Getting the Best Horse Feed Nutrition & Value for Your Money

It seems as though diesel, groceries, fertilizer, grain and hay are all on the price escalator going up, up, up.

There are many reasons for soaring prices, including pressure on crops from ethanol production, higher fuel prices, poor climate conditions in some areas and the declining value of the dollar. Of course, none of these reasons lessen the impact on our pocketbooks, and horse owners are feeling the financial strain. This has caused many horse owners to become more focused on getting the most value for their dollar when it comes to feeding horses.

Finding the best horse feed for the best value means looking past price per bag and calculating the actual cost per day to feed. Divide the price per bag by 50 pounds to determine price per pound. Then, multiply the price per pound by the pounds fed per day. Horse owners are often surprised to find the cheapest horse feed by the bag may be more expensive per day, because it may need to be fed at a larger amount per day or require added expensive supplements to meet nutrient requirements or performance goals.

For example, compare oats that cost approximately $22 per bag to Purina® Strategy® Professional Formula GX horse feed that costs approximately $26 per bag.1 If a horse eats 8 pounds of oats per day to maintain good condition, that same horse would only need 6.5 pounds of Purina® Strategy® horse feed to support the same body condition, because Strategy® horse feed contains more calories per pound than oats. Oats priced at $22 per bag, $0.44 per pound, fed at 8 pounds per day calculates to $3.52 per day to feed. Purina® Strategy® horse feed, priced at $26 per bag, $0.52 per pound, fed at 6.5 pounds per day costs $3.38 per day to feed.

Not only may Purina® Strategy® horse feed cost less per day to feed, it also contains the proper balance of protein, vitamins and minerals the horse needs and includes Purina® Outlast® Gastric Support Supplement. Oats must be supplemented to provide all the nutritional needs of the horse. If you feed a daily protein, vitamin and mineral supplement, you want to figure the cost and add that to your grain cost. Basic supplements will usually add $0.50 to $3.00 per day or more to the cost to feed a horse and adding two servings of Purina® Outlast® Gastric Support Supplement will add around $1.15 per day.

Most people are not very accurate when estimating amounts of hay and grain being fed. For example, a 3-pound coffee can hold 3 pounds of coffee, but it will hold 4 pounds of Purina® Impact® Professional Performance horse feed. The weight of oats can vary quite a bit depending on the quality of the oats and whether they’re crimped or whole, ranging from 2.5 to 4.25 pounds per 3-pound coffee can.  We all know the weight of hay bales can vary significantly, so choices based on the cost per bale can be deceiving if the bales are lighter.  Weighing your feed and your hay measures how much you’re feeding and lets you calculate exactly how much you’re spending to feed your horses. 

The cost of owning horses has certainly gone up over the last few years, and there doesn’t appear to be a change in that trend in the forecast. However, using a scale and a calculator to do a little figuring can reveal possible ways to save money without compromising the health and well-being of your horses.

Use the Purina horse feed calculator to find the correct amount of feed for your horse.

1 Prices vary by market. Actual results may vary.

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