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Horse Feeding

( Originally Published 1915 )

Horse Feeding on Scientific Basis.—Horse feeding has had more careful, accurate study than has the feeding of any other animal, not excepting man. Tables have been made for, and rations tried on, express horses, cavalry horses, farm horses, and horses of all kinds at the different experiment stations, and from all of these we are led to believe that each 1000 pounds of a horse at heavy work needs 26 pounds of digestible dry matter, from which come 2 pounds of protein and 16 pounds of carbohydrates, each twenty-four hours. This gives a ratio of 1: 8 instead of the old one of 1: 6, though there are many scientific feeders who prefer the old narrow ration over the wide one. A standard might be made as follows : This is the ration fed the work horses at the Iowa station. Horses weighing 1200 pounds get 10 pounds of grain (oats, corn and bran, 3: 2: 1) and 12 pounds of hay each, per day. Horses weighing 1500 get 15 pounds of hay and 15 pounds of the same grain mixture. The New Hampshire station found the following fairly satisfactory: Timothy hay, 10 pounds; corn, 8 pounds; and bran, 7 pounds for each 1200 pounds of horse. Correspondence shows that a favorite ration for truck horses in our cities consists of 15 to 20 pounds of corn and oats, equal parts of each, and about 15 pounds of mixed hay each day for horses weighing 1500 pounds. When we figure these out by the tables for balancing rations, we find that the proportions approach the standards, but the total amount fed is somewhat below the standards.

Some General Principles.—The condition of both the animal and the feed, as well as the time of year and the work being done, affect the amount of feed needed. Timothy hay is a general favorite among feeds for horses. It can be grown almost anywhere, is relished by horses and is comparatively free from dust. Timothy is more digestible if cut early. Oats are favored because they seem to agree with horses and give life and spirit; however, the experiments tried by feeding oats and then corn, changing about with the members of a team doing the same work, show that a horse when fed corn does as well as when fed oats.

Horses, like other farm animals, should have access to salt at all times, but if they get it only at irregular intervals they are apt to eat too much at one time. Perhaps more horses are injured by being fed too much than by being fed too little. It is not kindness to feed an animal merely because it will eat when tempted. It is not kindness to feed a horse just before he is put to hard work. Some of the leading expressmen have found it a good practice to feed the horse about one-quarter of his daily ration in the morning, one-quarter at noon and the other half at night. The horse has a small stomach in proportion to his size. Some of the food is forced through before it is thoroughly mixed with the digestive juices, hence it is a good plan to let the horse eat hay for a time after he comes in at night and then receive his grain later. This is especially true if the horse is tired or nervous. There is a difference of opinion as to when is the best time to water a horse ; some prefer before feeding and others after. It would seem that it depends somewhat upon the horse.

Colic and Feeding.—" The danger of colic," says Gay in " Productive Horse Husbandry," " from putting a horse to work immediately after eating is unquestionable, as most cases of indigestion in working horses occur between one and four o'clock in the afternoon. In view of these facts, there is good reason to conclude that noontime spent in rest after moderate drink, and the amount of the noon feed added to the night allowance, would be more beneficial to a horse if it is impossible to allow him proper time and place to feed."

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