Stallions have unique nutrition and behavioral needs because of their high activity level and potential to become aggressive towards herdmates and humans. Often housed alone, stallions can develop stereotypic behaviours that further complicate their management.

Young colts require consistent and skilled handling to make them easier to manage as adult stallions. Owners should acclimate them to human contact from a young age to introduce training and establish safe behaviors towards handlers.

Stallions require secure housing to prevent aggressive behavior, but ample pasture turnout is important to give these horses an opportunity to expend energy and engage in normal grazing behaviour. Pasture is also a cost-effective source of calories for the higher energy needs of stallions.

Proper feeding of stallions also plays a crucial role in their well-being and reproductive success. Breeding stallions have higher nutritional requirements for energy, protein, and antioxidants such as vitamin E and selenium. Stallions in training have even higher energy demands.

This article will guide you through the basics of feeding and managing stallions effectively. For personalized guidance, consult with an equine nutritionist to formulate a balanced nutrition program that best meets your stallion’s needs.

Feeding and Management of Stallions

Whether you are dealing with a high-performance athlete or a breeding stallion, understanding their unique nutritional and behavioral needs is key to their health and well-being.

Stallions have specific dietary requirements that vary depending on their age, workload, and health status. Some of the factors that equine nutritionists look at to estimate a stallion’s nutritional needs include:

  • Current Breeding Status: Breeding stallions have higher nutritional needs compared to non-breeding stallions
  • Type of Breeding: Stallions used for live cover are presumed to have higher energy needs than those used for artificial insemination
  • Natural Activity Level: Stallions that are more active in their everyday life or those with a high-strung temperament have higher nutritional needs
  • Exercise Program: Stallions engaged in training programs will expend more calories than those solely used for breeding
  • Body Condition: Underweight stallions may have reduced fertility and need to gain weight to meet reproductive goals
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Energy Requirements

The most significant distinction in the nutritional needs of stallions compared to other horses is their higher energy requirement.

As outlined by the National Research Council in the Nutrient Requirements of Horses, the typical energy requirements for a 500 kg (1,100 lb) horse are as follows: [5]

  • Non-exercising gelding: 16.65 megacalories (mcal) per day
  • Non-breeding, non-exercising stallion: 18.2 megacalories (mcal) per day
  • Breeding, non-exercising stallion: 21.8 megacalories (mcal) per day
  • Breeding, moderately exercising stallion: 26.9 megacalories (mcal) per day

The NRC provides general guidelines based on an average horse. It is important to consider individual differences in activity and temperament when determining your stallion’s calorie requirements.

Maintenance Requirements

Although non-breeding stallions are not expending energy for breeding, compared to geldings they have a higher basal metabolic rate, resulting in a higher calorie requirement.

This is described as an elevated maintenance energy requirement. The main reason for their higher metabolic rate is their larger muscle mass which is a direct effect of testosterone. [25]

Breeding Requirements

Breeding stallions have even higher energy requirements due to their reproductive activities. Energy requirements for breeding horses depend on the frequency of breeding and whether they are used for artificial insemination or live cover. [5][11][12]

Popular Thoroughbred stallions used for live cover may breed up to 5 times per day during the breeding season. [2]