Are you curious about how to select the right horse feed? Buckeye Nutrition has created a video that provides all the information you need. The video covers the journey of horse feed through the digestive system, from the stomach to the hindgut. It emphasizes the importance of ingredient quality and feeding rate in determining the cost and performance of the horse. By comparing the cost and feeding rate of different feeds, you can make an informed decision and choose the best option for your horse’s needs. Buckeye Nutrition’s video is a valuable resource for anyone seeking guidance on selecting the right horse feed.

In the video, Buckeye Nutrition explains that the horse’s stomach is where the feed stops after being chewed, then moves on to the small intestine where the majority of the horse’s work with grain and concentrate takes place. The hindgut, similar to a cow’s digestive tract, breaks down forage and produces volatile fatty acids. The video also highlights the essential information that should be included on a feed bag, such as the product name, guarantee analysis, feeding directions, and ingredients. By understanding these factors, you can ensure that the horse feed you select is beneficial and enables your horse to perform at its best. Buckeye Nutrition’s video provides valuable insights for anyone looking to make the right choice when it comes to horse feed.

Table of Contents

Understanding the Equine Digestive System

The horse’s stomach and its function

The horse’s stomach is the first place that the feed stops after being chewed. It is responsible for the initial chemical digestion of the feed. Hydrochloric acid in the stomach breaks down the feed, preparing it for further digestion in the small intestine. The stomach empties when it is about two-thirds full, regardless of whether or not the feed is completely digested. This is the first part of the digestive process.

The role of the small intestine

The small intestine is about 70 feet in length in horses, which is proportionally large compared to their overall GI tract, which measures around 100 feet from the esophagus to the anus. The small intestine does the majority of the horse’s work with grain and concentrate feeds. It is responsible for further breaking down and absorbing nutrients from the feed. This is where the majority of nutrient absorption takes place, providing the horse with the energy it needs.

Understanding the function of the hindgut

The hindgut of a horse, specifically the cecum and the large colon, is similar to the digestive tract of a cow. It is responsible for digesting forage and producing volatile fatty acids, which are essential sources of energy for the horse. The cecum is considered the equine version of the rumen and contains a population of beneficial bacteria that help break down the fiber present in forage. Without these microbes, the horse would not be able to effectively utilize the nutrients from forage. The hindgut plays a crucial role in the horse’s overall digestive process.

The Importance of Reading Feed Bags

Recognizing essential information on the feed bag

Reading and understanding the information on the feed bag is crucial for ensuring that the horse is getting the appropriate nutrition. The feed bag should contain important information such as the product name, guarantee analysis, feeding directions, and ingredients. It is essential to know this information to make informed decisions about the horse’s diet.

Understanding the guarantee analysis

The guarantee analysis provides information about the nutritional content of the horse feed. It includes minimum and maximum amounts of crude protein, crude fat, crude fiber, calcium, phosphorus, as well as other minerals and vitamins. This information can help horse owners determine if the feed meets their horse’s nutritional requirements.

The role of the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO)

The AAFCO sets standards for animal feed labeling and ensures that pet food and livestock feed manufacturers provide accurate and useful information on their products. They require specific information to be included on the feed bag, such as the brand name, purpose statement, guaranteed analysis, ingredients, feeding directions, and warning labels. By adhering to these standards, manufacturers can provide consumers with reliable information to make informed decisions about their horse’s diet.

Understanding Lease Costs Versus Fixed Formulas

Comparing lease cost formulas and fixed formulas

Lease cost formulas and fixed formulas determine how the ingredients in horse feed are priced and adjusted. Lease cost formulas allow for flexibility in changing ingredients to maintain a constant price. This means that when the cost of a particular ingredient increases, the manufacturer can substitute it with a more affordable alternative. On the other hand, fixed formulas use the same ingredients in the same amounts every time, regardless of fluctuating ingredient prices.

Why ingredient consistency matters

Ingredient consistency is crucial in horse feed because it affects the nutritional content and quality of the feed. If the ingredients in a feed are not consistent, it can lead to variations in nutrient levels, potentially impacting the horse’s health and performance. By using consistent ingredients, manufacturers can ensure that the horse receives the necessary nutrients in every batch of feed.

Potential cost implications

The choice between lease cost formulas and fixed formulas can have cost implications. Lease cost formulas allow manufacturers to adjust their formulas based on ingredient costs, which may result in more stable pricing for consumers. However, lease cost formulas may also lead to variations in the ingredients used, which could impact the nutritional value of the feed. Fixed formulas offer consistency in ingredients, but they may not be as flexible in responding to fluctuating ingredient prices.

Determining Quality of Ingredients in Horse Feed

Why ingredient quality matters

The quality of ingredients in horse feed can greatly impact the health and performance of the horse. High-quality ingredients provide essential nutrients and are more easily digestible, allowing the horse to derive maximum nutritional benefit. On the other hand, poor-quality ingredients may be less digestible or contain contaminants that can be harmful to the horse’s health.

How to identify high-quality ingredients in horse feed

When evaluating the quality of ingredients in horse feed, it is important to consider factors such as the source of the ingredients, their freshness, and their nutritional value. High-quality ingredients should come from reputable sources, be fresh, and provide a balance of essential nutrients. Reading the ingredient list and researching the reputation of the feed manufacturer can help determine the quality of ingredients used.

The potential impact of poor-quality ingredients

Using poor-quality ingredients in horse feed can have negative consequences. Inadequate nutrition can lead to deficiencies or imbalances in the horse’s diet, affecting its overall health and performance. Poor-quality ingredients may also be less digestible, resulting in lower nutrient absorption and potentially leading to digestive issues. It is important to prioritize high-quality ingredients to ensure the horse’s well-being.

Considering the Feeding Rate

Understanding why feeding rate matters

The feeding rate refers to the amount of feed given to a horse in a specific period. It is crucial to consider the feeding rate because it directly affects the horse’s nutrition and overall health. Feeding too little can result in nutrient deficiencies, while overfeeding can contribute to obesity and related health issues.

How to determine an optimal feeding rate

The optimal feeding rate depends on factors such as the horse’s weight, age, activity level, and health condition. Consulting with a veterinarian or equine nutritionist can help determine the appropriate feeding rate for an individual horse. It is important to consider the horse’s energy requirements, nutrient needs, and any specific dietary restrictions or considerations.

Considerations for adjusting feeding rate

The feeding rate may need to be adjusted based on changes in the horse’s weight, activity level, or health status. It is essential to monitor the horse’s body condition and adjust the feeding rate accordingly. For example, if a horse is losing weight or not meeting its performance goals, increasing the feeding rate may be necessary. On the other hand, if a horse is gaining weight or becoming overweight, reducing the feeding rate can help manage its body condition.

Working with Different Types of Feed

Common types of horse feed

There are various types of horse feed available on the market, including hay, pasture grass, haylage, complete feeds, sweet feeds, and pelleted feeds. Hay and pasture grass provide essential fiber and nutrients, while complete feeds offer a balanced diet in a concentrated form. Sweet feeds and pelleted feeds are processed forms of horse feed that provide a combination of nutrients and are convenient to feed.

Understanding the nutritional value of different types of feed

Different types of feed offer varying nutritional benefits. Hay and pasture grass are rich in fiber and provide essential vitamins and minerals. Complete feeds are specifically formulated to provide a balanced diet and may contain a combination of forage, concentrate, and supplements. Sweet feeds and pelleted feeds provide a mix of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats in different forms. It is important to understand the nutritional value of each feed type to ensure the horse’s dietary needs are met.

Feeding needs for different life stages and activity levels

Horses have different feeding needs based on their life stage and activity level. For example, growing foals and young horses have higher energy and nutrient requirements to support their development. Pregnant or lactating mares also have increased nutritional needs. Sport horses or horses engaged in strenuous activities may require additional calories and specific nutrients. It is important to choose the appropriate feed and adjust the feeding rate based on these factors to support the horse’s health and performance.

Selecting Horse Feed by Buckeye Nutrition

Why choose Buckeye Nutrition

Buckeye Nutrition is a reputable feed manufacturer with a focus on quality and nutrition. They offer a range of feeds specifically formulated to meet the nutritional needs of horses at different life stages and activity levels. By choosing Buckeye Nutrition, horse owners can have confidence in the quality and consistency of the feed they are providing to their horses.

Understanding Buckeye Nutrition’s quality control

Buckeye Nutrition places a strong emphasis on quality control throughout their manufacturing process. They source high-quality ingredients and use rigorous testing and analysis to ensure the nutritional content and safety of their feeds. By prioritizing quality control, Buckeye Nutrition ensures that horse owners are feeding their horses a reliable and consistent product.

Products available from Buckeye Nutrition

Buckeye Nutrition offers a variety of horse feeds to meet different nutritional needs. Their product range includes feeds for growth and development, performance, maintenance, and specialized formulas for specific health conditions. They also offer options for different types of horses, such as senior feeds for older horses and feeds for easy keepers. Horse owners can choose from a range of feeds to best meet the needs of their individual horses.

Comparing Costs and Benefits of Various Feeds

How to accurately compare costs of different feeds

Comparing the costs of different horse feeds involves considering the price per pound or kilogram, as well as the feeding rate. It is important to calculate the cost of feeding per day or per month to accurately compare the costs of various feeds. Additionally, considering the nutritional content and quality of the feed is crucial to ensure that the chosen feed provides the necessary nutrients for the horse.

Potential monetary and health benefits of high-quality feed

Investing in high-quality feed can have both monetary and health benefits. High-quality feed often contains optimal levels of essential nutrients, reducing the risk of nutrient deficiencies or imbalances. This can lead to improved overall health, performance, and longevity of the horse. Additionally, high-quality feed may offer better digestibility, reducing the amount of feed needed and potentially saving money in the long run.

Considering hidden cost factors like vet bills or wasted feed

When evaluating the costs of different feeds, it is important to consider hidden cost factors such as vet bills or wasted feed. Poor-quality feed or inadequate nutrition can lead to health issues that require veterinary intervention, resulting in additional expenses. Additionally, if a feed is not palatable or does not meet the horse’s nutritional needs, it may be wasted or lead to decreased feed efficiency, impacting the overall cost-effectiveness.

The Importance of Transitioning Feed Gradually

Why rapid feed changes can be harmful

Rapid feed changes can be harmful to a horse’s digestive system. Horses have sensitive digestive systems that rely on a stable microbial population to effectively break down and process feed. Abrupt changes in the feed can disrupt this balance, leading to digestive upset, colic, or other health issues. Gradually transitioning the horse to a new feed allows the digestive system to adapt slowly.

Steps for safely transitioning your horse to a new feed

To safely transition a horse to a new feed, it is recommended to introduce the new feed gradually over a period of 7-10 days. Start by replacing a small portion of the old feed with the new feed, gradually increasing the new feed’s proportion every few days. This allows the horse’s digestive system to gradually adjust to the new feed, minimizing the risk of digestive upset.

Potential signs of trouble during feed transition

During a feed transition, it is important to monitor the horse for any signs of trouble. Signs of digestive upset or discomfort may include changes in appetite, loose stools, colic symptoms, or behavioral changes. If any of these signs occur, it may be necessary to slow down the transition process or consult with a veterinarian for further guidance.


The selection of the right horse feed is essential for providing optimal nutrition, supporting the horse’s health and performance. Understanding the horse’s digestive system, reading feed bags, considering cost and ingredient quality, determining the feeding rate, and transitioning feed gradually are all crucial factors to consider. By making informed decisions about horse feed, integrating cost, quality, and health, and developing a reliable feeding routine, horse owners can ensure that their horses receive the nutrition they need for success and overall well-being. By choosing Buckeye Nutrition’s high-quality feeds, horse owners can have confidence in the products they are providing to their beloved equines.