Horses in the wild generally spend 16 hours a day on pasture to eat. Hay is essential to give domestic horses the same energy intake. This diet ensures better digestion and helps breeders to increase the physical performance of their animals.
Why give hay to your horse?
Horses are used to consuming dry fodder such as hay on a daily basis. This type of provision is essential to ensure their good health. It is important to know that horse hay is essentially composed of fibre. The animal requires the help of a microflora in its large intestine to absorb them. The digestion will take place over long hours, which contributes to a slow carbohydrate source. This way, it will always have an energy generator.
Hay is also to be preferred to straw since it provides more energy for the same quantity. It avoids digestive diseases linked to acid reflux such as ulcers or colic. Its absorption is easier, as it is more easily tolerated.
The advantages of hay
The horse has a complex physiology, its body can only absorb water when it consumes nutrients at the same time. Ingesting horse hay allows the horse to rehydrate while providing sufficient energy.
Horses are used to eating continuously for 16 hours when they are free in the wild. In a stall, this time is reduced to about 3 hours. Prolonged inactivity encourages the appearance of tic and diminishes their physical skills. Giving them hay can prevent them from becoming bored, as digestion can take up to 2 hours.
By chewing for a long time, the horse produces a large quantity of saliva. Thus, the basicity of this secretion opposes the gastric acidity which is harmful to the animal. The risk of gastric ulcers is eliminated by eating hay.
When to give hay to your horse?
According to research, it has been proven that a horse needs an intake of 1.5% of its weight in fodder. As a minimum, a 500 kg horse should consume 9 kg of horse hay. This feed must be distributed in two stages to provide the animal with a permanent occupation. Water may be given before or after the meal to prevent dehydration.
It is important to know that each horse has a different state of health. This is a criterion that will influence the quantity of hay to be distributed. With a too slow metabolism and a difficulty to absorb, this intake must be considerably reduced. It is also necessary to ensure the nutritional quality of the product.