Is your horse getting the correct amount of grain? If you’re measuring it only in “scoops” it’s impossible to know.
Most horse feeds are formulated to be fed by weight. You’ll see this right on the feed tag: An average-size horse in light work, for instance, might be listed as needing three pounds of that feed per day. Three pounds does not equal three scoops, however. The weight of the feed held by a scoop will vary by the specific feed, the design of the scoop and even how tightly the feed is packed into it.
The solution is to weigh the grain with a kitchen or postal scale. With a mechanical scale, weigh the empty scoop, then fill it with grain and weigh it again. Subtract the scoop weight from the filled weight. Electronic scales will do the math for you: Simply “zero out” the weight of the scoop on the platform, then fill it to the desired weight.
For a healthy horse in good condition, you’ll need to weigh feed only once, then calculate the corresponding number of scoops. You can then feed by scoops alone---as long as you continue feeding the same feed. (Extreme temperatures can soften or harden some feeds, affecting how tightly it packs into a scoop, so you may want to reweigh under those conditions.)
A horse who is skinny, overweight or has metabolic issues might benefit from precisely weighed feed at each meal. You can streamline the process by weighing out a week’s worth of daily rations and placing them in ziplock bags that can be poured out into the feed tub at mealtimes.
Originally published in EQUUS 490