Thursday 25th of November 2021
Horse Nutrition

Forage feeding and analysis

During the winter months grass growth slows considerably leading your horse to intake less fibre than during the summer months writes Sarah Kearney. 




Although lowered grass intake may be ideal for owners of horses with metabolic problems, as a rule all horses still require at least 2% of their bodyweight per day in forage (grass, hay and haylage) to maintain optimum gut health and mobility.

When grass intake is lower we need to provide this additional forage by increasing the amount of supplementary hay or haylage available. If you have a horse who is a ‘good doer’ or prone to laminitis this can be a little worrying, with nutritional values varying between harvests and batches, therefore it can be beneficial to routinely analyse a representative sample of your forage to achieve a balanced diet.




Concept Laboratory Services, based at Dodson & Horrell, offer a range of forage analysis packages to suit your budget and needs. The ‘General’ service is the most commonly requested, using near-infrared spectroscopy (NIR) they can give results for; dry matter, crude protein, ash, sugar, neutral detergent fibre (NDF), digestible energy and pH (for haylage only).

The mineral status of a forage usually reflects the mineral status of the soil it is grown from. If your horse has a health problem that your vet may be concerned is caused by a mineral deficiency or excess it can be beneficial to look at your forage. Concept Laboratory Services offer a basic mineral analysis giving results for; calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and zinc, whilst a comprehensive mineral analysis also gives basic mineral results plus; cobalt, iodine, molybdenum, selenium and sulphur.

It is well known that poor hygiene status of bedding and forage can adversely affect the health of the horse’s respiratory system, however if you are concerned by the quality of your forage hygiene analysis may help. A hygiene analysis tests for moulds, yeasts and thermophilic actinomycetes which present in high numbers can affect both horse and human health.


If you would like any further information on Dodson & Horrell’s forage analysis service please call the Nutritional Helpline on 0845 345 2627.

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