Scientific Farm Animal Production

Biology

Quiz 33 :

Feeding and Managing Horses

Quiz 33 :

Feeding and Managing Horses

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Describe differences in vaccination rates for various diseases.
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Discuss the appropriate mix of concentrates and forages in the equine diet for various ages/stages.
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Unlike ruminants, the time spent by horses in chewing is less. Their teeth can grind the grains fed to them. The solid food given to an equine is classified into three types- Forage which comprises of hay and grass, Concentrates which consists of grains or pelleted ration and supplements comprising of vitamins and minerals that are prepared.
Whole grains which are neither forage and nor supplements are called concentrates. And concentrates should be given only if forage is deficient in certain nutrients and the needs of the horse are not being met. A horse owner should be aware of his horse's nutritional demands for the job the horse does for him. Though the market offers readymade feeds, the horse owner can create ration on his own. He can mix various concentrates by balancing the proteins, vitamins and minerals. However, it is advisable to use formulated ration created by expert professionals.
The table below shows the quantity of feed that should be given according to the horse type.
img These values can be altered according to the forage quality, horse size and its activity. As a thumb rule, the horses which do heavy work, more concentrates should be fed. Concentrates can be sweet to produce the required number of calories.
The table below shows the percentage of concentrates and forages that should be fed at various stages for various types of horses.
img We can draw a conclusion from the above table that, the percentage of concentrates is always less as compared to the forage percentage. This balance of concentrates is important for a proper functioning of the digestive system of the horse.

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List the primary forage quality characteristics.
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The feed of horses is classified into 3 types - concentrates, forage and supplements. There are feed companies which provide readymade feed for all horse farm operations. But an owner who has just one or two horses will prefer to buy formulated feed. This practice will prevent errors in nutrition and also save time.
Feed selection for a formulated ration is a challenging task. The quality characteristics of each ingredient should be studied carefully. To quote an example, in the selection of forage (hay) the following factors have to be considered which affect its quality to a great extent.
Plant type composition : There is a great difference in the quality of forage of a grass and that of a legume. Legumes have more protein content than grasses. The fiber of legumes is easily digested than that of grasses. Due to ease in digestion the horse tends to eat more legume crop.
Maturity : Quality of forage is greatly influenced by maturity. The quality of forage keeps changing at every stage of plant growth. For example, as the plant matures its contents of cell wall also increase. This leads to an accumulation of the indigestible lignin. In fact, quality of forage changes so rapidly that it is possible to measure the quality every day. So a feed manager should see the maturity state of forage before including it in the feed ration.
Harvest and storage : Incorrect practices of harvest also degrade the forage quality. Hay should be stored when it has the right amount of moisture in it. Inappropriate methods of ensiling also damage the quality of forage.
Environmental factors : Environmental factors like light, temperature and humidity also have an effect on the forage quality. Sometimes due to bad weather conditions the harvesting gets delayed. In such a situation, the quality of forage declines because it is over mature. Hence, it is important that a feed manager should not include such forage in the formulated diet of the animal.
Plant morphology or degree of leaf retention : The two most important parts of grasses and legumes are stem and leaf. Stems have fiber and leaves have less fiber. The main role of leaves is to capture the sunlight. The ratio of leaf to stem is also related to the quality of forage. Forage with more leaves should be preferred.
Soil fertility : The yield of forage is affected by soil fertility. Correct amounts of Phosphorus and Potassium in the soil help in protecting the leguminous crops and decrease the problems of weeds. However, soil does not affect the quality of forage.

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Discuss the impact of exercise on nutritional requirements.
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List the important records to be maintained by horse owners.
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Discuss disease incidence and mortality rates.
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Discuss regional differences in desired pastures for horses.
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Discuss reproductive management of the equine.
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Describe body condition scoring in horses.
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Describe the major diseases and disorders afflicting horses.
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Discuss facility requirements for horse enterprises.
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Describe management interventions that can help prevent colic.
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Describe demographics of the U.S. horse industry.
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