EEVS Monthly Newsletter




Nutrition Series Part 2
The Importance of Forage
By Dr. Amanda Wilson
Forages refer to grass, hay, and other non-processed plant-based food sources. Forages are the most important component in a horse's diet and should comprise the largest amount of the diet of most horses. There are a few exceptions that we will talk about in later installments of the nutrition series.

If given free choice, a horse will eat about 2.5% of its body weight daily in forage. For a 1,000 pound horse this is 25 pounds of hay or grass every day! Forage should be offered at a minimum of 1% of body weight, or 10 pounds per day for a 1000 pound horse.

Forage offers many benefits to horses. It slows down the rate of passage through the GI tract, making nutrients more available to horses. It encourages a horse to drink water. Continued access to forage gives horses something to do, preventing boredom and reducing behavioral problems such as cribbing and weaving. It also stimulates the production of saliva, which acts as a buffer to the acidic in environment in the stomach. This is why horses with limited access to forage are at a higher risk for stomach ulcers.

Evaluating Forage Quality
All forages are not created equal. Horses need quality forage to utilize it appropriately. Low-quality forages offer very little in the way of nutrients. Horses can utilize many different types of forages: grass, wheat, alfalfa, timothy hay, orchard grass, fescue, etc. The forage needs to be high quality in order for the horse to gain nutrients from it. Quality hay has a high leaf-to-stem ratio, and is free of mold and dust.

The best way to evaluate forage is to have it analyzed by a certified forage analysis lab. You can find these labs through your county extension office. The key with submitting samples is to get several different samples from different bales of hay or different parts of the pasture. A good resource for more information on forage analysis is

Ask the Vet!
Q: My horse drops grain, is this a problem?

A: Some horses, like some people, are just messy eaters, but it is important to rule out a problem. Your horse should have an in-depth physical, neurological and oral exam performed by a veterinarian. This should include sedation with a full mouth speculum and mirror and may also include radiographs and endoscopy. Dropping grain can be a manifestation of many dental issues including: sharp arcade points, fractured tooth, a retained cap (baby tooth), a tooth root abscess, a diastema (abnormal space between teeth), periodontal inflammation or disease, EOTRH (Equine Odontoclastic Tooth Resorption and Hypercementosis), a foreign body, other oral trauma, nerve damage, neurological disease, TMJ inflammation or arthritis. The most common reason for dropping grain is sharp arcade points. Horse's teeth constantly erupt throughout their lives. Due to this constant eruption and the nature of the way they grind food, horses develop sharp arcade points on the outside of their maxillary (upper) teeth and the inside of their mandibular (lower) teeth. These points need to be removed and this is typically done on an annual basis. Every horse should have an oral exam at least once a year to determine if there is any dental disease present and determine if the horse needs dental equilibration (floating). 

**Send in your questions to and Dr. Kin will respond in next month's newsletter! 

This picture shows an example of severe ramps on both mandibular arcades as well as a displaced maxillary molar or molar cap. These problems would only be identified with proper sedation and speculum examination. 
Reminder: Make your spring appointment for vaccinations, annual Coggins test, and dentals, and fecal parasite counts if needed. Call us at (405) 973-5740 to make your appointment today!