Welcome to the Trickle Net Forage Feeding calculator
Fill in the boxes below to calculate how much forage your horse requires and find out if you could save money.
You can also access a wealth of information about laminitis prevention, weight management and nutrition here
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*This calculator should be used as a guide only. It is important to consider every horse on an individual basis. There are many more variables that dictate dietary requirements.
This calculator works for a 100% forage diet (hay or haylage and grass). Any further food (bucket feeds) should be factored into the daily nutritional requirements. If you are at all concerned, we strongly advise you seek the guidance of an independent Equine Nutritionist who can advise based on your horse's specific requirements.
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The importance of considering dry matter intake (DMI) on pasture
Estimating dry matter intake (DMI) on pasture is important, but also very difficult because the amount a horse
or pony will consume will vary between individuals, as well as between pastures.
Some factors which may cause variation in DMI between horses on the same pasture include:
Breed: A Welsh section A is capable of 5.4% of bodyweight (BW) DM, whereas a TB will eat closer to
2.6% on the same pasture. 5.4% BW DMI will cause rapid weight gain, which is why alternative grazing
systems are essential for native breeds.
Health: Dental problems or health issues which can affect appetite may reduce intake
Energy requirements: A horse or pony in hard work will increase the amount of DM he or she eats.
However, an inactive horse or pony will not reduce the amount they are eating to prevent weight
Hours with access to grazing: A horse or pony will change their grazing pattern, and the amount of
grass they eat depending on how long they typically spend at pasture. For example, a pony is capable
of eating 1% BW DM (so 50% of his daily requirement) in just 3 hours if he is restricted to 3 hours of
pasture access per day. This is because he will prioritise all this time for eating, instead of resting or
Some factors which might change how much a horse can eat while grazing include:
Pasture quality: Lush grass can be eaten far more quickly than short grass or old stemmy grass
Pasture type: A mixed species of grasses may encourage a horse to forage around for the more
palatable species, slowing down intake
Individual or group turnout: Group turnout will encourage move movement and socialisation. A
higher stocking rate (more horses on one field) will also help to reduce the amount of grass available
for each horse to eat.
Grazing management system: The use of tracks and other alternative grazing systems will encourage
movement and foraging behaviours, while discouraging binge eating.
Our calculator aims to give you an approximation of DMI from pasture, based upon the current research available. It is key to have some understanding of grass DMI when considering a weight management plan for your horse. The calculation here is based on horses grazing three types of pasture with data averaged from the following research:
Poor- 1.32-1.62 % BW/DM/day (Harrison, R, and Murray, J.M.D.,2016) Average -
2.2% BW/DM/day (NRC,2007)(widely accepted) Lush: 3.2-5.4% BW/DM/day (Smith, DG, Cuddeford, D, Mayes, R and Hollands T).
This calculator does not
factor in the increased rate of grass consumption caused by limited turnout time.
Owners need to be aware that native types are capable of eating over 200% of their daily requirements with free access to good grazing, resulting in considerable weight gain. It is also important to appreciate that simply reducing the hours they have access to the good grazing may not reduce the DMI sufficiently, as the horse or pony will simply spend more of the time spent at pasture eating.
Where significant weight loss is required we recommend a consultation with an Equine Nutritionist. They will be able to advise how best to modify your grazing system alongside forage feeding to facilitate weight loss, while ensuring your horse or pony does not spend hours without access to food, which could increase the risk of other issues such as gastric ulcers and stereotypic behaviours.
Restricted diets at 1.5% BW should always be considered temporary, and a management
strategy should be used to prevent long periods of hunger and boredom. Please seek advice if
you need some support with this. We can help.
Always consult your vet if you are concerned for your horse's health.
Please note that the results displayed by this tool may not be 100% accurate, correct and/or complete and that they are intended solely for general information and education purposes. This tool should NOT be considered as a substitute for any professional nutritional service or advice. You should speak to a Vet or Nutritionist for appropriate and specific information about any health and nutritional questions you have regarding your horse.
This calculator should be used as a guide only. It is important to consider every horse on an individual basis. There are many variables that dictate dietary requirements and this calculator does not tailor results to individual horses..
The calculation works to a diet of 100% forage and does not factor in any bucket feeds.
Trickle Net Equine Innovations Ltd is in no way liable for any actions which might be taken by users of this calculator.