Feed and Water for Equines

Equines have a simple stomach. They eat grasses and soft plants and need grain as supplementary feed.

Feed for the non-working equine

All equines are similar in their feed requirements and if they are not working or carrying young they need to be allowed to graze for at least a few hours every day on good pasture. Hay can be given to them at night.

Feed for working equines

The working donkey and mule will need 1 kg of concentrate feed in addition to grazing and hay. Working horses will need 2 kg of concentrate feed in addition to their grazing and hay. A heavy working horse can require 4 kg of concentrate. Millet, corn, barley, rice and maize are good concentrate feeds for equines, crushed oats can be fed in small amounts. Barley is very useful and can be fed crushed or the whole grain can be fed after it has been boiled and allowed to cool. Barley makes a good feed if it is left to soak in water overnight then drained and fed with the addition of a handful of salt. When a horse is fed barley whole grains in the dung will indicated that the animal has a tooth problem and is not chewing its food properly.

If bran (from oats) is available it can be fed damp (sprinkled with water), when it acts as a laxative and if fed dry it helps to regulate the gut and make the faeces normal. Vegetables can also be added to the feed. Carrots should be sliced, turnips can be fed whole. Vegetable waste such as potato and apple peelings, carrot tops and cabbage leaves can be chopped up and added to a feed.


Animals should be given clean drinking water every day. A horse needs 25 to 30 litres of water per day but will need less when eating green grass. The horse will need more water when the food is dry or the weather is hot. Pregnant or suckling mares need more water. Do not give water to tired or sweating animals as this can cause colic. Walk the animals around and allow them to cool down for some time before giving them water to drink.