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Outdoor feeding management and needs of horses - an overview

Saastamoinen, Markku (2011) Outdoor feeding management and needs of horses - an overview. In: Housing and management of horses in Nordic and Baltic climate, Nordic Association of Agricultural Scientists, 7 (2), NJF Report, pp. 44-47.

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Summary

Feeding horses outdoors in winter and cold climate presents a challenge to horse owners and stable
managers. Low temperatures, harsh winds and rain, snow and ice all contribute to the increasing
nutrient requirements a horse has to keep themselves warm and maintain their body weight. The
most challenging is to feed young growing horses – the largest group of horses kept in loose stables
- the focus being on the energy demands of the horse. When the climatic energy demands are taken
into account, also the weanling horses can maintain their body condition and proper growth (Autio,
2008).
Although horses are fed in groups, their individual needs have to be considered applying individual
feeding. Some studies show both breed and individual differences in the digestibility of nutrients or
energy demands among some horse breeds used in the Nordic countries (Saastamoinen, 1993;
Ragnarsson, 2009; Jensen et al., 2010). There are also some studies found a tendency toward higher
digestibility in ponies than in horses. Some individuals are so called “easy keepers” accumulating
fat easily in their body. In addition, the amount of voluntary exercise of horses varies resulting
different energy needs and feeding levels.
To keep horses health and to guarantee their wellbeing, it is important to take care of the hygienic
quality of the feeds and feeding facilities in the paddocks or loose stables. Poor hygienic quality of
feeds and feeding may cause sever problems both in gastro-intestinal tract and airways of the horse.
Feeds stored and fed outside alter poor climatic conditions, and may be source of many harmful
micro-organisms.
Eating and feeding is also part of the social life of the horses in paddocks and the loose housing
systems. The horse can be characterised as a ‘herd’, ‘nomadic’ and ‘flight-animal’, which spends
about 60% of its daily behaviour on voluntary food intake (Duncan, 1980; Vulink, 2001; Davidson,
1999).


EPrint Type:Conference paper, poster, etc.
Type of presentation:Paper
Keywords:horses, outdoor feeding, health, welfare
Subjects: Animal husbandry > Feeding and growth
Research affiliation: Finland > MTT Agrifood Research
Related Links:http://www.mtt.fi/english
Deposited By: Koistinen, Riitta
ID Code:19453
Deposited On:23 Sep 2011 09:27
Last Modified:23 Sep 2011 09:27
Document Language:English
Status:Published
Refereed:Not peer-reviewed

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