Equine_Equine-Nutrition

Frequently Asked Questions

The key to feeding and managing a horse with Laminitis is avoiding feeds that are high in soluble sugars and starch whilst still providing the horse with adequate energy that it requires. Feeds that are high in soluble sugars and starch include not only grain based concentrates but also pastures that are present on many equine properties in New Zealand. Ideally, ponies prone to laminitis should be kept off these feeds and instead maintained on a feed low in starch and soluble sugar such as FiberEzy®. The combination of the equine specialty grass Timothy and lucerne present in FiberEzy® is safe for all horses, especially those suffering from diseases such as Laminitis.

Gastric (stomach) ulceration is a complex issue that is unfortunately caused by, at least in part, the way we manage horses. In the wild, horses were allowed to continuously graze on forage materials whilst also being in an environment that didn’t cause too much on-going stress. Since domesticating them we have asked certain things of our horses like needing to jump fences, run fast and for long periods of time and engage in manoeuvres that may be unnatural to them. We also keep them in confined areas for long periods of time and don’t always give them free range access to forage. Luckily gastric ulcers are, however, something that can be managed within the diet of the horse. In scientific trials, feeding FiberProtect® or FiberEdge® to horses that were both spelling and in training, has been shown to assist in promoting healthy stomach condition*.

No, lucerne, such as is present in all Fiber Fresh products, is a non-heating, safe form of energy and protein that is suitable for all horses. Being a fibre feed, lucerne is predominantly digested in the hindgut under slow release pathways that gives the horse sustained energy for health and performance. Even more, because Fiber Fresh products are so easily digested it enables you to cut back on other feeds and sometimes reduce the total amount you are feeding, saving you money and optimising the digestive health of your horse. As all Fiber Fresh products are fermented, the sugar is used up by the bacteria in the process giving all Fiber Fresh forage products low starch and soluble sugar values.

No.  In fact, oats are the safest grain to feed to horses, despite receiving a bad publicity over the years.  Oats, like those present in FiberMix® and FiberEdge® contain the lowest levels of starch and soluble sugars of any cereal grain making them in a lot of ways the best grain to feed to horses, especially if your horse is excitable or prone to being ‘fizzy’.

It is not likely any forage would cause this type of reaction. Sometimes on high protein diets (e.g. when grass is in flush in spring and autumn) some horses show a type of nettle rash protein allergy. However, this is often due to a sudden rise in protein, as occurs in rapidly growing pasture, rather than a consistently fed diet. Larger lumps may be caused by other factors and should be seen by a Veterinarian.

 

General Nutrition

All Fiber Fresh products can be of benefit to help condition the horse and keep weight on.  However, for a little bit extra why not try FiberSure® which contains 30% Captured Grain®, 70% (lucerne) as well as a vitamin and mineral balancer to ensure complete nutrition and can be fed on its own or as a base of the diet.

There is really no other forage that compares with lucerne in terms of its energy, protein and overall nutrient composition.  The unique fermentation process that all Fiber Fresh products go under means that the horse can get the most from their feed when compared with dried forms of the same plants.  Feeding Fiber Fresh products also ensures your horse stays well hydrated which is vital at all times but especially when the horse is travelling or at an event where they may not be interested in drinking.  Research has shown that even though horses drink less whilst eating Fiber Fresh products than traditional dried chaff, they will be better hydrated.

As a general rule, horses are required to eat anywhere from 2%-3.5% of their bodyweight in dry matter a day.  It is well accepted that forage needs to make up at least half of this and total forage intake should always be at least 1%-1.5% of the horse’s bodyweight to maintain optimal gastrointestinal health.  For a 500 kg horse, this would equate to between 5kg – 7.5 kg of forage (DM basis) per day.  If this is not provided, the gastrointestinal health and function of the horse may be compromised and digestive complications such as colic and hindgut acidosis may occur.

The horse evolved as a grazing animal, nibbling on forages all day long.  It is important to try and mimic this as much as possible with our modern feeding practices.  Where possible it is best to split hard feeds into at least two to three feeds per day especially if they have a large grain component.  The horse has a small stomach so giving them one big meal a day is not only dangerous for their health but may also be a waste of money and time.  If feeding a grain-based concentrate it is important that as a general rule no more than 1-2 kg of these types of feed should be fed per feed and at least half of the meal (by weight not volume) should be in the form of forage.  In between meals, horses should always have access to quality forage sources and fresh water.

 

Breeding

The most important nutrients for your growing horse are protein, energy and ensuring the correct balance of minerals and vitamins.  Take the guess work out of this by providing a complete feed like FiberSure®. This will provide a good level of quality protein and the correct amounts and proportions of all the minerals and vitamins the young growing horse requires such as Calcium and Phosphorous.  FiberSure® will provide a constant growth rate and help avoid spikes in growth rates that can be attributable to some Developmental Orthopaedic Diseases such as Physitis and OCD.

Like the growing horse, your broodmare also requires good levels of quality protein and, apart from the racehorse in very heavy work, has higher nutrient requirements than any other class of horse.  Despite this, the nutrition of our broodmares is sometimes overlooked.  Look to FiberProtect® or FiberEzy® for your mare as a base forage on which to build your ration or use FiberSure® to take the guess work out of feeding your broodmare and provide her with all the nutrients she requires in the correct proportion.  Don’t forget to keep feeding her once she has had the foal as her nutrient requirements increase once the foal is on the ground and she begins to nurse her foal.

It is important to put your stallion onto a feeding programme that is increasing his plane of nutrition coming into the breeding season.  Stallions should start the breeding season 1 – 2 body condition scores higher than their ideal weight as they will expend extra energy during the season.  You can use any of the Fiber Fresh feeds, including FiberSure® and FiberEdge®, however, the higher energy in FiberMix® would make an ideal base forage for your stallion.

Whilst grass and meadow hay are generally good sources of fibre, it has a lower energy and protein value compared to any of the Fiber Fresh products.  They offer not only superior energy but also very good quality protein, calcium, and the first limiting amino acid lysine.  Research has proven that the amino acids in FiberProtect® are better digested when compared with traditional dry lucerne chaff.

 

Performance

To build and maintain top-line and assist with muscle recovery and development, a diet high in quality protein is necessary.  All of Fiber Fresh products contain lucerne in its most highly digestible form, making it the perfect feed for top-line and muscle development.  FiberProtect® is recommended as it contains the highest level of quality protein than any other known forage feed.  Other improvements you can expect to see include reduced hay belly and improved coat and hoof condition.