How Many Calories Does a Horse Need? – The Truth

Last Updated on June 13, 2022 by Guillermina

Putting out hay is pretty simple, but how many calories does a horse need per day? If you want yours to stay healthy, you need to know more than just buying the right food. 

You can’t properly care for your horse without knowing how much they need to eat. Providing them with a balanced diet is also essential in helping them stay in top shape.

In this article, I discuss how many calories horses need per day and give you tips on keeping their diet balanced and yummy!

How Many Calories Does A Horse Need?

The amount of calories your horse needs will depend on their activity level. Horses who primarily rest need about 15,000 calories a day compared to horses who get ridden a lot or do heavy work that need about 33,000 calories each day. 

The Best Diet For Horses

Horses are grazers by nature, eating small meals frequently. Their natural diet consists mainly of grass, which is heavy in roughage. To imitate their wild menu as closely as possible, you should feed your horse a fiber-based diet. You can include grass, hay, haylage, or a hay replacement.

It’s important to not give your horses too much grain. Doing so can cause intestinal issues like colic. You should feed your horse no more than 1% of their body weight in roughage like hay, pasture, and other grainy plants. 

 Can you feed horses once a day?

Horses need a diet that reflects their needs. Take the following into account when you determine these:

  • Age
  • Weight
  • Horse Breed
  • Health
  • Degree of Work
  • Time of The Year
  • Area Climate

Some horses are easier to feed and need fewer nutrients. Other horses are particularly tough to keep healthy and require extra care. You must understand how to feed your horse breed to ensure they get all the nutrients they need. 

Your horse might also have a fragile GI tract. The feeds you provide for them should not just have the ability to fulfill your horse’s nutritional needs but also be compatible with your horse’s gastrointestinal tract.

To Keep Your Horse Healthy, Their Diet Should Consist Of The Following:

Pasture Grass: Plants and grass that are tender offer the most nutrients to horses. It also contains silica which is good for your horse’s teeth.

 How much does a horse eat per day?

Hay: The next best thing to pasture grass is hay. You should, however, restrict your horse from 24/7 access to it in a bale feeder. 

Grains: You should include grains in your horse’s diet in moderation. Horses who eat too much grain can experience problems with their health. Good grains for horses include corn, oats, and wheat.

Concentrate Mixes: If your horse has any nutritional deficiencies, you can get a concentrated mix made for their needs. These boost nutrition and are a quick source of energy.

Salt and Minerals: You can give salts and minerals as an extra supplement to your horses by mixing it in their feed or placing loose blocks in the pasture they graze. 

Treats: Fruits and vegetables should be the only treats you give your horses. You should incorporate small amounts into their feeding plan. 

Water: A horse’s diet is incomplete without water. 

 What hay has the most calories?

How Many Times a Day Should Horses Be Fed?

Horses typically need two meals a day. While some owners will feed up to three times, you need to keep your horse’s specific needs in mind.

You should feed your horse at no more than +-12 hour intervals and ensure that you stick to a solid routine. 

Helping Your Horse Gain Weight 

If your horse is underweight, they will develop health issues that could be fatal if left untreated. Here’s how you can help your horse gain weight!

Dental Health

Check your horse’s teeth. You need to ensure that they have no sharp edges restricting them from chewing properly. 

General Health

Ensure that your horse is up to date with all their vaccines and deworm them. Horses with a weakened immune system also experience appetite loss.

Free Access

Your horse should have free access to fresh water and nutritional food. If you notice your horse overfeeding, you can take their food away for short periods.

High-Calorie Diet

The easier way for your horse to pick up some weight is by eating a high-calorie diet. Foods like alfalfa and beet pulp prevent malnutrition, so it’s best to include this in their diet instead of regular grass.

High-Fat Diet

You can pour vegetable oil over your horse’s usual food to up the fat content in their diet. This is one of the simplest and least expensive ways to add fat to your horse’s meal plan.

Add Supplements

Adding feed supplements to your horse’s meal plan can help them gain weight.

Healthy Treats

Horses love treats, and feeding them nutritious fruits and veggies will help them gain weight. 


Horses aren’t picky eaters, but you need to provide them with the right type of hay to ensure they stay healthy. An occasional fruit or veggie treat will also keep them happy, and the extra nutrients they get from it won’t do any harm!

Remember to always provide your horse with clean, fresh water and ensure that they have a steady food supply throughout the day and night. 

I hope you found the tips in this article helpful and that you have a better idea about how many calories your horse needs per day. If you have any questions, pop them in the comments!

 What is a good balanced diet for horses?


How much does a horse eat per day?

Horses eat about 1.5 - 2% of their body weight per day.

What is a good balanced diet for horses?

A balanced diet for your horse can include high-quality alfalfa, a complementing grain, a fruit or veggie treat, and fresh water.

What hay has the most calories?

Alfalfa has the most calories and is the healthiest to feed your horse.

Can you feed horses once a day?


You can feed your horse once a day, but ensure to put enough food out for them to enjoy a steady supply until their next feed.