Horses need a certain amount of protein in their diet, which can often be met with good-quality grass hay. Young horses, show horses or horses in an area where the grass hay is of a poor quality often need a form of digestible protein added to their feed to supplement their protein intake. Aside from mares that are nursing young foals, the amount of digestible protein needed daily is about 1 pound. Soybean meal, which has 42 to 50 percent protein, is a preferred protein supplement for horses and, in addition to providing essential protein, adds a nice shine to the horse’s coat.
Things You'll Need
- Soybean meal
- Measure scoop
- Knowledge of the protein content of your grass hay
Determine which class your horse fits into: mature, pregnant, nursing, weanling, yearling, 2-year-old, or mature horse in light work, moderate work or intense work.
Consider the requirements for all nutrients in your horse’s diet, including protein, nutrients that produce energy, minerals and vitamins. Adequate amounts of minerals can usually be supplemented by giving your horse a trace mineral salt lick.
The most important components of the diet include foods that give the horse energy and those that contain protein, calcium, phosphorus and vitamins. A good-quality grass hay usually helps generate enough energy and also meets the protein requirements.
Make a list of the requirements for your horse, his age and level of work.
For most mature horses, including those doing light to intense work, make sure that 8 percent of their total diet is crude protein.
A pregnant mare should have 10 percent of her diet in crude protein, while a nursing mare should have 12.5 percent protein in her diet. Weanlings need 14.5 percent crude protein, yearlings need 12 percent and 2-year-olds need 9 percent crude protein.
Make a list of the types of grains, hays and protein supplements available in your area. Use the digestible energy composition of the hays to determine how much hay and how much grain to feed.
Digestible energy is a term frequently used when talking about horse diets and symbolizes the gross energy of the feed minus the energy not digested by the horse, or the energy lost through feces. In simple terms, digestible energy is the energy that's available to the horse for maintenance and production after eating the feed.
Then, determine the amount of nutrients present in the hay and how it compares to the total amount of nutrients required for the age and class of your horse.
You can add the remaining nutrient requirements to the diet from a combination of grain and supplemented protein such as soybean meal.
Add a quantity of soybean meal to the diet that will provide the remaining necessities that the horse needs in his diet, including crude protein, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin A, and food that yields digestible energy, advises uky.edu/Ag/AnimalSciences.
Soybean meal typically yields 1.5 mega calories of digestible energy; .30 percent calcium; .63 percent phosphorus and no vitamin A. Soybean meal usually has between 42 to 50 percent of crude protein.
Measure the amount of soybean meal you have calculated into the horse’s ration on a daily basis. It’s acceptable to add the soybean meal on top of the grain when feeding.