Roughage is considered to be the most important element of a horse’s diet. Horses should ideally receive 1,5% of their bodyweight in feed, with grasses and hay making up the majority of the ration. For these reasons, it’s important to know the weight of each horse when calculating quantities.
Always be prepared and stock additional hay in case there’s a supply shortage or delay in delivery. Keep in mind that as winter approaches you will likely need to supply additional hay per horse as their natural grazing in the paddock becomes sparse.
To keep a record of your grass, it’s recommended to have a spreadsheet or folder system that records your order, delivery dates and accompanying payments for your grass. This facilitates easy bookkeeping, allowing you to plan ahead for your next order and the approximate costs involved.
Concentrates can easily become muddled when feeding different brands or types at one yard, and there can be discrepancies in the amount of feed your horse is actually receiving per meal. One approach to organising your concentrates is to decant your feed bags into large feed-appropriate containers or drums, with a clear label on the drum identifying the feed, with an accompanying colour-coding system.
It’s not always practical to weigh every feed serving, so an alternative is to use 0.5kg and 1kg scoops and label them ‘small’ and ‘large’ respectively. These scoops should be solely assigned to one specific type of feed because different weights may be made up of different ingredients and nutrients. Knowing the exact quantities each horse is consuming not only helps to monitor their health, but is also useful in planning when to place your next feed order, eliminating spoilt food or avoiding shortages.
The simplest way to know which concentrates and supplements each horse requires is to draw up a simple feeding chart in the feed room. Keep a smaller copy in the management’s office as well for easy referencing. A simple layout stating each horse and their daily quantities of food (and supplements, if any) can be useful. This is where the colour-coding system comes in handy.
Supplements are usually accompanied by a scoop. The scoop will indicate the quantity, and then you can feed according to how many scoops the horse will need and insert it on the feed schedule as indicated below. Always label the supplement tub with the horse’s name to avoid confusion of which horse receives which supplement, especially if you have two or more different brands of similar products, such as joint supplements.
Example of a feed schedule:
|Scooby||Large||Small||Large||1 x joint supplement|
|Boston||Large||Large||1 x brewer’s yeast, 1 x MSM|
|Harry||Large||Large||Large||1 x Biotin|
It’s easy to fall behind on non-routine services such as dentistry services, chiropractic services, physiotherapy and saddle-fitting sessions. Creating a spreadsheet of each service provider with the last visit and when the next session is due is a helpful way to stay up to date. Mark this on your calendar and set reminders to schedule appointments in time. Keep an open line of communication with the relevant service provider as to when they think the horse should be seen again. By following this method, you will be able to monitor and keep up to date with the services your horse needs. It is also more practical to group horses together for services to avoid multiple trips for the service provider. Once the horses have received their respective services or treatments, update the schedule’s ‘last done’ and ‘next due’ dates.
Example of a service provider schedule:
|Service Provider||(Name of service provider)||(Name of service provider)||(Name of service provider)||(Name of service provider)|
|(Service provider’s contact number)||(Service provider’s contact number)||(Service provider’s contact number)||(Service provider’s contact number)|
|Scooby||Last done||14 August 2015||2 October 2015||30 October 2015||10 November 2015|
|Next due||14 February 2016||2 April 2016||30 January 2016||10 February 2016|
|Magic||Last done||14 August 2015||2 October 2015||30 October 2015||(Currently not in work)|
|Next due||14 February 2016||2 April 2016||30 January 2016|
There are many ways to organise and run a yard, so choose a method that is easiest and most convenient for you. Consistency is key to staying on top of things. Once you’re into a routine and working schedule, life should become a little easier, and you can spend less time in the office and more time with your horse!
Text: Hayley Kruger