Forage Options for Finicky Eaters

Forage Options for Finicky Eaters

Hay cubes can be used as an alternative forage source.

Photo: The Horse Staff

Q. I have a healthy 21-year-old retired gelding who will not eat any type of hay in his stall at night. He is out all day in a pasture and loves the fresh grasses outside. He has a good appetite and will eat all of his grain at night. He has regular dental checkups performed by a veterinary dental specialist. I have concerns about him standing in his stall all night without chewing and developing ulcers as a result. What are my options as far as forage in the stall at night?

Nancy Kempe, Texas

A. You do have reason to be concerned about your gelding’s eating habits in his stall at night. The horse’s digestive system is built to digest small, frequent meals. The saliva produced during chewing helps buffer the acids in the stomach, and ulcers can form when that doesn’t happen.

The good news is you have a couple of different options. The easiest option would be to leave him out at night and let him graze on pasture. If that is not possible, I would recommend trying a better-quality hay or an alternative forage source such as hay cubes or pellets. You can feed the cubes and pellets in similar quantities as you would with hay.

About the Author

Kristen M. Janicki, MS, PAS

Kristen M. Janicki, a lifelong horsewoman, was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Sciences from the attend the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and later attended graduate school at the University of Kentucky, studying under Dr. Laurie Lawrence in the area of Equine Nutrition. Kristen began her current position as a performance horse nutritionist for Mars Horsecare, US, Inc., and Buckeye Nutrition, in 2010. Her job entails evaluating and improving the performance of the sport horse through proper nutrition.

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