Apart from the fact that there are no competitions and that none of us can travel away from home for training, everyone’s lockdown situation is different, ranging from no access to your horse at all to “business as usual”, at home. From a feeding point of view, it’s a time of change anyway, as the ground has certainly dried up, grass is coming through and days are longer so many horses are enjoying more pasture time. To help get the balance right, Baileys Horse Feeds have put together this feeding guide for all types of equine.
Whether still in work or not, spring grass is likely to go straight to the waistline so access may need to be controlled to avoid excess weight gain. Be wary of “chucking” these horses out 24/7, especially if they’ve got a history of laminitis, but even if they haven’t. Allowing any horse to become too fat can have long term health effects which are best avoided.
To ensure these horses still get essential nutrients, like protein, vitamins and minerals, that are known to be lacking from even the best pasture, a balancer, like Baileys Lo-Cal, with a small amount of low-calorie Light Chaff, is an ideal option. Because it is fed in such small quantities, the recommended daily amount of Lo-Cal can even be given as a single meal, if you are restricted to one visit to your horse, per day.
Providing a fully balanced diet, like this, will ensure that hoof growth, muscle tone and general good health get the support they need so that, when the workload is able to be picked up, your horse is physically in a better position to adapt to the change, as long as he’s not been allowed to gain too much weight.
Baileys Equine Weight Loss Programme
For comprehensive advice and tips on encouraging weight loss and preventing weight gain, an informative workbook is available from the Baileys web site https://www.baileyshorsefeeds.co.uk/equine-weight-loss
For support and advice from Baileys and owners of good-doers everywhere, join our Equine Weight Loss Group, on Facebook.
Despite the sunshine, some horses are still struggling to put back on the condition they may have lost during the cold wet weather but we may not be inclined to “feed them up”, as we endeavour to keep those who are handling and exercising horses as safe as possible. Low starch, higher calorie feeds are therefore a great option as they deliver the necessary boost, with slow release energy from fibre and oil, which shouldn’t go to horses’ heads.
Look for those which are whole-cereal-free, with a starch content below 10% and, for significant weight gain, a Digestible Energy (DE) level of 12-13MJ/kg or for moderate weight gain, a DE of around 11MJ/kg. Baileys’ new Ease & Excel Cubes are high calorie and low starch, as is Ease & Excel “original”, while Meadow Sweet with Turmeric is slightly lower in calories and Keep Calm offers a soaked option. All have starch contents of between 7% and 8%.
Varying Calorie Levels
If your horse’s workload varies or you simply need a way to gradually decrease his dietary calorie intake, as he has access to more grass, then combining a balancer with your normal mix or cube could be the way ahead, to help keep the overall diet balanced. Choose a balancer formulated for the most appropriate workload, eg Baileys Lo-Cal, for rest or light work, or Baileys Performance Balancer for moderate to hard work, and check the feeding recommendations for your horse, if it were to be the sole bucket feed.
Assuming you normally feed the full recommended amount of your mix/cube, when you start to cut it back, to reduce calorie intake, you are also cutting back on essential nutrients, which the balancer can replace, without unwanted calories. As a guide, if you cut back 25% of what you should be feeding of the mix/cube, you should top up with 25% of the full recommended daily amount of balancer, and so on.
For example, to maintain a fully balanced diet for a 500kg horse in moderate work.
This is a broad guideline and, for some horses, it’s probably worth checking amounts with a feed company nutritionist.
Check out Baileys Horse Feeds’ social media channels for training and advice videos, as well as feeding tips. For friendly practical feeding advice, their helpline is still manned (from home) on 01371 850247 (option 2) or email email@example.com.
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