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What Makes Some Forage Better Than Others?

Girl hugging horse in cold

Not all forage is created equal because forage isn’t created at all. There’s no forage factory, no chemical formula that can be replicated in a lab. Instead, the conditions in which forage is grown and harvested determine most of its characteristics. This means that forage can differ drastically in its nutritional value depending on the physical location of where the plant was grown, the plant’s species and stage of maturity.

Anyone who says location doesn’t matter never had to sit near the bathrooms on an airplane. Forage that’s grown in nutrient-strained soil or exposed to excessive amounts of moisture shows it in its final product. This is why Idaho’s volcanic soil and dry climate make it perfect for growing high-quality forage. Our desert climate means we can control how much water our forage receives through irrigation. These factors allow us to grow some of the highest quality forage in the entire world.

The realization that some forage contains less nutritional value than others has led some horse owners to the solution that, “if it’s half as nutritional, I’ll just feed twice as much.” Your horse should be getting at least 1% of their body weight in dry forage per day. However, most equine nutritionists suggest your horse consumes 1.5% to 2% of their body weight in dry forage per day. Not only will feeding twice as much lower quality forage not equal out to feeding your horse high quality forage, your 1,000 pound horse will probably refuse to eat 40 pounds of low quality forage anyways. However, Premium quality forage can be added to lower quality forage to improve its overall nutritional value.

Some modern equine dieting practices incorporate increased grain base consumption. Horses have spent over a hundred-thousand years living off small amounts of roughage. These new grain-based diets have left their bodies struggling to adapt and potentially contributed to a host of complications. To ensure optimal health, horses must be given access to a high quality fiber-based diet. Forage contains all of the essential nutrients required: water, energy, protein, vitamins and minerals. Grain concentrates and supplements should only be fed to compliment forage. When feeding high quality forage, most horses will only require a low intake vitamin and mineral pellet (ration balancer pellet). As horses increase their workload or physiological demands (e.g. pregnancy or lactation) additional concentrate may be required.

For all your horse has done for you this year, give them the gift of Premium Western Forage. After all, you’ve expected the best from them, why not give them the best during this Holiday season. And to help your horse stay happy and healthy, Standlee’s started a brand new blog with incredibly helpful tips, tricks and useful information for horse owners. See for yourself by clicking the button below!

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