Feed by Weight, Not by Volume

To properly feed a horse, you must feed them by weight and not by volume. Meaning, to ensure a horse receives the proper balance of nutrients, their feed should be weighed out, rather than just “scooping” out an estimate of the amount (volume) of feed.

This is one of the most important aspects when determining how much to feed a horse to ensure your animal is not being underfed or even overfed.

Feeds will weigh differently based on their nutrient content and how they are processed.

  • A single quart of Seniority Pellet weighs 1.38 lb.
  • In comparison, a single quart of Seniority Textured weighs 1.13 lb.
  • While it is the same formulated feed, its type (pellet vs textured) influences how much it weighs.

To be able to calculate how much to feed your horse, you will first need to know how much your animal weighs. Most farms do not have access to a livestock scale to weigh their horse. However, it has become a common, acceptable practice to estimate a horse’s weight using a tape measure. In fact, research has shown that using this method provided fairly accurate results.

To accurately calculate a horse's weight:

  1. Have your horse stand on a flat surface.
  2. Measure the heart girth around the midsection of the animal, right behind the withers and elbow.
  3. Measure the length of the animal from the front of the shoulder to the point of the rump.
  4. Use the following equation to get an estimated weight: [(heart girth in inches)2 x length in inches)] 330
  5. As an example, suppose a horse has a heart girth of 77 inches and length of 68 inches: 
    1. [(77)2 x 68)] ÷ 330 =
    2. [(5929 x 68)] ÷ 330 =
    3. 403,172 ÷ 330 = 1220 lb

For most horses, it is recommended they recieve 2-3% of their body weight in feedstuff per day. For a 1200 lb horse, that would equal 24 to 36 lb of feedstuff per day. Of this, a minimum of 1.5% of body weight in forage daily is recommended and many horses will benefit from feeding above the minimum recommendation. The percent of forage to concentrate fed per day will depend on the activity of the horse and the specific feeds being used.

The exact weight of the feed given per day will depend on the quality of the forage and concentrate fed. Additionally, if a horse starts to lose condition and drop weight, it would be recommended to slowly increase the weight of the feed being given each day or switch to a product that is more calorie-dense. Likewise, if the horse began to increase weight above an undesirable body condition, it would be recommended you feed less each day. If this decrease results in a total daily intake less than the minimum feeding recommendation, a switch to a less calorie-dense full intake feed or a ration balancer would be necessary to ensure non-energy nutrient requirements are still being met.

All of our Tribute feeds come with feeding directions with recommendations based on the weight and activity of the horse. Since feeding situations are dynamic, we encourage you to reach out to us directly to develop a personalized feeding plan tailored to each of your horses.

weight of tribute products
Article By: Chris J. Mortensen, Ph.D.
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