Research Update on Equine Nutrition: Feeding Order and Rates of Intake

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Credit: Thinkstock While type of grain, feeding time, and adaptation to a feeding program all influence rate of intake, feeding hay before a grain concentrate will slow the rate of concentrate intake.

Credit: Thinkstock While type of grain, feeding time, and adaptation to a feeding program all influence rate of intake, feeding hay before a grain concentrate will slow the rate of concentrate intake.

It is thought that feeding hay before a concentrate meal will slow the rate of grain intake. Researchers at Purina Animal Nutrition recently examined this theory, along with how the time of day and adaptation to diet affect rates of hay and grain intake.

Ten quarter horse geldings (average of 12 years and 1,275 pounds) were assigned to one of five treatments in a randomized, crossover design including hay (hay only), hay-pellet (hay fed 20 minutes before pelleted feed), hay-textured (hay fed 20 minutes before textured feed), pellet-hay (pelleted feed and hay fed at the same time), or textured‐hay (textured feed and hay fed at same time). Grain concentrates were fed at 4 pounds per feeding and hay at 0.5% of bodyweight per feeding. Feed intake was recorded using a scale system that recorded weight every five seconds. Data was recorded for 45 minutes per meal.

The hay‐pellet treatment had the slowest rate of grain intake, followed by hay‐textured. Both treatments slowed the rate of intake compared to the treatments involving hay and grain fed simultaneously. Time of day (morning or evening feeding) did not impact rate of grain intake, but rate of hay intake was faster in the morning than in the evening. The hay-only treatment demonstrated a faster intake on day 5 versus day 1, and for hay‐textured, the rate of hay intake was slower on day 5 than on day 1. Horses on the hay‐textured feed treatment had the slowest rate of hay intake.

In conclusion, while type of grain, feeding time, and adaptation to a feeding program all influence rate of intake, feeding hay before a grain concentrate will slow the rate of concentrate intake. For more information on this research, click here.

This summary was written by Devan Catalano of the University of Minnesota. You can sign up for the university's horse newsletter online.