MyGG Volunteers Birthday Parties at Foxhills Farm Events & Foxhills Farm & Riding SchoolABRS ExaminationsMyGG Videos

Feed Your Horse

 

 

 

 

 

 

Due to the fact that horses cannot speak it is down to us as owners to provide them with the right type and amount of feed for a happy, healthy and prolonged life.

 

 

Due to the fact that horses cannot speak it is down to us as owners to provide them with the right type and amount of feed for a happy, healthy and prolonged life. For a lot of horse owners they find it easier to copy what other people around them feed their horses and for some people they purchase supplements ands additives purely because they can, not realising the harm they can do.

 

Every horse is an individual just like us humans and the importance of feeding correctly is more important than you can imagine. Although tack shops and feed merchants can to a degree give advice on feeding we have to remember that they are running a business and profit from sales is important to them. They do not know your horse and that is why it is important to understand how your horse works and what its requirements are. If in doubt contact one or two feed manufacturers for advice.

 

UNTRUE MYTHS

1 - FEEDING BRAN KEEPS THE DIGESTIVE TRACT MOVING

Bran is the seed coat or the outer layer of a cereal grain and for many years its primary use was in bran mashes. The two primary ingredients in a typical bran mash are wheat bran and hot water with other ingredients added based on the preference of the horse. Through the ages, bran mashes have been touted as effective laxatives, and an aid to keep the digestive tract moving and thus preventing colic. This theory has been proved to be un-true by scientific trials at Cornell University, which have shown no increase in faecal water content or associated softening of the droppings (even when it was fed in its most sloppy state, faecal water content only increased by 3%). Loose manure usually occurs the day after bran has been suddenly introduced in to a horses feed but this is merely a result of mild digestive upset caused by the sudden change in diet.

 

2 - HAYLAGE IS REALLY RICH SO FEED LESS

It’s important to remember that haylage contains more water than hay; up to half of every net you give could be water, if your haylage is quite moist. This means the nutrients are more diluted than in hay, so restricting the amount of haylage you feed could mean your horse isn’t receiving enough fibre in his/her diet, which could lead to digestive upsets such as colic. It’s better to feed plenty of haylage and reduce the energy content of any concentrate ration given if necessary.

 

3 - NUTS AND CUBES CAUSE HORSES TO CHOKE

There’s no reason why horses are more likely to choke on cubes or nuts than a mix. Any horse can choke if he bolts his feed or can’t chew it very well because of poor dental condition. Adding chaff to your horses feed will slow his eating and dampening the feed for the older horse may help to prevent choking, but don’t avoid nuts and cubes, there’s just no reason to.

 

4 - HAY SHOULD BE SOAKED FOR AT LEAST ONE HOUR

Hay is soaked to reduce the risk of respiratory-related and weight problems. The longer hay is soaked the more nutrients are lost. Research indicates that soaking for between 20 -30 minutes is the most effective length of time, where the benefits of soaking are achieved and the loss of nutrients is lowest.

 

5 - ALWAYS DAMPEN CONCENTRATE FEED

It is not essential for concentrate feed to be damp. Your horse should produce enough saliva when chewing to naturally moisten his food, making it easier to swallow. By dampening his feed you could simply be causing your horse to eat faster, which may make for less efficient digestion. Horses with poor dental condition may benefit from having their feed dampened, but remember horses need to chew to wear down their teeth.

 

6 - HORSES SHOULDN’T EAT STRAW

Yes straw isn’t very digestible and yes it has a low nutritional value. But straw can be treated to improve digestibility and then be included in high fibre, low energy feeds. Molassed chops and chaffs are often based on straw and oat straw and can be a very useful addition to the diets of ‘good doers’ who need fibre for gut function and who can put on weight from hay alone.

 

7 - STARVE PONIES PRONE TO LAMINITIS

Unfortunately, ponies prone to laminitis are often starved to try and prevent the disease re-occurring. This can really compromise their health and put the horse at risk of developing a potentially fatal disease called hyperlipaemia. This is where fat stores are broken down very rapidly and may clog up the liver causing it to fail. It’s extremely important that even over-weight ponies receive some feed at regular intervals throughout the day. Small amounts of low nutritional value forages, such as oat straw or course fibrous hay, are sufficient to maintain gut function but won’t result in laminitis.

 

UNDERSTANDING NUTRITION

As horse owners we need to ensure that our horses are fed appropriately, to enable them to maintain a healthy condition and the right energy levels for work. So an understanding of equine nutrition is very important, even if its just the basics. Whats important to remember is we need to feed only what our horses require, no more and no less. But many owners, faced with a market full of new feeds, new supplements and new ideas, are baffled by feeding, and very often necessity goes out the window. Designed to live in the wild, horses would naturally create their own diets eating grasses, herbs and shrubs throughout the day and night. But having domesticated this very adaptable animal, it’s now our job to make sure our horses receive balanced diets to fulfill their energy needs and nutrient requirements. To understand what a nutritionally-balanced diet is, we need to understand nutrients and our horses.

 

NUTRIENTS

Nutrients are needed in the form of proteins, carbohydrates, water, fats, oils, vitamins and minerals

 

PROTEIN (The Building blocks for muscles and tissues)

Protein is extremely important to your horse as its continually needed for growth, repair and renewal within the body. Proteins are found in all living cells and the quality of protein we feed is very important. Excess protein is converted into energy. Some areas that need protein is skin, hair, muscles, connective tissues and hooves.

 

CARBOHYDRATES

ENERGY Carbohydrates provide your horse with energy for all basic body functions. They help to provide heat, fat and locomotion and come in three groups.

1, Simple sugars (glucose), 2 storage sugars (starch) 3, structural polysaccharides (fibre)

 

WATER Water (although technically not a nutrient) is an essential part of your horses diet. It aids the digestive process and makes up 65-75% of his body. He can’t go without it.

 

FATS & OILS Fats and oils provide our horses with a concentrated source of energy and help to improve body and coat condition. Some fats are needed in your horses diet to absorb the fat soluble vitamins A.D.E & K

 

OIL SOURCES Soya oil, linseed oil, grass, corn oil, vegetable oils and fish oils.

 

VITAMINS & MINERALS Vitamins are complex molecules which are involved in many of our horses essential bodily functions, while minerals are components of molecules needed for body structure and function. A balance of both is needed in a healthy diet.

 

HOW YOUR HORSE WORKS

The horse’s digestive system is often referred to in two parts, the foregut and the hindgut. The foregut contains the stomach and small intestine and the hindgut contains the large intestine. Knowing how your horse digests his food can make how you need to feed, when you need to feed and why you need to feed much clearer.

 

IN THE MOUTH By chewing your horse breaks down his food to make it easier to digest. Chewing also stimulates the production of saliva which further breaks down food and lubricates the digestive tract. For this reason, your horse’s teeth should be in good condition to enable him to chew efficiently which may require check ups from an equine dental technician.

 

FOREGUT Food passes down your horse’s oesophagus to his stomach where it is broken down into fibre, protein and fat. It’s important to remember that your horses stomach is only small, approximately the size of a football, so it can’t handle large quantities of feed at once. For this reason, horses are naturally trickle feeders. This means that in the wild they constantly graze rather than eating large amounts at different intervals throughout the day and night- a little and often. To help your horse keep as natural a diet as possible, ensure he always has access to grass or forage to keep his gut full and active. Your horse’s small intestine is made up of three parts. DUODENUM, JEJUNUM & ILEUM.


DUODENUM Here bile and enzymes from the liver and pancreas mix with the intestinal enzymes to break down the food into nutrients.


JEJUNUM Here almost all of the nutrients are absorbed into the blood to be used or stored.


ILEUM Here the flow of partially digested food to the large intestine is controlled. At this point the food matter is only fibre and water. Some further nutrient absorption also occurs in the ileum.

 

HINDGUT The lining of the large intestine doesn’t produce enzymes, so digestion here takes place using enzymes brought from the small intestine and by a process called microbial fermentation. The large intestine can also be broken down into a number of sections- the caecum, the large colon, the small colon and the rectum.


CAECUM The caecum contains millions of good bacteria called gut flora. Gut flora breaks down tough fibre and anything which hasn’t been absorbed in the foregut.


LARGE COLON Here fermentation continues and fatty acids and water are absorbed.


SMALL COLON Here water and important electrolytes continue to be absorbed before the remaining undigested or partly digested food matter is passed into the rectum then expelled as droppings.

 

A FEED FOR EVERY OCCASION

 

STRAIGHTS

Straights are simple cereals such as oats, barley, wheat and maize which can be bought individually. However, while carefully created compound feeds from different manufacturers are designed to give a balanced diet, straights, when fed alone with forage do not provide the correct amount of vitamins and minerals needed by your horse. For this reason it may be necessary to feed with a balancer.

 

BALANCERS

Balancers are a more concentrated type of feed, used to make up the necessary nutrient levels of forage or cereal based diets. How much you need of one depends on the nutrient deficiencies in your horse’s current diet. When feeding forage alone, it all depends on quality, the better the quality of forage, the less balancer you will need. Some balancers such as Baileys Oat balancer mix are designed to be fed alongside specific straights to counteract any nutrient deficiencies that may be found in them, as well as providing calories.

 

COMPOUND FEEDS

Compound feeds come in different forms such as coarse mixes, nuts and cubes and are generally made using a range of ingredients such as raw materials and additives. These should be fed alongside good quality forage to ensure a balanced diet.

 

MIXES

Mixes are visually appealing, palatable and a convenient way to feed your horse. By carefully following the manufacturers instructions on the bag you can ensure that your horse receives the correct complete feed ration each day, to support his forage intake. Different types of mix are designed to be appropriate for different purposes and different horses. For example, veteran mix for the more senior horse, competition mix for those who need a bit of get up and go or cool mix for horses who need energy but not fizz!

 

NUTS & CUBES

Nuts and cubes are high in fibre. Their ingredients are mixed and ground up before being made into cube or nut form. Each cube or nut contains the same amount of nutrients, so if you have a picky horse who tends to eat what he wants from mixes, leaving the rest, a nut or cube may be a better option. Some horses may find nuts or cubes boring and prefer mixes, so it’s important to establish their preference so you can be confident that they will eat what they are given

 

FIBRE, FORAGE & ROUGHAGE

Fibre provides slow release energy while filling your horses gut and can be fed in a number of forms

 

CHAFF

Chaff products have always played a big part in feeding as chopped straw were traditionally used to bulk up feeds. Today many chaff products are available on the market including molassed and non molassed varieties which can be fed easily as a natural source of fibre. Readigrass from friendship estates is 100% grass with nothing added. It can be fed as a chaff to slow down fast eaters and is also a fantastic way to disguise supplements or medications which need to be added to feed. Alternatively it can be fed in larger quantities to enhance or completely replace your horses forage ration.

 

STRAW

Many people think feeding straw is an absolute no no, but it’s often included in many feeds. Nutritionally improved oat straw is usually in high fibre pellets (fed alone or as part of a compound feed) and also in some chaff products.

 

ALFALFA

Alfalfa is a legume related to the pea and bean family. The dried leaves and stalks of the alfalfa plant provide fibre, energy, quality protein and vitamins A, B and E. Dengie is the UKs largest producer of Alfalfa in the UK so you’ll probably have seen a number of their products.

 

SUGAR BEET

Sugar beet is a great fibre provider and can be bought in many forms. But because of its ability to absorb water, sugar beet cubes and pellets must be soaked so that they are safe to feed. Without soaking, sugar beet could be the cause of choke, colic or swelling of the horse’s stomach. However, compound feeds containing sugar beet are safe to use without soaking.

 

HOW LONG SHOULD I SOAK IT FOR Cubes or pellets should be soaked for 24 hours, and shreds for 12 hours. Flakes such as Speedibeet flakes should be soaked for 10 minutes.


While sugar beet is nothing new, quick soak sugar beet is. Like normal sugar beet it’s high in fibre, palatable and a great form of slow release energy, but it’s so much quicker to prepare. With the hustle and bustle of everyday life it’s sometimes not ideal to wait 24 hours or even 12 hours for your sugar beet to soak. So quick soak products like Speedi-Beet, from British Horse Feeds, are proving popular as well as practical.


WHAT IS SPEEDI-BEET Speedi-Beet is specially processed sugar beet. After being processed the beet pulp is flaked to increase surface area and aid rapid water absorption, which is why Speedi-Beet can be prepared in less than 10 minutes. During winter months it is best to soak with warm water which will warm the gut and encourage further intake and avoid impaction colic.

 

THE EXTRAS

SUPPLEMENTS

There’s a huge choice of supplements on the market offering products for all types of horses and a range of different purposes. These are meant to be fed in addition to your horses feed, if necessary, to complete their daily ration and can be fed to help aid joint mobility, vitamin and mineral intake, hoof growth and much more. Supplement forms include powders, liquids, herbs and now even natural mushroom products! Hoof Matrix aims to create stronger and healthier hooves from the inside out, with a blend of specially selected organic medicinal mushrooms.

 

OILS

Oil does a lot more than we often give it credit for; it provides more energy than carbohydrates gained from cereals and an alternative way to increase your horse’s calorie intake without upping the volume of his feed. It also helps to improve coat condition.

WINTER FEEDING

Many horses suffer from loss of condition and reduced performance over the winter months as nutrients previously available in grass start to disappear and the body has to put more energy into staying warm. At this time of year getting your horses feeding plan right is particularly important. There will be days when the temperatures are very low and stabling, rugs and extra fermentable fibre will not be enough to keep your horse warm. Feeding concentrates as well as forage will then be necessary. Horses rely on fermentation in the hind gut to generate heat and warm the deep body areas. Increasing the feed passing through the digestive system allows the horses body to generate the extra heat required. Without this the horse is unable to produce heat through digestion and instead will start to shiver. This muscular activity generates heat, but the energy used will lead to a loss of condition.

 

When adjusting your horses diet for winter, the first thing to think about is increasing the amount of fibre you’re feeding. If your horse is already getting ad-lib hay, he may need a boost from another source. Both Speedi-beet and Fibre-beet contain rapidly fermentable fibre. Though a slower release than concentrates their energy is more complete than that from forage and the sugar beet actually improves the fermentability of other fibres in the diet. This means they are great for feeding your horse’s natural central heating system.

 

The choice of hard feed is also important and there are plenty of choices suitable for your type of horse and his work load. Contact one of the horses feed manufacturers and speak to a nutritionist. You will find they are very helpful. Also it is wise to think about a worm count because although you might be worming on a regular basis, if some of the little blighters have become immune your feeding regime will be affected.

 

CEREAL STRAIGHTS

These days compound feeds incorporate all the ingredients, including straights, we need to give our horses a balanced diet. Straights provide the extra energy horses need to work. Here we look at oats, barley, maize and wheat to show you what they are all about.

 

OATS (the all-rounder)

Oats contain less starch and more fibre than other cereal grains making them the best all-round grain. But they are unfairly thought of as the most heating cereal. All cereals can be heating.


HOW TO FEED The fibre in oats is relatively indigestible but a good source of fibre. They can be fed whole to horses with good teeth that don’t bolt their feed, or bruised, crushed or rolled. When oats are rolled, bruised or crushed, their husks are broken, doing some of the work the horses teeth should do.


However it’s important to note that once oats have been treated in this way, their nutritional value will begin to decline. Think of it as something you would buy sealed at the supermarket. Once the seal has been removed the product inside won’t stay fresh for long. Oats are sealed by the husks so don’t leave your rolled oats in the feed room for too long.


NAKED OATS Unlike normal oats, naked oats are huskless and therefore lower in fibre and much higher in starch and oil. For this reason their energy content is highly concentrated and their starch content is quickly and easily digestible. It’s unhealthy and may even be harmful to feed naked oats in large quantities.

 

BARLEY Barley is high in energy but lower in fibre than oats. The grains are very hard and their husks tightly attached, so they shouldn’t be fed to horses unless they are crushed, rolled or boiled to increase their digestibility. Barley is commonly used on traditional yards and people often choose to feed it because it’s known to help build condition. However, an amount of oats equal in energy is a much safer and healthier way to build condition.


WHEAT ( MICRONIZING)
Micronization is a process, where cereal grains are cooked using infra red heat. The purpose is to break up starch molecules within the grain, improving its digestibility.


Wheat grains should never be fed unprocessed but can often be found micronized in many compound feeds as energy providers. Wheat feed, the by product of wheat, is also commonly seen in compound feeds. It provides minimal starch but is an easily digestible form of fibre.

 

MAIZE is another grain which needs to be processed before feeding. If untouched maize grains are large, hard and difficult to digest. So they are rolled, ground or steam flaked, which leaves them resembling something not too unlike a cornflake.


Maize is high in energy and low in protein and fibre and like other cereals can become heating if overfed. You will often see maize in compound feeds due to its yellow colour. The energy it supplies is needed by only the very hardest working horses.

 

DON’T RELY ON STRAIGHTS ALONE
There’s a good reason why compound feeds fill the feed shop shelves. They provide a pre-balanced ration for your horse when fed with plenty of forage.


Straights alone don’t provide all the necessary nutrients your horse needs to maintain energy levels and condition. Most grains are low in amino acids and calcium and these shortfalls must be balanced out.

 

HAY & HAYLAGE

Some horses may prefer one to the other while their owners might think one has more to offer, but hay and haylage both have their benefits, so which one is right for your horse? We look at them both so you can make an informed decision.

 

HAY QUALITY It can be difficult to source a consistently good supply of hay and many of you may have experienced a dodgy batch or two. Hay quality is dependant upon the quality of the grass harvested and its dry matter at the time of baling. Weather conditions during production will affect the quality significantly.


THE DOWNSIDE OF HAY is that most samples contain high levels of dust, mould and dust mites and their faeces. Dust and mould spores can cause serious problems for your horse’s respiratory health. They often result in an allergic reaction which may lead to permanent respiratory problems such as RAO (Recurrent Airway Obstruction) So, freedom from dust and mould spores is more important than nutritional value.


Soaking hay can minimize the effects, but this also greatly reduces the nutrient value and, once dry, the spores will become airbourne again.


WHAT TO LOOK FOR If possible, ask to examine hay before you buy it, it should have a clean sweet smell with a green colour and should not be fed if musty or dark in colour.


WHATS IT WORTH Hay can typically provide over 70% of the total diet for a mature horse, so its nutritional value should not be overlooked. You can get a basic nutritional analysis from some feed manufacturers to indicate levels of protein, energy, calcium, phosphorus and potassium. Moisture content and dry matter will confirm quality observations.

 

BIG BALE HAYLAGE Many feed merchants offer large baled, locally produced, unbranded farm haylage which can be a big money saver. But you can’t always be sure exactly what you’re feeding to your horse. Big bale haylage is often made from older pasture which may previously have been grazed, so it’s more likely to contain weeds which can be unpalatable for horses.


After cutting, wilting and baling, haylage is wrapped to exclude air. It must be wrapped sufficiently to ensure a complete seal as exposure to air can increase the risk of Myco-toxins ( toxic chemical products produced by fungi) and Botulism ( a form of food poisoning which can be fatal.


The quality, nutritional content, dry matter and acidity of big bale haylage may all be variable and it’s unlikely to have been analysed or come with a quality guarantee.

 

BAGGED FORAGE Top quality bagged forage from a well established, reliable producer will have a consistent and high nutritional value as well as a full nutritional analysis and quality guarantee. It will also contain optimum levels of protein and vitamins and is dust free. Most offer variety of grass types for higher or lower energy feeding to suit all horses and ponies, and its highly palatable making it ideal for fussy feeders.


The selected grasses are specifically sown for this purpose and are usually reseeded every two to three years to maintain grass quality, with production analysed daily.


WHAT TO LOOK FOR When buying bagged haylage make sure that the bag is fully sealed with no holes or tears thus confirming air tight seal.


WHAT’S IT WORTH This type of haylage is cut and turned in the same way as hay, but instead of allowing it to dry completely on the field, its baled when the grass has semi-wilted and the dry matter has reached about 55%. This strict quality control takes place throughout the production process in order to ensure the optimum moisture content of 35 – 45% together with the fibre and nutrient levels.

 

SUPPLEMENTS

These days there are supplements for every horse and every issue whether it’s for hooves or joints, breathing or digestion, you name it, it’s out there. Supplements are available in a number of forms including powders, granules, liquids, pellets and pastes. Generally these can be added to your horse’s compound feed or even water in the case of some electrolytes, but they are essentially something to be added to your horse’s diet to supplement it. So really the clue is in the name.


But what are the facts and what do we need to know?


For starters it’s important to understand that not all horses need supplements. But because there are so many available to us, it’s easy to think like we may need to be feeding one. If you think your horse may need a supplement but you’re not sure, consult a nutritionist. However, don’t feel pressured into buying one just because you can.


Horses on well balanced diets showing no signs of ill health or specific conditions shouldn’t need to be fed a supplement. But many horses may benefit from being fed a broad spectrum vitamin and mineral supplement if there are any short falls in their daily micronutrient supply.


The quality of feed stuffs can be guaranteed if the manufacturers comply with Universal Feed Assurance Scheme guidelines. Look out for the UFAS logo which will ensure that products are manufactured to a high standard and full traceability can be assured. This is particularly relevant with herbs which may be sourced from all over the world.


Most importantly of all. READ & UNDERSTAND THE LABEL and as with all feeds unless otherwise stated measure by weight as scoop sizes vary.
Diarrhea, colic or foul smelling droppings may each be a sign that your horse has a problem in the gut.

 

RESPIRATORY SUPPLEMENTS Because many horses are stabled, worked indoors and fed hay which may contain dust spores, some can suffer from irritation when it comes to their breathing. Many respiratory supplements claim to help clear your horse’s airways and alleviate persistent coughs. Of course different brands offer different levels of support so it’s always important to read the label to see what each offers and find one that’s right for your horse (if he needs one)


Many contain antioxidants which are said to support the horses immune system and consequently their lung function, and there’s some scientific evidence which suggests that antioxidants can be beneficial to horses suffering from RAO (recurrent airway obstruction) also known as COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder). Some contain various ingredients you might recognise from human cold and flu remedies such as eucalyptus oil which is sometimes included in respiratory formulas to help clear airways. Honey, ginger and Echinacea are also often included and are claimed to help maintain healthy lung tissue.


HOOF SUPPLEMENTS. Supplements that claim to promote healthy hooves and hoof growth are very popular with horse owners. The vitamin most crucial for hoof growth and regeneration is biotin, a member of the B vitamin family. It’s available in good grass and legume mixtures but is otherwise poorly available from other food sources. It’s been shown that hoof problems may be resolved by using very high levels of biotin over an extended period of time. These supplements are most commonly available in powder or liquid form.


JOINT & MUSCLE SUPPLEMENTS. Horses are used for all sorts of activity so tired joints and muscles, general wear and tear and stiffness can become an issue for some. Joint supplements are used to improve joint mobility and include ingredients to promote joint regeneration. Some of the ingredients you will see are Glucosamine, Chondroitin, MSM, and Manganese. Glucosamine, Chrondroitin Sulphate and MSM (methylsulphonylmethane), are all thought to help reduce joint inflammation.


CALMERS. Calming supplements, often referred to as calmers are designed to be used to reduce stress, tension, anxiety and nervousness in horses. These can be fed as a powder, liquid, granule or paste. Some are designed to be fed frequently to regulate excitable behaviour while others can be used before an event or exercise or even prior to clipping. Decide what it is your horse needs from a calmer before you buy one to be sure its suitable ( be aware that some can have a sedative effect which may not be ideal if you are training or competing) Some calmers may include ingredients which are banned in competitive equestrian sports, such as herb valerian. Always read the label on the supplement you’re feeding and check the rules on banned substances with the relevant governing body or you may get yourself into trouble.


HEALTHY DIGESTION. As with humans, digestive upset in horses can leave them feeling pretty rotten.


Digestion enhancing supplements are designed to support the horse’s digestive system and the balance between friendly and harmful bacteria in the gut. They are also said to help to maintain normal levels of acidity in the gut, sustain the immune system, combat symptoms of stress and help to maintain vitality in older horses.


Horses that may benefit from supplements designed to enhance digestive function include, underweight and/or undernourished horses whose gut bacteria population may be compromised. Horses that may have experienced a sudden change in diets and as a result a digestive upset. Horses that often become easily excitable and as a result pass loose droppings and older horses whose immune response may be poor or in decline.


SALTS & ELECTROLYTES. When horses sweat they lose vital minerals called electrolytes. Without these dehydration and lethargy (among other things) can quickly become a problem. But to replace the lost minerals you can feed your horse electrolytes which are available in a number of forms such as powders, granules, liquids, pastes and licks. Electrolytes will help to replace lost salts and prevent dehydration by encouraging your horse to drink.


Electrolytes your horse will lose through sweat and urine include sodium chloride (salt), calcium, magnesium, chloride, phosphorous and potassium. Not all electrolyte supplements include all of these.


If your horse is working hard and sweating regularly, it’s a good idea to introduce an electrolyte supplement to his diet. Guidelines an how to feed them vary from product to product so always read the label and feed accordingly. Keep a salt lick readily available in your horse’s field or stable and make sure plenty of water is always available.


BROAD SPECTRUM VITAMIN & MINERAL SUPPLEMENTS Most horses don’t receive all the micronutrients they need, for example if they are on poor quality grazing, so generally a broad spectrum vitamin and mineral supplement can be very useful.


If your horse is stabled, fed a diet of straights (or partly made up from straights), or if he doesn’t receive the full recommended amount of his compound feed, for whatever reason, he’s likely to benefit from a broad spectrum vitamin & mineral supplement. These are available in a number of forms including powders and even unique licks.

 

NUTRIENTS (A Horse Needs)

PROTEIN is required for growth and repair of tissue and muscle development. Quality of protein is as important as quantity. Excess protein is converted into energy, although compared to carbohydrates and fat, protein is a poor energy source. Most straight cereals and hays are deficient in good quality protein.


FIBRE is essential for your horse. It can be derived from forages or the seed coats of cereals. Ground fibre (as in pellets) will pass through the horses gut quickly while a length of fibre requires more chewing. The fibre declared on bags is known as crude fibre and gives no indication of where in the gut it’s digested or how digestible it is. Fibre is a form of structural carbohydrate and is digested in the hind gut by microbial fermentation, which produces slow release energy and also yields B vitamins.


OIL is a useful energy source, Oil is almost three times denser than oats but it takes more time to metabolise and is therefore a good source of slow release energy. Small amounts of oil will provide sufficient essential fatty acids (which cannot be synthesized by the horse) to improve skin and coat condition. Larger amounts of oil can promote weight gain, but it can also be useful for stamina work because it helps to spare glycerin, the energy stored in muscles. There are often high levels of oil in performance feeds.


ASH is an inorganic material (i.e.; anything which isn’t protein, oil or carbohydrate). It’s usually an indication of how high the mineral inclusion is. High levels of ash in hay analysis suggest soil contamination.


VITAMIN A plays a role in eyesight and also the formation and protection of epithelial tissue and mucous membrane. It also helps the immune system.


VITAMIN D is required for the maintenance of calcium and phosphate homeostasis. It affects bone formation.


VITAMIN E is an antioxidant, which helps to maintain packed cell volume in blood. It is also used in cell membranes.


COPPER is needed for bone growth, haemoglobin formation and anaemia when there’s a deficiency

 

For further information or bookings please call 0121 360 9160 or 07546 380 901