Allen and Page Quality Horse Feeds
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Feeding Glossary

Nutritional terms and feed company 'jargon' used to describe and analyse horse feed products can sometimes seem confusing. Here are some explanations as to what some of these terms mean listed alphabetically: 

Alfalfa
Alfalfa is an important member of the Legume family, which are a family of agricultural plants that have very deep roots. Alfalfa's deep roots contain lots of useful minerals for your horse or pony, much more than normal grass or hay. Alfalfa is very popular in horse feed because it is great source of protein and other minerals that are great for your horse or pony's health. It also has a high fibre content and relatively low fructan levels making it ideal for equines that are prone to laminitis. As with all sources of feed from mixes and nuts to hay the level of energy totally depends on where it comes from. Where and how feed ingredients are grown will produce slightly different energy levels, but in general Alfalfa will suit a horse or pony that is in light to medium work. For the vast majority of horses and ponies Alfalfa is a great source of nutrients, however some equines may react badly if they are intolerant to it. Intolerance means their bodies don’t like what is in the food. Bad reactions could beanything from lumps on the skin to your horse becoming hyper on it with behavioural problems. It may also be inappropriate for a horse on a low protein diet, this may be the case for horses with liver problems. If you think your horse or pony has an Alfalfa intolerance you should gradually reduce the amount of feed your horse receives with Alfalfa in, until your horse isn’t getting any at all and then see if the problems get better. Remember never to make sudden changes to your horses diet.

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Chaff
Traditionally made from oat straw and often has molasses added to it to make it more palatable. Chaffs made from alfalfa and alfalfa and straw mixes are available as are chaffs made from dried grass. Chaff is added to feed to make it last longer, especially for good doers that do not receive much feed and also to slow down the rate of eating. Horses that tend to eat very quickly can be prone to choke and adding chaff will help to slow them down and encourage them to chew their feed really well. Chaff also adds some extra fibre to the diet which is beneficial to all horses and ponies to help keep their digestive systems healthy.Oat straw chaff is low in calories and is ideal for good doers, Alfalfa chaffs can be useful for horses that are working harder or for those that need to put on weight. The dried grass type chaffs tend to be quite high in energy and are also useful for horses that are working hard. Older horses and ponies who’s teeth may not be in such good condition and cannot chew hay can often manage chaff and this is a good way of ensuring that they still get plenty of fibre in their diet.

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DE (or Digestible Energy Level)
This is the energy level of the feed after digestion and therefore the energy available to the horse for maintenance and exercise. It is important to remember that energy and calories are basically the same thing so feeding a higher energy feed will mean that your horse is receiving more calories.

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Fibre
Fibre is very important to the horse to keep its digestive system healthy and functioning correctly. High fibre feeds tend to be lower in starch which means they are a better choice for horses that tend to be excitable or fizzy.

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High Fibre Cubes
These are a high fibre, low sugar, low starch product, some typical ingredients you would expect to find included in high fibre cubes are wheatfeed, oat fibre, grass and alfalfa. High Fibre Cubes are a very versatile product, they can be used for good doers and natives as usually they tend to be low in calories, they are often a suitable feed for very fizzy horses and ponies that perhaps tend to get too excitable even on a low energy mix, they can be used for horses prone to ‘tying up’ or azoturia who need a high fibre but low starch diet. They are also very useful for older horses and ponies who may struggle to eat hay because their teeth may not be in such great condition and need their fibre intake topping up. Fibre is essential to horses and ponies to help keep their digestive systems healthy and functioning correctly and if your horse or pony does not each much hay or haylage adding some high fibre cubes to their diet is a good way to increase their fibre intake. High Fibre Cubes should have plenty of water added to them before feeding this is because being a high fibre product they will expand just as cereal does when you add milk to it.

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Maize
Maize is a cereal just like oats and barley and is the ingredient that looks a bit like corn flakes in your pony’s mix, in fact in America maize is commonly called corn. Maize is usually fed flaked or micronised to improve its digestibility. Flaking means that the maize has been cooked in steam, whilst micronising involves cooking the maize at high temperatures and then rolling it. Maize is higher in starch than the other cereals and is low in fibre making it very energy dense and in fact maize has the highest energy levels of all the cereals and contains twice as much energy as the same volume of oats. Care should be taken when feeding maize, as with any cereal, not to feed large quantities at any one time, starchy feeds like maize are digested in the small intestine but if a horse eats too much of them at a time, some of the undigested feed may enter the large intestine (which usually digests fibre) and this will upset the balance of good bacteria in the large intestine which can lead to digestive upsets such as colic and laminitis. Maize is a good source of vitamin A needed for good eyesight, growth and formation of tissue, but it is a poor source of protein.

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Oats
Oats have been the traditional feed for horses until the introduction of mixes and pelleted feeds approximately 40 years ago . This was because they are easy to feed, oats can be fed whole – unlike other cereals they do not need to be micronised (cooked) before feeding. Oats are the highest in fibre and contain the least amount of energy when compared to other cereals such as barley and maize and because of this are not as likely to make horses and ponies fizzy or hyper as we commonly believe that they do. Nowadays oats are most likely to be fed to horses that are working hard such as racehorses and eventers, although they are often in small quantities to a horse’s existing feed to give a little more ‘oomph’. The disadvantage of oats is that they tend to be very low in calcium but high in phosphorous. Calcium is needed by all horses, especially youngsters and brood mares, to maintain healthy bones, but too much phosphorous in the diet will prevent the horse from absorbing calcium. This is why oats should not be fed on their own to youngsters and brood mares, but if oats are fed with other feed stuffs that are high in calcium such as alfalfa, sugar beet pulp or a specially designed supplement these problems can be avoided.

Oats are available in several different forms:
Whole oats:These oats are exactly the same as when they have been harvested, but they can be difficult to chew for horses that have teeth problems
Rolled oats:The fibrous outer layer is broken to make the oats easier to digest.
Bruised oats:This is similar to rolling, but both rolling and bruising will mean that the oats will have a shorter shelf life.
Naked oats:These oats do not have the fibrous outer husk which means that they are much higher in energy than standard oats and are suitable for horses in hard work.

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Oil
Allen & Page feeds contain Omega 3 and Omega 6 oils from linseed and non GM, organic soya oil. Omega 3 oils are essential for keeping skin cells healthy and to help promote a shiny coat. Oil also provides a good source of slow release energy which is less likely to cause excitable behaviour and can help to improve condition and stamina levels.

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Protein
Protein is needed by the horse for growth and repair of new cells and tissues, the production of muscle tissue and for growing youngsters. Quality of protein is just as important as quantity of protein and all Allen & Page feeds contain high quality protein, that is they contain good levels of amino acids (the building blocks of proteins). Various old wives tales surround protein, however it is not responsible for laminitis, tying up or fizzy behaviour.

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Probiotics
Probiotics enhance digestion by improving the balance of beneficial bacteria in the intestinal tract. Giving a maintenance dose on a continuous basis can also be useful in maintaining a healthy digestive system and may help to prevent diseases by stimulating the immune system.

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Starch
Starch is made up of non structural carbohydrates which are broken down by the horse in the small intestine to provide energy. Generally this energy is fast release energy which provides a sudden burst of energy and is essential for horses that are working hard, however in some horses this can cause excitable behaviour. Therefore, if your horse has a tendency to be fizzy or ‘heat up’ it is better to choose a feed with a low starch content and higher fibre and oil levels to provide the necessary energy in a slow release form.

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Vitamins & Minerals
The vitamins we use are not gelatine coated - a pork by product which is commonly used for this purpose.We only use natural vitamins and minerals in our feeds and do not use gelatine coating for our vitamins – a pork by product which is commonly used for this purpose. All Allen & Page feeds contain a full range of vitamins and minerals to help keep your horse healthy.

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Allen & Page Horse Feeds, Norfolk Mill, Shipdham, Thetford, Norfolk IP25 7SD Tel: +44 (0)1362 822900 Email: helpline@allenandpage.co.uk
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