Document Type


Publication Date



horse ownership, feeds, winter

Extension Number

ExEx 2073


Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering


On average, a mature horse will need to consume between 1.5 and 2% of dry feed based on their total body weight each day. For a 1,200-pound horse, this means that they would be eating roughly 24 pounds (1,200 pounds x .02) of dry feed daily. Let’s assume that properly handled hays and grains are 90% dry material; this means that 10% is in the form of water, rather than dry nutrients. We would need to add 10% to the total amount fed to our horse, meaning the average 1,200-pound horse will eat approximately 26–27 pounds of feed each day. The majority of this feed should be high-quality grass hay or alfalfa/grass mix. High-quality hay should typically be green in color, contain many of leaves, and should not smell musty. However, these characteristics are simply guidelines. To accurately assess the quality of your hay, the hay must be analyzed in a laboratory. Contact your local county Extension office for assistance submitting a hay sample for analysis.


February 2011.