Feeding the Good Doer this Winter
During the summer months, many of our horses are able to maintain an ideal bodyweight on forage alone and for some, this continues through the winter months too but it is really important we still make sure they receive a balanced diet (inclusive of essential vitamins and minerals), which will not be provided by forage alone. So, how do we do this?
When feeding, energy and calories are the same thing so, the higher the energy, the more calories the feed will contain. Energy will be written on the feed bag as Digestible Energy (DE) and will be measured in Mega Joules per Kilo (MJ/Kg). A DE level of 7-8MJ/Kg will be classed as a low energy feed, so, for the good doers out there this winter, a feed with this energy content would be most suited to avoid unwanted weight gain. Forage choice will also go a long way in ensuring your horse doesn’t pile on the pounds, as an example, hay would be a lower calorie choice compared to haylage and soaking hay can reduce the calories even further. Generally, it is advised to soak the hay for around 12 hours for maximum effect in order to leach out the soluble carbohydrates, reducing the calorie level; however, during the cold spells with freezing temperatures, soaking for 3-4 hours would be sufficient. This also applies if you’re rushed for time – at some point, we can all end up chasing our tails whether it be getting to work on time, getting the kids to where they need to be or even taking care of other animals. So, soaking for a short amount of time is better than not soaking at all!
Feeds for Good Doers:
Those holding weight a bit too well can also be at a greater risk of veterinary conditions such as laminitis – if your horse does suffer from laminitis, it is advisable to provide them with a feed containing a combined starch and sugar level of below 10%. Fast Fibre has a combined starch and sugar level of 7.5% so well below the 10% guideline as does Veteran Light with a level of 8.5%.
Fast Fibre is a great low calorie bucket feed which provides the horse with a full balanced diet when fed according to body weight and workload. It is also ideal for providing larger looking meals for the good doers due to the soak, resulting in a mash. Fast Fibre can be also be used as a partial hay replacement if you have an older horse who struggles to manage hay or even if you have a hay shortage so want to make your hay last longer. A blend of prebiotics is also included in Fast Fibre’s formulation to aid digestive health and well-being.
Veteran Light is ideal for the older horses and being a veteran feed will contain some helpful added extras such as an elevated protein level, vitamin E & C along with a blend of prebiotics and a probiotic for digestive health.
Both of these feeds are quick and easy to prepare, soaking in 30-60 seconds so owners can ensure their horse’s feed is always fresh! Some horses can be reluctant to drink enough water – this can be very common in older horse, so providing a soaked feed will increase water intake aiding hydration and a healthy digestive system. Warm water can be used to soak the feed which will release a tasty aroma as we only use natural herbs for a natural flavour!