Types Of Feed ~ feeding guidelines ~ additives etc.

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Types Of Feed ~ feeding guidelines ~ additives etc.

Post by Admin on Sun Dec 09, 2007 8:58 pm

Types of Feed

Feeds for horses can be divided into, forages, concentrates and additives. As the gastrointestinal system is adapted for high fibre/forage diets it is important that of the feed given a large proportion should be forage. Without adequate forage proportions, the horse is much more prone to medical conditions such as, stomach ulcers, inflamed intestines and some forms of colic.

Today's horse dietary needs are greatly influenced by the type of horse and the lifestyle demands made upon it. The most important aspect of any animal's food intake is to make sure that the main percentage of feed given comprises of good quality forage.

Each horse should be treated as an individual. By monitoring feed intake and body condition closely, optimum condition and a healthy happy horse is easily obtained.



Feeding Guidelines

Adult horses dietary needs are generally easily met, but those in hard work will need an increased energy content to the feed but rarely require an increase in protein levels. Supplementing with vegetable oils and increasing the concentrate ration, while still offering forage, can easily achieve this.



Pregnant mares in the last trimester require increased protein content and must have readily available minerals, vitamins and salts in balanced amounts. These requirements are usually met by a good quality broodmare pellet or mix. Mares with newborn foals have similar requirements but need a higher energy value, as the energy used up from producing milk in the first few months is extremely high.

Geriatric Horses (>20yrs) require careful consideration with respect to their feeding. They require highly digestible energy feed due to the decreased efficiency of their digestive tract, they also tend to have dental problems thus food should be highly palatable and easily chewable. Feed may need to be soaked or given in small regular amounts to safe guard against the risk of developing 'choke' or impaction colic.

Young stock have high protein, energy, vitamin and mineral requirements which are best formulated in a balanced ration by a commercially produced feed, with forage given ad lib.

Forages

This is comprised of grasses and its derivatives: hays, haylages, chaff and occasionally straw (not a high nutritional component but good fibre source).



Good quality grass should provide all the nutritional needs of the horse in light work or on pasture rest. Additional nutrition should be given by including good quality hays and haylages. Hays and haylage provide more concentrated higher nutritional value forage, and have the advantage of being easily stored from one year to the next.

Horses are trickle feeders and should have access to forage feed during most of their non-active hours. This may be fresh grass, hay, haylage or straw as appropriate or required.

Additives

These are used to boost mineral, salt and energy content of the daily ration, and include mineral additives, salts and oils. They are especially important when feeding concentrates in a 'straight' form in order to provide a balanced ration. Most commercially produced pellets and mixed feed are balanced for mineral and salt content thus making further additions unnecessary. In growing young stock it is important not to cause imbalances in the mineral content of feed by over-supplementation, especially important for the calcium/ phosphorus ratios. Imbalances can be very harmful to healthy growth and development.



Concentrates

These include pellet hard feed, mixed grain feeds, straight oats, barley and maize. They are given in a straight or in a mixed form and are used to increase the protein percentage and general energy of the horse's intake. They should be used for the horse in medium to heavy work, late pregnant mares, nursing mares or growing young stock, all of which require an increased protein and energy intake.

When they are given, concentrates should be offered in small amounts at regular intervals rather than all in one feed.


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