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Tips for feeding during a hay shortage | #ThoroughCareMonth

The current drought conditions in South Australia are causing concern to horse owners, especially as hay supplies dry up.

Horses should be fed a minimum of 1% (preferably 1.5%) of their bodyweight in forage each day. For a 500kg horse that equates to 5-7.5kg. This is important to prevent health problems such as colic, gastric ulcers and behavioural problems.

Here are some tips on how you can ensure your horse stays healthy and some alternatives to hay feeding.

  • Weigh out the hay each day rather than providing free access to a hay bale. Ad lib feeding is wasteful, and horses tend to over-eat.
  • Use slow feeder nets to maximise time spent chewing.
  • Hay alternatives include hay cubes / pellets, high quality silage, haylage or even pea straw. It is important to avoid feeding dusty or mouldy forage.
  • Bulk out diets with other sources of fibre including chaff, beet pulp and soy hulls.
  • It is also possible to feed a commercial complete diet. Most feed manufacturers have on site nutritionists who are happy to help you determine the best option for your horse.
  • Split hard feeds over several meals a day. Limit meal sizes to below 0.5% bodyweight.
  • Avoid feeding excessive high-starch concentrates for energy and weight gain. If needed, energy supplies can be increased by supplementing with fats such as vegetable oil.
  • If your horse is overweight or has been diagnosed with endocrinopathic laminitis (due to PPID – Equine Cushing’s and/or Equine Metabolic Syndrome) – please consult a veterinarian prior to choosing the best alternative to hay.


When making any changes to your horse’s diet, it is important that this is done slowly, over at least 7-10 days, to prevent problems. It is also essential to always provide an adequate source of clean water.

If you suspect your horse has gastric ulcers, colic, any other medical concern, or you would like nutritional recommendations for your horse, you can make an appointment with our team.

Thanks to Roseworthy Veterinary Hospital for providing these helpful tips during a difficult time!

Contact The Roseworthy Veterinary Hospital for your horses healthcare needs!

*20% Discount for Thoroughcare SA Assistance Pack holders on selected services*

 24/7 Emergencies

 8313 1999

 1454 Mudla Wirra Road, Roseworthy 5371

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