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  • Australian Study Looks At How Fast Horses Eat And Finds That Clydesdales Might Be Greedy!

    Horses that are quick eaters, especially when eating cereal based feeds, are considered to be at higher risk of behavioural problems and digestive problems, especially choke. Whilst choke by itself is not life-threatening, horses with a history of choke have been found to be NINE times more likely to develop complications such as aspiration pneumonia.

    A study from Charles Sturt University in Australia published this month (January 2020) looked at some of the factors relating to the speed at which horses eat. They studied Clydesdales, Thoroughbred and Standardbreds all of similar size and found that Clydesdales ate 48% faster than Thoroughbreds and 62% faster than Standardbreds when given the same meal! Age, gender and exercise had no effect on the speed of eating.

    Adding either short (~1.4cm) or long (~4.0cm) wheat chaff to an oat meal of around 1.5kg (depending on bodyweight) slowed down the speed at which horses ate. Adding 15% chaff slowed down the rate of eating by around 15% but adding 50% chaff to the meal slowed it down by 1/3rd. Interestingly, there was no difference between short or long chaff and no further reduction if more than 50% chaff was added.

    The speed of eating (per minute) was no different for small (250g for 500kg) or large cereal-based meals (2000g per 500kg) and not affected by the addition of 10% molasses. However, horses did eat slower the longer their meal lasted starting around 74g/min for the first 5 min of eating a meal and slowing to 16g/min after 30 min of eating.


    If you have a horse that’s a fast eater and or is prone to colic, choke or behavioural problems, some ways to slow down eating and/or reduce the risk of choke in particular can include:

    • Feeding forage before hard feed 
    • Using specialised feeders such as the Pre-Vent Feeder 
    • Putting obstacles such as large solid balls (such as Boule, Petanque, Bocce balls) in the feed trough 
    • Soaking feeds 
    • Using a grazing muzzle even for hard feed 
    • Feed horses on their own and away from other horses 
    • Feed more smaller meals 
    • Adding chaff (from the Campbell 2020 study above) 
    • Not having a Clydesdale!!

    Link to study: HERE

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