Minimum Standards For Water, Feed, Care And Shelter In .

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ExtensionPB 1741Minimum Standards for Water, Feed, Care andShelter in Tennessee

Fred Hopkins, Professor, Large Animal Clinical SciencesDoyle G. Meadows, Professor, Animal ScienceLarry Mitchell, Bradley County Extension OfficeIntroductionIn Tennessee, horses are commonly owned throughout thestate. Tennessee law requires that all animals have necessary water,feed, shelter and care. This publication defines what are consideredthe minimum requirements for horses in these areas. It is important toremember that these represent only the minimums, and horse ownersshould strive to provide care above these levels.2

WaterWater is the most critical and essential nutrient for horses. Horses musthave a source of water to maintain normal body functions. They need water intakedaily as water is lost in sweat, urine and feces. The amount of water a horse willdrink in a day depends on body weight, stage of production (i.e., growth, work,lactation), environmental effects and individual variations. Typically, most horseswill drink 3-10 gallons of water per day. However, water intake during lactationincreases 50 to 70 percent, while working horses will require a substantialincrease (20-300 percent) in their need for water. Horses are best given waterfree-choice, though this may not be possible in all situations.Horses given inadequate water will become dehydrated, and are moresusceptible to a variety of health problems such as loss of appetite, weight loss,colic, kidney disease and skin problems. Dehydration can be measured by pullingthe skin away from the body below the point of the shoulder and letting go. Innormal horses, the skin will regain itsnormal position within two seconds.Horse Care GuidelinesThe skin of dehydrated horses isless elastic and will return to normalHorses should have access to clean,more slowly. A simple blood testpalatable, safe water and be able tocalled packed cell volume is useful indrink their fill at least twice a day.determining dehydration.3

FeedHorses should be fed according to theirnutritional needs. Horses’ nutritional requirements arebased on stage of production (growth and lactation)and activity. The categories that determine nutrientrequirements are maintenance, gestation, lactation,growth and work. The horse is then fed to meet thosenutrient needs. Maintenance requirements are thoserequirements needed for a horse to simply maintainits present body status, neither gaining nor losingweight. Pregnant mares during late gestation requireadditional nutrients above maintenance to sustainbody weight and provide for the growing fetus.Lactation, growth and work may require additionalfeed for nutritional needs above maintenancerequirements.Depending on stage of production, forages(hay or pasture), grains, vitamins and minerals mayneed to be supplied in the correct amount to maintainthe nutritional wellbeing of the horse.ForageSince the horse is a grazing animal, thebasis for all horse diets should be hay or pasture.Good-quality forage alone can meet the maintenancerequirements for most horses, particularly if avitamin-mineral supplement is provided free-choice.In many cases, horses will not only maintain weight,but can make slow body weight gains when fed an allforage diet. Horses should be fed free-choice hay orpasture. However, if free-choice is not possible, theyshould receive at least 1 to 1½ percent of their bodyweight in forage each day. For a 1,000-pound horse,it would take 10 to 15 pounds of hay or pasture perday to meet the forage requirements. Hay should bepalatable, and stored and used so that it does not rotor mold.Forages for horses include pastures and hay.Pastures and hays are generally divided into twocategories, legumes and grasses. Examples oflegumes are alfalfa, clover and lespedeza.Bermuda, timothy, orchard, fescue andbluegrass are examples of grasses.Pastures and hay can be either grasses orlegumes, or combinations of the two.The majority of Tennessee pasturesare fescue or fescue-and-clover mix.GrainsGrains are used to supplyenergy. The most commongrains used to formulatehorse feeds are oats,corn and barley.Sometimes,younggrowinghorses,lactating4

mares and hard-working horses cannot be maintainedon a forage diet alone. The grain is used tosupplement forage to provide the energy and othernutrients needed for faster weight gains, increasedmilk production and superior performances. Generally,the grains are blended with protein sources such assoybean meal, and additional vitamins and mineralsare supplied to produce a mixed feed.The mixed grain diets are readily availablefrom feed and farm supply stores and should be fed atthe rate of 0 to 1.50 pounds per 100 pounds of bodyweight. If the mixed grain diets exceed 5 total poundsdaily, it is recommended that the grain mixture bedivided into two feedings, morning and night. Grainshould be stored so that it does not mold, as moldedfeed should not be fed to horses. Feeder space shouldbe adequate for the number of horses. Moreover,horses should not be fed on the ground due to waste,contamination and increased possibility of colic andparasite and disease transmission. Geriatric horses(those more than 20 years of age) may require aspecial grain mix to maintain their body condition.Complete horse feeds have been successfullyused to replace some or all of a horse’s pasture orhay needs. It is important that these feeds be fed inadequate amounts as several feedings a day.Body ConditionScoringBody Condition Scoring (BCS) is an objectiveway of determining the amount of body fat a horsehas. Body fat is stored when the horse’s energy intakeis more than its immediate daily needs. Body fat is lostwhen the horse’s energy intake is less than immediatedaily needs. While some body fat is stored inside thebody, much is stored under the skin. The amount offat there can be relatively determined by looking and,more importantly, feeling those parts of the horse’sbody. Body condition scores are a useful measure ofthe adequacy of nutrition for that animal’s needs andalso a useful measure of general wellbeing. The mostfrequently used system of body condition scoring wasdeveloped by Dr. Don Henneke while he was at TexasA & M University in the early 1980s.The ideal body condition score for most horsesis 5, but highly conditioned horses, such as thoseused for competitive endurance rides, will have littlebody fat (similar to a human marathon runner).Body condition scoring is best done by lookingat and feeling of both sides of the horse. Severalspecific areas should be evaluated, including theneck, withers, shoulders, ribs, loin and tailhead. Ithas been recommended that these six sites be scoredon both sides and then the results be divided by six.5

Another way to make a more accurate body conditionscore estimate is to look at and feel the horse andthen decide if the horse is thin, fat or in between.Thin horses are in body condition score 1, 2, 3 or 4.Fat horses are in body condition score of 7, 8 or 9.Horses in between are body condition score of 5 or 6.Several situations can make accurate body conditionscoring more difficult, including horses with longhair coats, angular horses with high withers, horseswith hay bellies and very pregnant mares. Changingbody condition scores is a gradual process, with oneto three months being required to change one bodyscore unit in most horses.Horse Care GuidelinesHorses should be maintained in a body condition score of three or more in most cases.However, horses gaining weight and being fed adequately, highly conditioned performancehorses and horses with certain chronic health conditions may be in lower body conditionscores and still be acceptably nourished. Horses more than 20 years of age may notmaintain their body condition well even with special feeds.Table 1.BCSBody Condition Scoring System for HorsesBCS 1Emaciated.All Bones Prominent,No Fat Found1. Poor.Animal is extremely emaciated. Spinous processes(portion of the vertebra of the backbone that projectsupward), ribs, tailhead and bony protrusions of thepelvic girdle (hooks and pins) are prominent. Bonestructure of the withers, shoulders and neck areeasily noticeable. No fatty tissues can be felt.6

BCS 2Emaciated.Little Body Fat,Bones Feel SlightlyRounded2. Very Thin.Animal is emaciated.Slight fat covering over baseof the spinous processes.Transverse processes (portionof vertebrae that projectsoutward) of lumbar (loin area) vertebrae feelrounded. Spinous processes, ribs, shoulders and neck structures arefaintly discernible.BCS 3Fat Halfway up Spinous Processes.All Ribs Can Be Seen3. Thin.Fat is built up abouthalfway on spinousprocesses. Transverseprocesses cannot befelt. Slight fat cover overribs. Spinous processesand ribs are easilydiscernible. Tailhead isprominent, but individualvertebrae cannot bevisually identified. Hookbones (protrusion ofpelvis girdle appearingin upper, forward partof the hip) appearrounded, but are easilydiscernible. Pin bones(bony projections ofpelvis girdle locatedtoward rear, mid-sectionof the hip) are notdistinguishable. Withers,shoulders and neck areaccentuated.7

BCS 4BackboneSlightly aboveBack.Faint Outline ofPosterior RibsSeen.4. Moderately Thin.Negative creasealong back (spinousprocesses of vertebraeprotrude slightly abovesurrounding tissue).Faint outline of ribs isdiscernible. Fat can befelt around tailhead (prominence depends on conformation). Hook bonesare not discernible. Withers, shoulders and neck are not obviously thin.BCS 5Back Is Level,Ribs Cannot BeSeen5. Moderate.Back is level. Ribscannot be visuallydistinguished, but canbe easily felt. Fat aroundtailhead begins to feelspongy. Withers appearrounded over spinousprocesses. Shouldersand neck blendsmoothly into body.8

Slight Creasedown Back.Soft Fat overRibs andTailhead.6. Moderate to Fleshy.May have slight creasedown back. Fat over ribsfeels spongy. Fat aroundtailhead feels soft. Fatbegins to be depositedalong the sides of thewithers, behind shouldersand along neck.BCS 6BCS 7Crease down Back.Ribs Can Be Feltwith Pressure.7. Fleshy.May have crease downback. Individual ribscan be felt, but withnoticeable filling of fatbetween ribs. Fat aroundtailhead is soft. Fat isdeposited along withers,behind shoulders andalong neck.9

BCS 8Crease downBack. CrestedNeck, Fat alongInner Buttocks8. Fat.Crease down back.Difficult to feel ribs.Fat around tailhead isvery soft. Area alongwithers is filled with fat.Area behind shoulder isfilled in flush with restof the body. Noticeablethickening of neck. Fatis deposited along innerbuttocks.BCS 9Deep Creasedown Back.Bulding Fatover Tailhead.Flank Flushwith Ribs9. Extremely Fat.Obvious crease downback. Patchy fatappears over ribs.Bulging fat aroundtailhead, alongwithers, behindshoulders and alongneck. Fat along innerbuttocks may rubtogether. Flank isfilled in flush withrest of the body.10

ShelterHorses can adapt to a wide variety ofenvironmental extremes if they are acclimated andhave adequate feed and water. Horses with freeaccess to shelter will often choose not to use it whenit seems logical they would do so. Acceptable sheltermay be natural, such as trees, or constructed, such asbarns. In some circumstances, natural shelter offersadvantages over constructed shelter.Horses do benefit from shelter, particularlyas it acts as a sunshade and wind screen. Theshelter should be of adequate size for the number ofhorses using it to avoid fighting among the animals.Individual stalls should be big enough for the horseto turn around. A 12-foot x 12-foot stall is adequatefor all but thelargest horse.Horse CareThe shelterGuidelinesshould be tallenough so theHorses should have freehorse’s ears doaccess to natural ornot touch theconstructed shelter that isceiling with thewell-ventilated with adequatehorse standingspace and free of normalStabled horses should beposture withallowed exercise daily.the head heldhigher than thewithers. The shelter should be adequately ventilated tohelp prevent respiratory infection and should be freeof hazards that might cause injury. Finally, it shouldhave good footing and be well-drained.CareHorses, like all animals, need regular,preventative health care as well as veterinary care forproblems as they arise. Horses should be observed forwellbeing at least once every 24 hours.Vaccines are often indicated to preventinfectious disease. Also, deworming and variousenvironmental management practices are necessary toprevent health problems due to internal parasites. Therecommended basic vaccines for horses are Eastern,Western and West Nile Virus Encephalitis and Tetanus.Other vaccines may be useful in certain situations.Most horses will benefit from being dewormed two tofour times a year; young horses need to be dewormedmore often. Tennessee law requires that horses havea negative Coggins test (for Equine Infectious Anemia)no more than six months before change of ownershipand no more than 12 months before being taken to acongregation point such as shows, boarding stablesand trail rides. Regular hoof care is important to ahorse’s wellbeing to prevent hoof problems and toallow normal movement.Horse Care GuidelinesHorses should be free of significanthealth problems or should be receivingappropriate health care to preventunnecessary discomfort and promoteprompt return to wellbeing. The horseshould receive adequate hoof care to allowthe horse to stand in a normal postureand move at all gaits without discomfort.Some health and hoof problems (such asheaves or founder) in horses, particularlythose that are longstanding, may not beresolvable, but this should be determinedby veterinary exam.SummaryHorses are extremely hardy and are strong survivors. Typically, if horses have access to clean water andfree-choice forage, they can survive extreme weather conditions. Obviously, a disease-and-parasite-controlprogram and a constructed or natural shelter would help provide for the horses’ wellbeing.11

Visit the UT Extension Web site ep)E12-4415-00-007-0805-0067Copyright 2007 The University of Tennessee. All rights reserved. This document may be reproduced and distributed for nonprofit educational purposesproviding that credit is given to University of Tennessee Extension.Programs in agriculture and natural resources, 4-H youth development, family and consumer sciences, and resource development.University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture and county governments cooperating.UT Extension provides equal opportunities in programs and employment.

Fat horses are in body condition score of 7, 8 or 9. Horses in between are body condition score of 5 or 6. Several situations can make accurate body condition Table 1. Body Condition Scoring System for Horses scoring more difficult, including horses with long hair coats, angular horses with high withers, horses with hay bellies and very .

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