Feeding horses can be expensive; how do you make sure you are spending your money wisely and is there anything you can do to reduce the cost of feeding?
Keep it simple
- If your horse needs a hard feed to maintain condition or provide energy for work (not all horses do!), it may be more economical to choose one feed rather than having a ‘shopping list’ of different feeds and supplements, which may mean that you’re doubling up on certain nutrients.
- Feed plenty of good-quality forage (hay, haylage or grass). .This will help to reduce the amount of hard feed your horse needs, thus saving money. Bear in mind that not all horses need forage with a high nutritional value, for example, a late cut meadow hay will suit a good-doer much better than an early cut ryegrass haylage. Horses that maintain weight easily on forage alone will not need large quantities of concentrates and so a low intake, nutrient-rich balancer i.e. Connolly’s RED MILLS PerformaCare Balancer, is ideal.
Connolly’s RED MILLS PERFORMA CARE Balancer is a low intake, nutrient dense feed that is packed full of all the essential micronutrients needed to balance the forage portion of the diet. It is specifically formulated to be fed in very small quantities (e.g. 100g/ 100kg bodyweight for a horse in light work).
- Don’t compromise on quality. Cutting back to a lower quality hard feed may prove a false economy. Paying for high quality, cooked ingredients will increase the bioavailability of the feed which will have benefits for your horse’s digestive system and your pocket. Unprocessed feeds with less digestible ingredients will be required to be fed in higher volumes, therefore increasing your cost per day.
Weigh your feed
- Weigh your feed. It’s easy to give your horse a little more than they need each day and over time this can add to your feed bill and your horse’s waistline! For example, if your horse was fed a heaped Stubbs scoop of cubes, when they only need a flat scoop, you will have ‘wasted’ approximately ½ bag of feed per month.
Consider supplements carefully
- Supplements are an important part of many horses’ diets; for horses that compete and travel frequently electrolytes are a must, likewise for some horses a calmer can make all the difference. However, if you are feeding multiple supplements it is worth speaking to our nutritional team. They may be able to help you reduce the number of supplements you need or in some cases recommend a feed that already contains key beneficial extras. For example, the feed in the Connolly’s RED MILLS Care Range all contain our unique Care Package which includes: pure, protected yeast and two prebiotics (FOS and MOS) to aid digestive health, a natural gastric acid buffer to support stomach health, elevated levels of biotin for hoof health, plus a blend of powerful antioxidants including vitamin E, selenium and vitamin C for immune health.
- With the cost of fuel remaining very high, provided you have sufficient storage and can use the feeds within their shelf life, consider buying in bulk. This will mean you don’t have to drive to your feed store/ stockist quite as often. Connolly’s RED MILLS Competition and Care feed are available in our unique Nutrient Fresh Management System (NFMS) packaging. This uses seven tiers of natural preservation to maintain perfect freshness for up to twelve months and are ideal if you are planning to stock up.
- Make sure your worming program is up to date. A high parasite burden can reduce nutrient absorption and lead to weight loss. Addressing any worm infestation will improve digestive efficiency and so your horse will maintain condition better on less hard feed.
- Get your horse’s teeth checked. Poor dental condition can have a big impact on your horse’s condition, particularly if they are unable to chew their forage or feed correctly. Attending to any underlying dental problems will mean that your horse maintains condition better on less hard feed. If your horse has a dental problem that cannot be resolved, (e.g. worn or missing teeth) please contact our expert nutritional team as your horse may need a specialist feeding plan.
- Feeding straights such as Connolly’s RED MILLS Flaked Oats can be an economical option. However, it’s important to remember that cereals alone will not provide optimal levels of all the vital micronutrient your horse needs. When cereals are fed as the main ‘hard feed’, a specifically formulated cereal balancer should be added to the ration to ensure the diet contains optimal levels of essential amino acids, vitamins and minerals, for example RED MILLS Oat Balancer Pellets/ Oat Balancer Cooked Mix.