Feeding through the colder months can prove a challenge to some horse owners. In this blog we discuss how and what to feed your equine that might be nutritionally challenged!
Horses have evolved to be grazing animals that eat little and often. Ideally horses should be grazing for 16 hours of the day to allow a continuous passage of food through the gastro intestinal tract. This helps reduce the likely hood of problems such as ulcers and colic and keeps horses mentally happy.
Grazing doesn’t always have to be in the form of grass; feeding hay/haylage or a good quality chaff as a forage replacer are equally good alternatives and fit in better when horses have to be stabled.
Another point to keep in mind is feed sizes should be kept small. Dry weight should not exceed 2kg for the average horse, and it is best to split feeds so they are spread out throughout the day. Ideally three or four feeds a day for a competition horse who requires energy dense feed, or two feeds for your good doer who receives little in the way of ‘hard’ feed.
Below we go through some of our best sellers that are essential for common scenarios customers face through the winter months.
Feeding for weight gain
Barley-free and based on micronised wheat, the cubes are non-heating and highly digestible and are renowned for restoring lost condition without blowing horses’ minds. They provide excellent quality protein, which is vital for developing muscle tone and real top line, as well as soya oil for coat condition and as an additional source of slow release energy. Their effectiveness means that weight gain can be promoted without having to resort to excessive volumes of hard feed, helping to avoid the associated digestive risks.
With a superior vitamin and mineral profile, including chelated (Bioplex®) minerals, Top Line Conditioning Cubes are incredibly versatile and can be fed to all types of horses and ponies at rest, in work or competing up to the highest levels.
CoolCondition cubes provide non-heating but conditioning calories and are ideal for horses that need condition without ‘fizz’. Ideally fed alongside a Topspec feed balancer (such as Topspec Comprehensive or Topspec Cool balancer), they contain no added vitamins and minerals. This allows the feeding rate to be adjusted without any impact on the trace element intake as this is provided throught the balancer.
CoolCondition Cubes combine the brilliant properties of being seriously cool and seriously conditioning – a very rare combination. They are formulated without the use of any cereals, so they are not just ‘oat-free’ or ‘barley-free’ but completely cereal-grain-free. At the same time they have a good conditioning index of 12.5MJ/kg, equivalent to most cereal-containing conditioning compound feeds.
To keep your horse's fibre intake high Alfa-A oil is the perfect chaff to give to horses in work that require added condition. Naturally low in sugar and starch, Alfa-A oil contains no added sugar, is molasses and preservative free with the addition of rapeseed oil to help promote condition. Alfa-A Oil provides 12.5MJ/kg of slow-release energy, which is comparable to a conditioning or competition mix, but provides 10 times less starch, making it ideal for horses with ERS which research indicates benefit from a low sugar and starch diet.
High in oil for condition and slow release energy, with added B vitamins to encourage appetite. Build up mix includes added L-Lysine to promote muscle condition and live Actisaf yeast to aid digestive health. The cereals in Build up mix have been micromanaged cooked to improve digestibility and reduce excitability in the horse who is easily fizzed up. Fully fortified with a comprehensive blend of vitamins and minerals, this mix can be fed on its own without the need to feed a balancer.
Feeding the horse prone to gastric ulcers
With gastric ulcers being highly documented and commonly diagnosed, there are some great horse feeds out there to help the horse who has or is suspected to have gastric ulcers.
UlsaKind Cubes are very low starch and formulated to provide calories for condition (12MJ/kg) whilst being highly sympathetic to the digestive system, even when it is compromised by extreme acidity.
UlsaKind Cubes are ideal in those circumstances where the internal surface of the stomach has been eroded, because they contain very high levels of β-glucans which form a gel and coat the stomach lining with a protective film. The gel-like stomach contents are less likely to splash the upper squamous epithelium in the stomach.
These β-glucans also slow the rate of passage of feed through the stomach and intestines because of the sticky, gel-like consistency of the feed. In the stomach this means that the periods of time when the stomach is empty and therefore highly acidic, are reduced. Because the β-glucans in UlsaKind Cubes bind to sugars in the intestine, their absorption is slowed and the glycaemic index of the feed is lowered.
The TopSpec UlsaKind Cubes formula also contains 1% of a marine-derived ingredient with established buffering properties. This calcium and magnesium-rich substance has been scientifically proven to reduce environmental acidity in the equine stomach (in vitro) for up to six hours.
UlsaKind Cubes are designed to be added to a TopSpec feed balancer or supplement and therefore contain no added vitamins or trace-elements. They are however, enriched with the minerals calcium, sodium and magnesium. The calcium and magnesium sources have a mild, short-term, buffering effect against stomach acid.
Ease & Excel is ideal for promoting weight gain, maintaining condition and supporting performance in all horses and ponies requiring a low starch diet. The high fibre content is rich in superfibres, which are highly digestible and yield large amounts of slow release energy. The fibre sources are also high in the soluble fibre, pectin, which, in acidic conditions like those in the stomach, alters its structure to one that is similar to mucus and has been shown to bind to, and thicken, the stomach mucosa thereby protecting it from acid attack.
The feed is free from cereal flakes and contains Bailey’s Outshine product to produce a high calorie feed which is low in starch and will not make horses excitable.
Ease & Excel is fully balanced with vitamins and Bioplex ® minerals and contains superior levels of antioxidants, from vitamins C, E and Sel-Plex ® selenium, to support healthy muscle function, performance and immunity. The bespoke In-Feed Formula, from Protexin, contains natural antacids, to buffer excess stomach acid, and ingredients to soothe and protect the gut lining.
Feeding the older horse
Often as horses age, they require different nutrients from their feed. Dentition can also prove a problem with some of our older horses finding it hard to chew long fibre.
Saracen Veteran Cubes are manufactured so that they are softer than other traditional nuts, whilst remaining dust free. This will help horses which have trouble chewing due to poor teeth. For these horses with teeth problems, the pencils can be soaked to produce an easily eaten mash.
With the addition of high levels of vegetable oil combined with "Super-fibres" energy in the diet is made available to the horse slowly, thus helping avoid the fizz that can be associated with cereal based diets.
Providing optimum levels of antioxidants through Saracen Veteran Cubes will ensure that the older horse receives the many health benefits provided by the inclusion of antioxidants in the ration including; maintenance of normal metabolic systems and immune function, thus affording the veteran horse the best protection to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle.
Levels of vitamins, minerals and phosphorous are also increased. This high-fibre, high-oil diet, with the addition of four different herbs, remains as palatable and nutritious as ever.
With a blend of soft grass and nutrient rich alfalfa in a light molasses and oil coating, Hi-Fi senior is perfect for those equines with respiratory problems or horses who can no longer chew the longer length of hay or haylage.
Hi-Fi Senior can be soaked with a speedibeet or fibrebeet to add extra calories to help weight gain. This product can also be fed as a hay replacer at the same weight.
Senior Feed Balancer is designed for elderly horses. It combines the benefits of a feed balancer and a joint supplement, in a highly cost-effective way. Senior Feed Balancer includes the scientifically recommended rate of glucosamine in a daily quantity of feed to help maintain mobility. This rate is 10 grams of glucosamine/500kg horse/day.
Senior Feed Balancer is a very palatable ‘Non-Heating’ feed that contains several supplements which provide the levels of micro-nutrients and digestive aids normally only found in high quality specialised supplements. When Senior Feed Balancer is fed there is therefore no need to add any further supplements.
Feeding Senior Feed Balancer helps to maintain muscle development, topline and condition, these often start to decline as horses age.
Senior feed balancer is ideally fed with a chaff such as Hi-Fi Senior or ad-lib hay/haylage and/or turnout.
Fibre Plus Nuggets are chunky, high fibre cubes designed to be fed as a partial forage replacer to horses and ponies of all types at rest or in work. Their crunchy texture and natural fibre content ensure the horse has plenty to chew on and they are easily fed on the ground, or in boredom toys, to encourage natural foraging behaviour.
These low starch, low energy nuggets contain quality protein, mirroring levels found in grass hay, and have no added vitamins and minerals so should ideally be fed alongside additional forage sources and the recommended amount of a balancer or other compound feed, to ensure a fully balanced diet. With extracts of flavours of essential oils, Fibre Plus Nuggets are particularly palatable so are ideal for tempting fussy feeders or convalescents.
For the dentally challenged equine, Fibre Plus Nuggets soften easily in water to provide a useful alternative fibre source when difficulty is experienced consuming hay or haylage. When feeding Fibre Plus Nuggets to replace a significant proportion of a horse’s hay intake, they should preferably be given in small, regular meals to ensure a steady intake of fibre and to encourage chewing and promote healthy digestion.