Watch: Is feeding cafeteria-style a better choice for your horse?

One pile of hay in the corner and a bucket of hard feed twice a day. Sound familiar? Reinventing your feeding regime so that your horse has more choice about where and what he eats could pay dividends.

In the video below, we’ve summarised advice from independent equine nutritionist Nikki Meggison to explain why buffet-style feeding is so beneficial.

A cafeteria-style diet means providing a selection of forage feeds for your horse to pick at, giving him some control over what he eats and when.

  • It works whether your horse is in the stable or field. If he’s in the field and part of a herd, all horses need to be on the same system. Make sure the food suits everyone; ensure there’s enough to go around and each pile is well spread out

  • It will enrich your horse’s surroundings by encouraging natural foraging — particularly for those stabled for long periods of time

  • It satisfies a horse’s natural instinct to roam for his food and move around while he eats. It’s what he’s designed to do!

  • Adding succulents — such as a vegetable kebab or carrots in a bucket — adds hydration to his diet because they have a high water content

  • Adapt how much food you offer depending on your horse’s weight, workload and age. For example, good doers will need smaller portions — don’t over feed. You’ll need to include his grass intake too

  • A snack ball with high-fibre nuts will keep him eating for longer too

Find out how switching to a cafeteria diet helped one reader’s poor doer eat more fibre, hold more condition and recover from gastric ulcers here.

Read the full article on cafeteria feeding in issue 444 of Your Horse magazine.