Feeding Horses: What Is a Forage?

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Pasture, or grass, is a forage.

Forages contain a high crude-fiber content.  In general, a forage would be grass or hay.  Horses should be fed to horses because they provide nutrients.  But they don’t do just that.  Forage keeps up the muscle tone in the GI tract and provides horses with something to do.  Without forage, horses can develop bad habits such as stall weaving and wood-chewing.

According to Feeding and Care of the Horse, forages have the following characteristics:

They are bulky.

They high in fiber and low in digestible energy.

Forages are high in calcium and potassium and low in phosphorous. 

Sun-cured hays are higher in vitamins E, A, and K.

Vary in protein content.

Horses should have access to pasture in moderation.  But hay can be fed in larger amounts.  It is recommended that horses be fed many small meals throughout the day or else get their hay in a slow feeder to make it last longer.  This simulates natural grazing activity.

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Hay should be fed in little bits to mimic natural grazing.

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