Determine How Much Energy Your Forage Is Providing

18-214 Determine-How-Much-Engery-Your-Forage-Is-Providing


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When reviewing your horse’s diet, it is best to determine the amount of forage fed by weight instead of volume.

The weight of a flake of hay can vary depending on the size and type of bale.

You don’t have to weigh your hay out each time you feed; instead, take the average weight of multiple flakes and use that as a good estimate.

Remember to calculate a new average each time you get a load of hay.

Horses should consume at least 1.5% to 2% of body weight per day in forage.

Estimate how much energy the forage portion of your horse’s diet is providing.

Energy levels can be noted as kcal (kilocalories) per pound or Mcal (megacalories) per pound.

The terms kcal and calorie are often used interchangeably. 1 Mcal = 1,000 kcal.

How to estimate the calories your forage is contributing.

kcal per lb in your forage X amount of forage you are feeding = calories from forage

Average digestible energy content of common forages and pasture*

Legume – 1,193 kcal/ lb

Mixed hay (mostly legume) – 1,060 kcal/lb

Mixed hay (mostly grass) – 935 kcal/lb

Grass hay – 909 kcal/lb

Bermuda grass hay – 944 kcal/lb

Alfalfa cubes/pellets – 1,086 kcal/lb

Lush pasture (mostly grass; some legume) – 1,172 kcal/lb

Lush pasture (grass) – 1,028 kcal/lb

*Source of digestible energy averages: Equi-Analytical Laboratories, Ithaca, New York 14850


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1 Comment

  • Connie

    Thank you for this article. It put everything I was looking for in one place.

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