

-Same goes for the horse that gets picked on. It may be a good idea to separate a more passive horse so they can eat in peace. You can also try “guarding” them in the field and keeping the other horses away, but this may not be safe and is time consuming.

-If there is a particularly dramatic/disruptive horse, maybe one that likes to sample everyone’s food and switch buckets, you can also separate just that horse.

-Use feed bags! This eliminates the time component of separating the herd, but they will still get their full ration.

-When possible, group herds by nutritional needs. For example, an easy keeper eating 1 lb of ration balancer may be difficult to keep with a less dominant horse eating 4 lbs of performance feed. The less dominant horse will need a lot more time to eat!

-Get creative! Several years ago I used to have a yearling, Buzz, turned out with my older, more dominant gelding, Indigo. Buzz took a lot longer to eat than Indigo. Instead of separating them, I added some hay stretcher in Indigo’s bucket to extend the amount of time it took him to eat. It didn’t have much nutritional value, but it kept him busy enough to let Buzz finish his food. Indigo is an easy keeper, so I am limited in what I can feed him without him gaining too much weight. This worked very well for me at the time.

How do you feed a group of horses?

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