A Guide to Forage and Concentrate Feed Ratios for Horses Based Upon Workload

When it comes to feeding your horse, it’s important that you get the ratio of forage to concentrate feed just right.

This ratio will depend upon your horse and their individual workload, so we’re going to give you a quick outline of the recommended ratios to maintain a balanced diet for your horse.

Calculate bodyweight

The first thing you’ll need to do is to calculate the horse’s bodyweight. This is because they should roughly be consuming 2.5% of their body weight in feed per day.

(This is dependent on condition and workload, and horses which are more overweight will require less.)

This can be done using a weigh tape or by using the following formula:

Heart girth (cm²) x Body length (cm)/11877

To calculate the heart girth, you should place a measuring tape at the base of the horse’s withers and wrap it around to just behind their elbows.

As for the length, this should be measured from the point of shoulder to point of buttock.

Calculate daily amount of feed needed

Once you know the horse’s bodyweight you can start to figure out the amount of total feed they’re going to need each day.

Bearing in mind that the average horse will consume about 2.5% of their bodyweight in a day, you should use the formula below:

Horse weight x 2.5% = Total amount of feed required (kg)

For example, a horse weighing 700kg would require 17.5kg of feed a day because:

700 x 2.5% = 17.5

Calculate ratio

Finally, now that you know the total amount of feed that the horse will require for the day, you can start to work out what percentage of it should be forage, and how much should be concentrate feed, bearing in mind the horse’s workload and condition.

You can see the recommended ratios as a guideline below, but just like humans, horses are individuals, so use your own discretion.

Forage to Concentrate Ratio

Resting – 100% Forage – 0% Concentrate

Light Work – 75% Forage – 25% Concentrate

Medium Work – 60% Forage – 40% Concentrate

Hard Work – 40% Forage – 60% Concentrate

Fast Work – 30% Forage – 70% Concentrate

So, using the example from before, we know that a 700kg horse would require 17.5kg of feed a day.

So, if this horse was in light work they would require about 75% forage and 25% concentrate.

To work this out you would do:

17.5 x 80% = 13.1kg


17.5 x 25% = 4.4kg of forage


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