Horse Diet: How Much Does A Horse Eat Per Day?

Last Updated on June 13, 2022 by Guillermina

Before you buy a horse, you need to know the rules. One of these includes being aware of how much a horse eats per day. Find out what to prepare for here!

Horses make great farm animals, show stoppers, and pets. If you’re planning on buying a few stallions and mares, knowing how much food they eat daily will help you prepare better. These majestic four-legged creatures have a big appetite, and they have the bodies to show it. You should ensure you’ll be able to provide your horses with enough nutritious food before you buy them.

In this article, I share how much food horses eat each day, what the best diet is for them, and how to feed your horses to ensure they get enough nutrients.

How Much Does A Horse Eat Per Day?

A full-grown horse will eat about 11 – 15 pounds of hay per day. This equals approximately 1,5% to 3% of their body weight if your horse weighs around 980 pounds.  

Your horse may need more or less depending on their metabolism, workload, and what else they may be eating. How much your horse eats also depends on the time of year.  

Ponies eat less than larger horses, and a pregnant mare also needs different amounts of nutritious food.

Horses eat grass or hay, so if they have free access to these, you need to keep an eye on how much they consume. Too much fresh, lush grass can lead to an overweight horse. Overfeeding hay will have the same consequence. 

Feeding too little hay or grass can lead to an underweight horse. You can determine the amount of hay your horses need by calculating about 2% of their body weight.

The Best Diet For Domesticated Horses

Horses are herbivores and need specific diets to stay healthy. They have long digestive tracts and require high amounts of roughage. You should serve your horse small, frequent meals over the course of the day. Include the following in their diet:

Pasture Grass: Quality pasture and tender plants will contain most of the nutrients your horse needs to stay healthy. It also contains silica, an essential element for dental health.

Hay: An excellent second choice for horses when fresh grass isn’t available is hay. You should test your hay supply to ensure there’s no shortfall in vitamins and minerals.

Grains: Your domesticated horse will love oats! You can also feed them small amounts of corn, but steer away from wheat.

Concentrate Mixes: Concentrates are usually a mixture of flaxseeds, beet pulp, grains, and molasses. It provides energy, bran, and vitamins and minerals in a tasty combination. These mixes make up for any shortfall in nutrition and provide quick energy sources.  

Minerals and Salt: You can add salt and mineral supplements to concentrate mixes or give your horse a salt block to lick.

Treats: Horses like treats. You can give yours carrots, apples, and other fruits or veggies. Keep this to a minimum, though, since some fruits and veggies can cause intestinal discomfort.

Water: Always ensure that your horse has a fresh, clean water supply.

What Do Horses Eat In The Wild?

 What are the 5 types of feeds for horses?

Wild horses typically graze on large grassland. Here, they find grass, edible plants, shrubs, and the seed heads of grasses to nibble on.

Wild horses don’t have the benefit of someone feeding them hay and concentrated mixes. They always live near fresh, clean water. It’s estimated that wild horses graze 15 to 17 hours per day.

How To Feed A Horse

Here are some tips to remember when feeding your horses!

  • Feed high-quality roughage with a complimenting grain.
  • Feed by weight, not volume.
  • Never feed moldy or dusty grain, hay, grass, or other feed.
  • Offer fresh, clean water before food.
  • Only supplement with hard feed when absolutely necessary.
  • Feed your horse at the same time every day.
  • Don’t make changes to routine and feed gradually.
  • Feed according to your horse’s size and workload.
  • Feed many small meals during the day.

How Much Water Should Horses Drink Per Day?

Horses need water to keep their bodies functioning. 

Dehydration from lack of water can be fatal to your horse.

Horses grazing on pasture may consume little to no water, while horses consuming dry food may consume a lot.

Your horse should always have access to fresh, clean water. Depending on the day’s heat or the exercise your horse typically does, they will drink more or less water than usual.  

The average horse drinks 5 to 10 gallons per day. 

To Sum It Up

Horses are big and need enough food to fuel their bodies with the energy they require to do whatever you need them to. Your horse’s activity level will determine their daily food and water intake, so you should study them closely and adjust their portions accordingly.

Only feed your horses good quality hay and fresh vegetables. This will keep them healthy and help them grow strong. You should also ensure that they always have access to clean water. Installing an automatic water feeder is a good idea to lessen the workload of giving your horses water every day.

I hope this article was helpful and that you enjoyed reading it. If you have any more questions about a horse’s diet, ask them in the comments, and I’ll get back to you!

FAQs

How much do horses drink a day?

Horses typically drink about 5 to 10 gallons of water each day. The amount they require depends on their activity level and the weather.

What are the 5 types of feeds for horses?

The best horse feed is alfalfa hay. You can also give yours grass hay, oats, sorghum, and specific vegetables.

What is the most common horse feed?

The most popular hose feed is hay. It's nutritious and widely available.

What is the cost of horse feed?

A healthy horse's monthly feed can cost you just under or even over $250, depending on what you give them.