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Ask the Nutritionist: Dr. Getty's Forum for Equine Nutrition

   Welcome to my forum. 

Here you will find more than 6 years of questions and my answers. It is searchable and offers a great deal of information. 

Currently, I am discontinuing new questions. This may change in the future, but in the meantime, please know that It has been a true pleasure serving you. 

Take a look at my Nutrition Library and Tips of the Month for a variety of answers on selected topics. Be sure to sign up for my monthly e-newsletter, Forage for Thought

I also have a growing number of recordings on "Teleseminars on Nutrition Topics that Concern You" as well as the new, Spotlight on Equine Nutrition Series -- printed versions of favorite teleseminars.

And finally, look for my articles in a variety of local publications and online newsletters, as well as the Horse Journal, where I am the Contributing Nutrition Editor.  


All the best,

 Dr. Getty 


Ask the Nutritionist: Dr. Getty's Forum for Equine Nutrition
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Feeding Draft Horses


I have heard many different opions on feedling draft horses. I am wondering what is best type of hay and protien level of the hay that should be fed to draft horses.

Thanks you in advance,


Where are you from? Yakima, WA

How did you locate this forum? Ask Geeves

Re: Feeding Draft Horses

Hi Samantha,

Draft horses are particularly prone to developing Equine Polysaccharide Storage Myopathy (EPSM). Horses with this disorder are not able to get adequate energy from carbohydrates which are mainly found in grains, sweet feeds, and pelleted feeds. A diet that is high in fat and protein, rather than carbohydrates, has been known to prevent the signs of ESPM.

Having said that, (since your question didn’t really deal with ESPM), draft horses, like all horses, should be fed diets that are high in fiber and low in starch. Protein, as long as it is of high quality, is beneficial. A protein level of 12 to 14 percent is adequate, but keep in mind that protein found in grass hay is of poor quality. To improve the protein quality, you can add a legume hay (such as alfalfa) or soybean meal to the diet.

Draft horses, due to their mere size, have large energy needs. They likely will not be able to obtain all the calories they need from hay. So, choose a low starch pelleted feed to supplement the forage, for the best approach.

Thank you for writing.

All the best,

Dr. Getty