We all have our own way of doing things and with feeding horses, it’s no different. But have you ever considered why you do what you do and whether it’s actually for the right reasons?
I always add chaff or lucerne to my horse’s feed
If your horse is getting ad-lib forage (grass, hay), does he really need extra fibre in his bucket? Half a scoop or so is not providing a significant amount of additional fibre anyway and is merely adding to the overall size of the meal. Since a horse has limited stomach capacity, the overall compound ration should be divided into as many small meals as possible.
However, many of us can only feed twice a day so, if your 500kg horse in light to moderate work needs 3.7kg of commercial compound hard feed (the recommended amount) per day, that’s 1.8kg per feed and will provide potentially too much starch in one feed.
Personally, I would always add in some chaff/fibre if a concentrate (grain or compound feed) is being given because….
it slows down the rate of consumption of the hard feed and promotes more thorough chewing which is better for saliva production. A horse produces far less saliva chowing down a kilo or more of hard feed on its own, as it’s easier for them to eat. This means the gastric acid is not being buffered and too much acidity in the stomach will overwhelm it and can create problems such as ulcers.
Meal Size Guide
Do not exceed a total of 1.6 – 1.8kg per feed for a horse and 1.4 – 1.6kg for a pony (including additional chaff or sugar beet, if fed)
Adding more to it, even fibre, is risking overloading the stomach and feed flowing on into the intestine before it has been properly digested in the stomach. At best this is a waste of feed, at worst it can cause problems when it reaches the hindgut.
Alternative fibre sources can be useful if a horse is a poor forage eater but need to be fed in significant quantities, perhaps in a separate bucket, to replace the fibre the horse is missing out on by not eating forage.
I always add soaked sugar beet pulp to my horse’s feed
Sugar beet pulp is rich in “super fibres”, like hemicellulose and pectin; different from the structural fibre, cellulose, which is abundant in forage. Super fibres are more easily digested than cellulose and yield more energy, so sugar beet pulp is ideal where additional slow-release calories are required but care must be taken with the overall meal size when adding it to other hard feeds (see above).
As far as adding sugar beet as a way of making the meal wet, this can be useful at times, when there’s a risk of the horse dehydrating or not drinking, such as when travelling or at competitions. Normally though, feed shouldn’t need damping if the horse always has access to fresh, clean water. Chewing triggers the horse’s saliva production and the more he chews, the more saliva is produced.
I always feed less than it says on the bag
Feeds are carefully formulated to ensure they deliver all the nutrients and calories a horse requires, alongside forage, within a manageable daily amount. This is calculated according to bodyweight and workload so feeding less could mean a horse misses out on essential nutrients.
If feeding the recommended amount of a compound feed means your horse gets fat or has too much energy, you need to switch to a feed with a lower Digestible Energy (DE) which supplies the required nutrients with fewer calories per scoop. If you still can’t feed what it says on the bag, choose a Fibregenix balancer instead or top up the reduced levels of compound feed with a Fibregenix balancer to ensure your horse receives a fully balanced diet. Balancers, such as Fibregenix Lami Low-Cal, provide essential nutrients, including protein, vitamins and minerals, but minimal calories.
I always feed a hoof supplement
One of the most visible signs that a horse is missing out on essential nutrients, and not receiving a balanced diet, is poor hoof quality. A range of nutrients are necessary for healthy hooves and they include B vitamins, like Biotin, minerals, like zinc and calcium, and amino acids, like methionine. All these should be supplied in the required quantities by the recommended amount of a good quality compound feed or balancer so, if that’s what your horse is getting, you shouldn’t need to add a supplement. It takes 9 to 12 months for new horn to grow from the coronary band to the ground so expecting any improvement in under this time is wishful thinking. Supplementing an already balanced diet is a waste of money and choosing a product that supplies only Biotin is also not particularly useful since a range of nutrients are necessary.
I feed a chaff with added vitamins and minerals to my laminitis-prone pony but don’t actually feed the amount it says on the bag
Just like any complementary compound feed, “chaff-based all-in-one” products are formulated to be fed at certain levels to ensure the horse or pony receives all the nutrients he needs for health and well-being. A scoop here and there may seem like an excellent low-calorie snack, with vitamins and minerals to boot, but will not be providing the recommended daily amount of these essential nutrients so you might as well feed an ordinary low sugar chaff and cut your costs!
A balancer, like Fibregenix Lami Low-Cal, is great for good-doers and those prone to laminitis as it contains essential nutrients, like quality protein, vitamins and minerals, but minimal calories, the bulk of which can be supplied by forage. Fed in small quantities, Lami Low-Cal can give you peace of mind that your horse or pony is receiving the nutritional support he needs whilst you control his calorie/forage intake as necessary. Fibre remains very important to the good-doer, but lower-calorie sources are important, such as coarse, stalky hay as opposed to soft, leafy hay, and controlled access to grazing.
I like to feed a bran mash once a week
Whilst this was once common, it is now considered “bad practice” as it constitutes a sudden change of diet when changes should ideally be made gradually to avoid disrupting the sensitive bacterial population of the horse’s hindgut. Even a “regular” change, ie. a bran mash once a week, is enough to upset the bacterial balance and means the horse’s digestive efficiency is compromised.
Rather than feed a mash when a horse has a day off, reduce the horse’s normal feed by up to half and, if the horse is off work for a while, top the reduced feed up with a Fibregenix balancer, to maintain nutrient levels without the calories, or change to a lower energy feed which can be fed at recommended levels. Modern wheat bran is now devoid of much of the fibre and wheat germ for which it was once valued. Its addition to an already balanced compound ration will unbalance that ration and can upset the calcium: phosphorus ratio which, in turn, can compromise bone tissue formation and integrity, something which is particularly risky in growing youngstock.
I/my horse prefers a muesli mix to a pellet
It’s pretty rare for a horse to have a preference and the vast majority will find pellets equally as palatable as muesli mixes. The ingredients used to make pellets are of the same high quality as those used in muesli mixes but, whilst nutritionally they may be equal, aesthetically to us as humans, muesli will look more palatable. Pellets do have advantages over muesli mixes, particularly for horses with excitable temperaments, since they tend to be lower in starch than their mix equivalent. And, whilst ingredients are of the highest quality, the production process is less costly, so pellets tend to be cheaper! Give it some thought the next time you choose a feed; who are you aiming to please? After all, horses never tire of eating grass!
I need to avoid protein because my horse is fizzy
Riders often worry about protein levels in feed and usually for the wrong reasons, since this nutrient is rarely used by the horse’s body as a source of energy so is unlikely to “heat him up”. Protein is important however, as it supplies essential amino acids which are the building blocks of body tissues, including muscle fibres, so particularly vital for working horses. Since the body’s requirement for protein increases with workload, performance feeds contain more protein and coincidentally more calories, and it is the calories which may affect temperament.
I need to avoid cereals because my horse is fizzy
Having eliminated, or at least identified, any obvious causes of fizzy or fractious behaviour, then consider your horse’s diet. The amount of energy/calories that goes in should equal the amount that he needs for maintenance and work, as any excess will either be laid down as body fat or expressed as excitability or both. For excitable horses who need help maintaining condition, a balancer on its own or alongside a reduced amount of concentrate, plus plenty of good quality, digestible forage is the most effective solution. The important thing with the cereal content is that it must be cooked thoroughly to be as digestible as possible for the horse. Cooking methods like micronising and extruding have now superseded steam flaking as they gelatinise (cook) more of the cereals’ starch content. This reduces the risk of undigested starch reaching the hindgut and causing problems which can include crabby behaviour. Meal sizes must also be kept small for the same reason, whilst forage intake should be a minimum of 1% of body weight to avoid compromising gut function which could lead to colic or gastric ulcers.
Feed manufacturers never suggest that cereals are a replacement for fibre, rather that they are a useful and effective addition to a forage-based diet when fed correctly. Harder working horses, need the readily available glucose cereals supply as fuel for the brain and other organs, thus helping to maintain concentration and stamina. There are now feeds available which contain a blend of energy sources, alongside cooked cereals, with an emphasis on slower release energy, if required. Pellets also tend to be lower in starch than their muesli equivalent so are ideal for the fizzy type.
Whilst your horse may calm down on reduced quantities of a cheap, low energy mix, or on no complementary feed at all, consider his overall condition, health and well-being and whether this is likely to be sustainable as work-load or the demands of performance increase. Many horses “perk up” when their overall plane of nutrition is improved, and they start to feel well in themselves; many will settle again when they become accustomed to the feeling of well-being.
Food for Thought
Hopefully, if any of these situations apply to you, you will give a little thought to your reasoning and consider whether you are feeding entirely for your horse’s benefit. There is nothing wrong with keeping feeding simple; plenty of forage and the manufacturer’s recommended quantity of a compound feed or balancer should be all your horse needs. The key is in choosing the right feed for the job and not adding extras to it just for the sake of it. After all, by streamlining your feed room and making things as cost effective as possible you could free up cash to spend on other things!
There’s an increasing awareness of the possibility of allergies or intolerances to feeds or feed ingredients, among horses, but how prevalent are they?
We’re all aware of the dramatic and potentially drastic reaction that the human body can have to certain foods but true feed allergies in horses are relatively rare. Allergies involve the stimulation of the immune system to react excessively against a certain protein or protein-like molecule (allergen) which would not normally happen in the non-allergic horse. This reaction results in the release of histamines which, when produced to excess, cause symptoms which may vary from sneezing and wheezing to itching, swelling, hives (lumps on the skin) or diarrhoea.
The symptoms of feed allergies can include swelling of the lips and mouth but are more commonly seen as diarrhoea and/or hives, although symptoms alone are not necessarily indicative of an allergic reaction to something the horse ate. Allergies can be hard to diagnose and, in severe cases, a vet may carry out blood and skin tests with varying degrees of success.
A more common occurrence are hypersensitive reactions to substances which do not involve the immune system, and these tend to be referred to as intolerances. They can result in many and varied symptoms which may not necessarily in the first instance, be attributable to a feed-related issue and, as such, can be equally hard to diagnose. Indeed, it’s only in recent years that intolerances to feeds or feed ingredients have become recognised so, although there’s a perception that they are becoming increasingly prevalent among equines, it’s more likely that we are simply more aware of their existence.
Symptoms of a feed intolerance can include, “crabby” or “jumpy” behaviour, hives, dry itchy skin, loose droppings or a tendency to colic, all of which can also be the result of environmental and management issues. Any horse which is uncomfortable in its gut, for example, is likely to be crabby, unsettled and prone to colic so eliminating all which could be causing this can help settle the situation. Stress is a primary factor in gut discomfort and this can have innumerable causes from insufficient turn-out or bullying in the field to travelling, competing over-zealous training; the list goes on.
One common consequence of a “stressed-out” equine is EGUS (Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome) as a result of acid attacking the lining of the horse’s stomach. Any horse prone to ulcers or any digestive discomfort MUST have constant access to forage and the starch content of any supplementary feed should preferably be kept to a minimum. The simple provision of ad-lib forage can help reduce stress levels by satisfying a horse’s physiological need to chew and ensures there is always some food in the stomach to stop the digestive acid reaching areas it shouldn’t.
A constant flow of fibre through the digestive system also ensures that any gases which are produced during digestion are carried through thus avoiding a build-up which could cause colic. Fibre from forage is also essential to maintain a healthy population of gut bacteria, which are also instrumental in its digestion and any imbalance can not only affect digestive efficiency but gut pH (acidity) and symptoms of an imbalance can include, loose droppings, diarrhoea or colic.
Any horses with loose droppings, whether continuously or during times of stress, would benefit from a digestive enhancer such as the pro and prebiotics found in the range of Fibregenix balancers. Live yeast Probiotics can be fed to replenish gut bacteria populations which may have been depleted, whilst prebiotics support the existing populations of beneficial bacteria and help them flourish.
They can either act as a food source which only good bacteria can utilise or by disabling pathogenic bacteria and facilitating their removal. These actions help maintain a healthy bacterial balance, supporting gut efficiency and helping alleviate loose droppings and discomfort.
Scurfy or itchy skin can be a sign of a dietary imbalance and a look at the overall balance of the diet should always be taken before turning to supplements or special feeds in an attempt to alleviate specific symptoms. A fully balanced diet, supplying correct levels of essential vitamins and minerals and quality protein, helps support health and well-being, of which visual signs will include, strong healthy hooves and a shiny coat. Omega 3 oils are also essential for soft supple skin and may be found in a good quality feed balancer such as Fibregenix or can be added to a fully balanced diet in the form of a high oil supplement or straight vegetable oil.
Feeding the recommended amount of a hard feed or Fibregenix balancer alongside forage will ensure the diet is supplying all the nutrients a horse needs for well-being and to support its work. Should problems persist and remain unexplained, then a feed intolerance is possible but the only way to find out what is causing the reaction is to put the horse on an elimination diet. Whilst this can be difficult for the hard-working horse or poorer-doer, it may be the only option and involves cutting out all supplementary feeds and giving just ad-lib forage for a minimum of four weeks.
By this time, unless the cause is within the pasture or forage, symptoms should have subsided and other feed ingredients can be reintroduced one by one until a problem recurs that can be attributable to what has been added to diet. Your vet or feed company nutritionists can help you plan the process and discuss feeds or feed ingredients which you can add separately to aid in the identification of the culprit. It’s entirely possible that the problem is contained within the horse’s grass, hay or haylage but this should become apparent if problems persist despite the elimination of the usual suspects in compound feed.
Since elimination diets can be both time consuming and complicated to exercise, there’s an increasing tendency to assume, not only that an intolerance exists but also that it is due to one or more of a number of commonly implicated ingredients. Feeds are available which avoid these ingredients so offer a potential “quick fix” meaning that neither the specific cause nor any environmental implications are ever addressed. Should an elimination diet result in the recognition of a reaction to a specific ingredient, then such feeds can prove useful in re-establishing a fully balanced diet whilst avoiding intolerance reactions.
Feed ingredients which have been identified as causing hypersensitive reactions include certain cereals, lucerne and molasses. If a horse is truly allergic to any of these, it is a protein which they contain that will be the actual allergen; oils, starch, cellulose or sugars are not allergens and cannot cause an allergic response.
Indeed sugar often receives bad press which is unwarranted since it is both an essential nutrient and a natural component of the horse’s diet because grass has a high sugar content. Feeds which contain molasses are often perceived to be “high sugar” but not only is molasses not 100% sugar (it’s what’s left after the sugar has been extracted, after all!) but it is used in feeds at an inclusion rate of less than 5% so the actual amount of sugar it contributes to a horse’s diet is minimal.
So, while there’s no doubt that horses can be allergic or intolerant to something in their diets, there are other factors to consider when presented with potential symptoms. Ensure your chosen feed products come from a reputable manufacturer as these will contain carefully prepared natural ingredients and are backed by meticulous research to ensure that they provide the very best and safest nutrition for the horse.
HOW CAN I TELL WHETHER MY HORSE IS TOO FAT OR TOO THIN?
It can be difficult to accurately describe your horse’s condition as people can have very different perceptions of what constitutes a fat and or thin horse. The most objective way to assess your horse’s condition is to give him a Body Condition Score, which involves looking at and feeling areas of his body to determine levels of body fat. As a rough guide, you should be able to feel a horse’s ribs but not see them, however, there is much more to consider than that! You can also evaluate your horse’s muscle development and top line as well as using a weigh tape or weighbridge to find his bodyweight.
Download here... Body Condition Scoring
WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO HELP A HORSE LOSE WEIGHT?
Like any human, in order to lose weight, a horse needs to burn more calories than he consumes. The dilemma with horses is that they are designed to eat and chew for at least 18 out of every 24 hours and need a constant flow of fibre through the digestive system in order to stay healthy.
Losing weight is tough and it’s even tougher if you’re an animal like the horse that is designed to spend most of its life eating. Stop your horse eating for too long and you may end up with a horse with serious health and behavioural problems – problems far more serious than nipping out in your pyjamas in the middle of the night to buy a chocolate bar! Let him eat though and you could be dealing with laminitis and obesity. Finding the happy medium is what managing a good doer is all about and hopefully the following tips will help you to keep your horse in good shape both mentally and physically.
The digestive tract of the horse functions most efficiently when it has an almost constant supply of fibrous material to break down. We are all told to eat more fibre to promote regular and healthy bowel movements and the same applies to the horse. Fibre passing through the digestive tract pushes out any gas bubbles that have formed. If the horse is receiving very little to eat to try and control his weight, then the gas can accumulate, causing the gut to become distended which is very painful and may result in colic symptoms. The other problem with enclosing good doers in a stable with very little to eat is the risk of them developing stereotypies or “stable vices”. As horses are herd animals reducing their contact with other horses can cause considerable anxiety and result in problems. It has previously been assumed that boredom was the main reason horses receiving very little fibre started to develop stereotypies as they had long periods of time doing nothing. However, research is suggesting that in fact, some stereotypies are a response to increased acidity in the digestive tract. When the horse chews he produces saliva, which contains bicarbonate that helps to neutralise the acidity in the gut. If a horse isn’t receiving much fibre, he won’t be spending very long chewing and so the gut may remain very acidic. This is the reason antacids are starting to be promoted for use in horses with stereotypical behaviours.
There are several things you can do to try and reduce the risk of these problems occurring. The most important are the basic rules of feeding. We all think that feeding little and often just relates to the concentrate ration but with good-doers it applies to the forage as well. For example, if your horse is a good doer and you put all its hay in at 4 pm and then don’t return until 8 am the next morning, the chances are that your horse will spend from 4.30 pm until 8 am without anything at all. This is really too long to be without some source of fibre and so if you know someone goes to the yard much later, ask them to put a haynet in when they leave. If there really isn’t anyone else to help then try and put the hay in small holed nets, put several nets inside one another and put several nets around the stable so it takes as long as possible for your horse to extract the hay.
In the summer when most horses are enjoying lots of time in the field, the poor old good doer has to spend more time in the stable. It is the safest place for the overweight horse to be in terms of avoiding obesity and laminitis, but it does mean that they miss out on a lot of valuable nutrients that grass contains. Although hay and haylage provide an alternative fibre source for the stabled horse, they do not provide as many nutrients as grass and as many people tend not to feed their good-doer at all in the summer, it can mean that they miss out on certain nutrients. There are various ways to provide these nutrients as most manufacturers now have a feed designed for good-doers. One option is to use a low-calorie balancer such as Fibregenix Lami Low-Cal which provide a concentrated source of nutrients without the calories that are found in a normal mix or cube. These are fed in very small quantities and can be fed with a simple, low-calorie white chaff. An alternative option is to use a chaff-based feed that has added nutrients. These are fed in much larger quantities and can be fed alongside or instead of hay. Whichever type of product you choose it is important to feed the levels recommended by the manufacturer or your horse may still not be receiving the nutrient levels it requires.
I just give my horse a handful of a high fibre, low energy feed to keep him happy?
One of the most common feeding strategies employed by owners of overweight horses and ponies is to give a token offering of a high fibre, low energy feed. As these feeds are designed to be fed in much greater quantities, a handful provides very little of the vitamins and minerals the horse needs and some calories that he doesn’t need. The table below shows the differences in nutrient levels provided by a concentrated balancer which is designed to be fed in small amounts, and a handful of a high fibre, low energy pellet feed product which is designed to be fed in much larger amounts.
Amount provided by 500g of a high fibre, low energy pellet
Amount provided by 500g of Lami Low-Cal balancer
I have a lazy, overweight horse. What do I do?
One of the most common problems with good doers is that they also tend to be lazy. Putting more energy in increases the risk of weight gain which can make the laziness worse. The first objective is to try and get some weight off and then think about trying to generate a bit more energy. Quite often, horses feel better and have more energy once the diet has been balanced as their lethargy was due to a lack of nutrients in the diet. The first step is, therefore, to ensure that the diet is balanced. If this doesn’t generate more energy from your horse, then it is possible to combine a low- calorie balancer with oats. Oats are the cereal most often associated with causing lively behaviour in horses and so adding a few to the diet may produce a livelier horse. Combining the oats with a balancer like Lami Low-Cal means that the balancer provides a balanced diet and so the amount of oats can be adjusted according to the horse’s workload and requirements. When the horse isn’t working as hard the amount of oats can be reduced right down to a handful so that extra calories are not being added when they’re not needed. Make sure that if you try adding oats that you introduce them very slowly as they can have quite a strong effect on some horses and ponies. This feeding regime works very well with competition horses, particularly Warmblood dressage horses, as they are often good-doers but still need lots of energy for the work that they do.
Before and After
If you feel that your horse needs to go on a diet then prepare a fitness and diet plan. It is a good idea to keep a record of your horse’s measurements and so get yourself a weigh tape and measure your horse each week – make sure you are consistent when you measure e.g. at the same time of day and with the tape in the same place each time. Take a photo before you start so that you can refer back to it as small changes day by day are hard to see whereas if you look back after a couple of weeks you should be able to see more of a change. If you have implemented a good exercise programme and a suitable diet you should find that the weight starts to come off.
What is Condition?
Horses carry different proportions of muscle and body fat according to their type and level of fitness or training. It is our aim, as horse owners, to ensure that these proportions are appropriate to the work we are expecting of the horse and adjust his diet and workload accordingly. Body Condition scoring, using a numerical scale where 1 is “poor” and 9 is “obese”, can be a useful way of objectively assessing condition by looking at the horse’s neck, ribs and rump. Ideally, you should be able to feel but not see the ribs and the horse should carry “top line” in the form of muscle not pads of fat, so correct work is imperative to encourage muscle development in the right places.
Whatever method of condition assessment you use, it should be both visual and “hands-on” – you need to feel through a thick coat in the winter, which can cover the true picture, and take a good step back from time to time to look at the whole horse. It is also useful to monitor your horse or pony’s body weight by using a weigh tape or a weighbridge. This will not only help you in your calculation of how much to feed but is particularly useful in assessing progress, especially when you are hoping to make considerable changes to your horse’s condition.
The Right Condition
Having established your horse or pony’s current condition, the next step is to decide whether that is how you would like him to stay or whether you need to make changes in order to help change his condition. For this, you will also need to consider the work the horse is expected to undertake and the level of fitness he needs to attain. A dressage horse, for example, needs stamina and muscle tone for physical effort but may carry more “condition” than a three-day eventer who must gallop and jump.
Show producers are continuously accused of presenting horses and ponies which are carrying too much body fat, in an attempt to ensure they have a “well rounded” appearance. It can be difficult balancing fitness and muscle tone with levels of body fat, but it must be done; an overweight horse risks damage to joints and laminitis, as well as other health issues, and will often simply not exhibit the enthusiasm for work that a slimmer horse can. Those who seem to live on fresh air can be a nightmare to keep weight off but it is possible to maintain a balanced diet and control calorie intake, whilst those who struggle to keep the weight on must be fed with consideration to the limitations of the equine digestive system.
Putting it On
A common approach to promoting weight gain is to feed more of the existing feed or to add straights, such as barley or maize, and gradually the costs mount up but the condition you’re looking for may not. Not only is it unbalancing the ration by adding straight cereals to an already balanced compound feed, but you are also likely to be feeding ever-increasing volumes which the horse’s stomach, with its limited capacity, simply cannot take.
What you risk when feeding large volumes in each feed is that some will pass on out of the stomach and small intestine before it has been fully digested. This presents a couple of problems – firstly the risk of digestive or metabolic upsets, such as colic or even laminitis, as a result of undigested starch reaching parts of the hindgut that it shouldn’t. Secondly, the feed will not be fully utilised so some of its nutrients will be lost, resulting in a simple waste of money! It’s therefore much more efficient, more cost-effective, and safer, to feed for the job in hand by selecting a compound feed formulated for weight gain and condition.
Feeding frequent smaller amounts of a high calorie concentrated feed allows for less starch to be fed in order to promote the desired weight gain.
Oil is another useful concentrated source of calories which is non-heating and helps to increase the energy density of the ration without significantly increasing volume. Specially developed high oil supplements are now available, which are more palatable and less messy than straight oil, and contain the necessary additional antioxidants which are required by the body to help it utilise the oil more efficiently.
The art with promoting weight gain, particularly for the show ring, is knowing when to stop! Continue to monitor your horse’s progress and consider the changing contribution that forage makes as the spring grass comes through – be prepared to alter the diet again to one with a lower energy content once your horse is looking how you want him and finding it easier to maintain his condition during the spring and summer months.
Getting it Off
If your horse or pony is at the other end of the scale and you are always struggling to keep that tummy trim, then a different approach will be required. Feeding less than the recommended quantity of a low energy mix or cube will deprive your horse of essential nutrients needed for health and well-being whilst still providing some calories that he doesn’t need. The fact that your overweight horse is dull and lacklustre may not be so much to do with lack of energy in his diet but with a lack of vitamins and minerals. An ideal solution here is to choose a feed balancer, such as Fibregenix Lami Low-Cal.
This provides a very concentrated source of nutrients without extra calories and enable you to feed a balanced diet to ensure your horse is receiving all the nutrients for overall health and body maintenance. With correct work, you should be able to encourage weight loss, whilst the protein content of the balancer will help promote muscle tone. So, on a fully balanced diet, and losing some weight, your previously dull good doer should develop a brighter outlook on life!
Again, be prepared to change what you are feeding throughout the year to suit the changing weather conditions, routine and workload. For the exceptionally good-doer, a balancer may be an excellent year-round solution whilst for others, once the weight is lost, you may find that as workload increases and the nutrient content of the grass drops off in late summer, you need to reintroduce some calories by choosing a low or medium energy concentrate eg lupins or even oil alongside the balancer.. Remember that keeping things balanced is the key to optimising performance.
The Role of Forage
We all know how important fibre is to maintain gut function and satisfy the horse’s natural requirement to chew, so forage, including hay and grass, will be the basis of a healthy diet but will also make a nutritional contribution which should not be forgotten. For example, feeding forage with a very low nutritional value may mean that even when using the recommended quantities of a compound feed, the overall diet may not be balanced, and this is where a quality balancer such as Fibregenix comes into play. Feeding a good quality hay that is soft and leafy, will ensure that your horse receives plenty of nutrients as well as essential fibre – this is especially important when feeding poorer doers.
However, your fat pony or native cob type, for example, still has the same requirements for fibre and should be fed a clean, dust-free forage that is stalkier, less digestible and lower in nutrients to ensure that fibre intake is not restricted. Creativity is essential when feeding good-doers to ensure that even a limited amount of forage takes them plenty of time to eat; small-holed haynets and one net inside another will keep them occupied, whilst low calorie chaffs offer an alternative source of fibre which also takes up chewing time.
Keeping it Right
Having achieved the level of condition that suits your horse and the work you require of him, careful monitoring will help you make the adjustments necessary to keep him that way. Try to avoid the massive condition fluctuations which may result from any “downtime”, whatever the time of the year, as it will take you longer to achieve your “ideal” again. Keep a watchful eye, or use a weigh tape, and above all, be prepared to alter your regime accordingly to ensure your horse remains on a balanced diet and is fit and healthy to perform.
A horse who is underweight is basically not receiving enough calories from his diet to meet his requirements for work and body maintenance. This could be a case of simply not feeding enough or of not using a feed with a high enough calorie/Digestible Energy (DE) content. Weight loss can be caused by a number of other different factors, for example, problems with teeth and poor worming regimes may cause weight loss, regardless of what or how much you are feeding.
Equally a stressful environment, injury, a horse’s age or extreme heat/cold weather can have an effect. All these aspects of your horse’s management regime should be considered and addressed, where necessary, as changing the diet alone may not provide the solution if the horse is still suffering other problems.
In the wild, horses will use winter to lose some weight in preparation for the inevitable weight gain which occurs in the warmer months when pasture is more available- this is a survival tool which horses today still possess. In most cases, horses will put back on any weight lost over winter naturally with increased time in the paddock and access to spring grass, although some horses can need a helping hand.
Weight gain should be a gradual process and improving your horse’s condition isn’t just about pumping him full of food which may speed up the process but isn’t going to be good for your horse’s health in the long run. Horses are routine animals and their digestive system isn’t suited to rapid changes.
Very often, a look at what you are feeding now will reveal a shortfall, either because your horse is not getting enough feed or because the feed isn’t suitable for the job in hand. In order to increase your horse’s condition, you need to increase the number of calories he consumes, not necessarily the amount he is eating.
And it’s not just the calorie content and digestibility of the feed that counts. Other nutrients like protein, oil, vitamins and minerals, all contribute to the development of the top line, muscle tone and coat shine that go with outstanding condition. The skill lies in selecting ingredients that supply these in the most useful and available form so the horse gains maximum benefit from each mouthful. It is not just a numbers game and high levels of a nutrient, vitamin or mineral are not always the answer, particularly if they are provided in a form that the horse cannot effectively absorb and utilise.
Fats and oils are slow-release energy sources and unlike high starch feeds won’t rapidly increase your horse’s blood sugar levels which can lead to fizzy behaviour. Oils contain 2.25 times the amount of energy (calories) than carbohydrates and can be a great way to increase your horse’s calorie intake without increasing his feed intake.
Feeding a high-quality feed balancer such as Fibregenix that contains the recommended amount of probiotic will help to increase the digestibility of your horse’s fibre which can enable him to get twice as many calories out of the same amount of feed, essentially increasing calorie intake without increasing the amount you are feeding. The superior form of Actisaf live yeast Probiotic in Fibregenix Prime Original and Fibregenix Platinum Pro can also help to support gut health allowing your horses to maximize yield and efficiently absorb nutrients essential for optimal health.
Feeding a fully balanced diet all year round through work, rest or recuperation, will help your horse maintain internal nutrient reserves (not just fat), avoid huge fluctuations in condition and be a credit to you wherever you go.
WHY NOT JUST MORE FIBRE?
If your horse is given ad lib forage, he should be getting all the fibre he needs to keep his digestive system healthy and his mind happy. Complementing this with a comparatively small volume of a Fibregenix balancer is the most effective way to promote weight gain and will suit even the most highly strung of horses.
It’s important to be patient when it comes to increasing your horse’s condition, but when feeding a Fibregenix feed balancer you can expect to see a change within 3 weeks, with many of our customers noticing an improvement in as little as a week to 10 days, but certainly before you finish your first bag. Additionally, investing in a quality balancer such as Fibregenix will help reduce your overall feed bill in the long run.
What should I now feed him on?
If he is prone to being a good do-er feed plenty of fibre but still monitor his weight and give him Lami Low-Cal. You’ll be able to feed the recommended amount of Lami Low-Cal to ensure a balanced diet and healthy horse without encouraging weight gain. We would always recommend Lami Low-Cal for any overweight horse – regardless of their individual circumstances, even broodmares in foal. If he is the type that will stress weight off or lose a lot of muscle then give him Prime Original, or if he is an ‘oldie’ – Platinum Pro.
Per day for a 500kg horse:
500g Fibregenix Platinum Pro
2kg oats (assuming 50% starch) OR 4kg racehorse mix (assuming 25% starch)
7-9kg early cut hay
Unmolassed sugar beet pulp is also a good source of fibre, and will help for condition. When a horse is on an easy day/box rest, the amount of oat/mix can be reduced, increase hay and continue with 500g per day of Pro and oil to maintain weight.
If feeding a straight, cereal oats would be best as they contain the most digestible starch. Obviously they need to be prepared as appropriate. 50% starch means that this 2kg per day of oats is assuming that the starch content of the oats is 50%.
Oil – vegetable is fine, although linseed oil is preferable as it contains the correct ratio of Omega 3: Omega 6. However, any oil will be calorie dense, and will help to promote weight gain and good condition, as well as being an excellent source of long lasting energy to help aid fitness and stamina. It’s not that there isn’t enough oil in Pro, as the oil in Pro is quite adequate to help keep the skin and coat healthy, but the additional oil is instead of feeding additional hard feed that we appreciate harder working horses may require. Oil is just a better way of doing this as it suits the horse’s digestive system.
The jury is out as to whether a yeast probiotic can positively affect the gram positive bacteria (the ones that product acid); however, as the yeast has to pass through the stomach before it gets to work on the hind gut, it is possible that this could help from this point of view. So although we can’t say ‘your horse will not get ulcers when fed on Prime Original’, we can help you to alter your feeding regime accordingly to help reduce the risk, hence reduced amounts of hard feed and lots of fibre, combined with the digestive aids in Fibregenix to generally help to settle the gut.
Yeast is a biological buffer, so takes slightly longer to work than pouring alkaline solution down a horse’s throat. The yeast manipulates the bacterial population in the hind gut, increasing the number of fibre digesters as well as increasing the number of lactate utilising bacteria.
He is in hard work six days a week but I am worried which balancer to put him on as if he is just on fibre and Fibregenix will he get enough energy for his high requirements?
If the horse is overweight with insulin resistance then he should definitely be on Lami Low-Cal. You can increase his fibre and also add some oil, both will provide cool digestible energy. We always suggest simple veggie oil or a cold pressed or equine approved linseed oil. Once the weight has been lost then Plainum Pro is fine as it will help to provide those few ‘extras’ that a hardworking horse needs.
FEEDING FOR BREEDING
What will be the benefits of feeding a Fibregenix Feed balancer to him/her – will I see a big difference?
Youngsters are quite hard to always ‘notice a difference in’, as they will go through their daft growth spurts, and change from looking quite nice to looking like a bum-high lanky giraffe!! Prime Original is absolutely spot-on perfect for them! For a start, it will help to promote even growth rates. You will need to make sure that you increase the amount you are feeding as your youngster grows, so weigh taping fortnightly is a good idea – and just feed alongside a quality protein, high fibre diet such as alfalfa chaff, normal chaff and ad lib hay/haylage/grazing with unmolassed beet pulp if required for additional condition/weight. You shouldn’t need any youngstock mix/growers pellets but if you prefer to then just check and be vigilant for unwanted excessive weight gain. A fibre diet, however, is best for yearlings alongside Fibregenix Liquid Joint & bone RLF to promote strong, dense bone and healthy joints.
I really ought to feed her Lami Low-Cal but I thought she is supposed to be on Prime Original. Will she still get enough of a top up of nutrition for herself and the foal whilst she is on Lami Low-Cal?
We would always recommend Lami Low-Cal for any overweight horse – regardless of their individual circumstances. An overweight broodmare is certainly not ideal – and the last thing we want to do is promote further weight gain, so Lami Low-Cal is definitely the way forward.
Depending on how her weight went over the first 6 months would then determine whether or not to swap her to Prime Original for the last 3 months – if she is still quite a bit overweight then I would suggest continuing with Lami Low-Cal, or if she has lost some weight then she could be swapped to Prime Original as she is likely to lose further weight once she is lactating.
At the end of the day, if she’s still overweight and in foal it’s a good indication that she’ll have plenty to give to the foal once it arrives!
The amount of Lami Low-Cal can always be increased by 100g per day on top of the usual recommended feeding rate for the last 3 months of gestation, but again if the mare is overweight this often isn’t necessary. It’s instinctive to presume a broodmare must need ‘more’, this is why a lot of them are overweight to start with!
GENERAL QUESTIONS ABOUT FIBREGENIX
Horses didn’t evolve to digest large meals and these can bring about problems such as ulcers, colic, stereotypical behaviour, poor digestive health etc -so why not feed a Fibregenix Balancer supplement alongside a reduced hard feed but high fibre diet to help keep your horse happier from the inside out, and suit his digestive system much better? Happier horse = better performance.
With good-doers this becomes difficult as you can’t feed the right amount because they put too much weight on. This is where Lami Low-Cal brings its benefits. You’ll be able to feed the recommended amount of Lami Low-Cal to ensure a balanced diet and healthy horse without encouraging weight gain. Even an obese hairy pony can be deficient in vitamins and minerals. Minimum RDA’s are forever changing, and rely on so many factors including age, workload, breeding status etc. As before = smaller meals & more fibre = happy digestive system = happy, settled horse = good performance.
Whatever the bodyweight is, round up to the nearest 50g; so if you have a horse that weighs 420kg round it up so that he is being fed 450g per day, to ensure that he is getting the right amount of everything. This is particularly important if the weight has come off a weigh tape, as these can often underestimate bodyweight by up to several kg.
If you need to swap from one Fibregenix balancer to another, this can usually be done over 3-4 days, as the appearance of the product is pretty much the same, it’s just the nutritional make-up that is different, and hence 3-4 days is usually adequate. With a particularly sensitive horse we’d advise increasing the balancer to balancer swap to 7-10 days.
Fibre will include hay, chaff, beet pulp, products like Maxisoy, fibre cubes etc – there are many fibre feeds available on the market. The choice is yours, but try and keep it simple with as few products as possible in the diet. Less is more! Remember you may be paying extra for a fortified fibre product ie which contains added vitamins and minerals that is unnecessary when on Fibregemix and straight fibre.
It looks such a small amount compared to the couple of kilos of hard feed I’ve been feeding, is it really enough?
Remember Fibregenix is a balancer supplement, not a hard feed. It is nutrient dense and concentrated. It may not look like much, but it packs a mighty punch! If your fibre levels and quality is good then it should suffice but again consult us to ensure digestible energy levels are being sufficiently met or if you are concerned in any way.
While you’re introducing Fibregenix over the 7-10 days introductory period, we suggest making any changes gradually so you can monitor any weight changes. In a healthy horse at maintenance or light work, there should be no change in weight because of the high levels of probiotic in Fibregenix which enable a horse to get more out of his fibre feeds. However, you may need to increase the level of his fibre intake, again assess on an individual basis. If your horse is in hard work then you can’t just take everything out of the diet and start feeding just fibre and the balancer, the digestible energy required for work needs to be replaced gradually with other suitable fibre based products and smaller amounts of hard feed and/or oil. The key is to maintain the correct level of digestible energy in the diet. You can contact us for dietary advice in this respect. Supplements should also be phased out gradually in the first week of introducing Fibregenix. Remember, make all changes to your horse’s diet a gradual thing – no sudden surprises!
Horses although being essentially fibre fermenters, do have a digestive system that can digest starch just not in huge quantities at one time. Recent research has found that no more than 1g per 1kg of bodyweight in starch should be fed at any one meal for sensitive horses although other research has suggested 2g per kg of bodyweight – If you are unable to do this – try replacing some of that grain/hard feed with Fibregenix Platinum Pro as above and adding in extra oil. Too much starch in one meal can cause a multitude of problems, anything from gas colic to ulcers to hot and fizzy behavior, toxicity in the hindgut leading to laminitis, etc
If you have a horse in hard work/competition and you are currently feeding the daily recommended amount of a processed hard feed, once Fibregenix Platinum Pro is introduced you will be able to reduce hard feed by at least half as the approved probiotic in Pro will make so much more of the fibre in the diet. You can then substitute that portion of hard feed with oil.
Pro has a Digestible Energy of 12.3MJ/kg, comparable with other hard feeds but without the whole cereal and molasses component in it, and also fed at just 100g per 100kg of bodyweight, therefore it’s possible to reduce the amount of hard feed being fed which will cut down on the amount of starch and sugar in the horse’s diet – always better for the horse’s digestive system.
Alternatively, you can also try feeding a ‘straight’ grain such as oats or micronized barley alongside your fibre and Platinum Pro to provide fast release energy – often a better option as you can actually see what you are giving your horse and you are feeding one type of cereal only rather than a combination of two or three as seen so often in complete processed feeds.
Platinum Pro will not make horses ‘hot’ as it contains no whole cereal and no molasses. If you wish to feed an additional cool energy source then feed oil, preferably linseed up to 250ml per day.
Read the labels of that ‘cool’ feed – still formulated with cereals and often molasses added in for palatability. No feed can be considered ‘cool’ when it contains extruded or micronized barley and/or maize – whilst cooking the cereal helps to improve pre-caecal digestion and avoid digestive disturbances, the energy levels provided by cereals could be in excess to requirements leading to either unwanted weight gain or adverse behaviour. Fibregenix balancers are premium quality, whole cereal free and molasses free, providing essential nutrients to complement the fibre based diet. It’s all about helping horses to be fed a more natural diet as nature intended; keeping starch out of the diet or to an absolute minimum and feeding more fibre means a healthier digestive system. Remember, smaller meals & more fibre = happy digestive system = happy, settled horse = good performance.
Where will my horse get his energy from?
In some instances – yes. For example if your horse is in light to moderate work or is on spell then yes, generally he can get his energy/nutritional requirements from his fibre along with a Fibregenix balancer supplement to help balance and maximise his nutrient intake. This is because the digestion of fibre produces volatile fatty acids which can be utilized as an energy source and you can also feed additional oil for a cool energy source if required.
However, all horses and ponies are individuals and some may have greater nutritional requirements than others due to for example a compromised digestive system or having ulcers, so your horse should be assessed on an individual basis, but ultimately a completely fibre diet is preferable and more often than not achievable. Add in the essential nutrients that Fibregenix will provide and you have the ultimate diet for lower energy requirements.
- When you can’t feed the recommended daily serve because your horse will put too much weight on.
- When you don’t want to feed any hard feed as you prefer your horse to have a more fibre based natural diet.
- When your horse has adverse reactions to any cereal/starch in his diet and again needs a more fibre based diet.
- When your horse struggles with condition no matter how much you feed and he has a compromised digestive system eg ulcers
- When your feed room is cluttered with gazillions of tubs, pots and packs of different supplements. (Cut the clutter and use a Fibregenix Feed balancer instead!)
- When you are tired of trying to work out whether you are getting it right or wrong and you want feeding and supplementing your horse to be fuss free with peace of mind.
- When you are fed up with spending a fortune on multiple supplements and would prefer to have all your horse’s supplements catered for in one product.
- When you are looking for a premium product that is formulated to give the best results with no compromise on quality
Surely my horse gets all the vitamins and minerals he needs from his current feed and if he is on a vitamin and mineral supplement too?
There are many specific hard feed/complete feed products on the market e.g. veteran mix/performance mix/leisure mix – these will be specially formulated with that type of horse in mind when it comes to essential nutrients i.e. a leisure mix probably won’t contain the same mg per kg of a mineral that a performance mix does. However, if you don’t feed the recommended daily amount as stated on the bag your horse won’t be getting his recommended daily amount of vitamins and minerals and his diet can end up imbalanced when you start second guessing and adding in other sources of vits/mins and other nutrients. A balancer helps to bridge nutritional gaps by providing nutrients that are going to be esily absorbed and utillised by the horse, rather than providing surpluses which will simply be pee’d or poo’d out or even create potentially toxic levels and imbalanced ratios. Furthermore, a simple vit/min supplement, won’t help when there are condition issues or other digestive problems.
Fibregenix Balancer supplements
- There are a range of Fibregenix balancers for different categories of horses and ponies.
- Not least cost formulated – Fibregenix balancers contain the most bioavailable form of minerals and include a natural vitamin E.
- They provide all essential nutrients but also you’ll find some elements that would be in a hard feed – eg fibre, oils/fats and protein.
- They’re always fed at a rate of 100g/100kg of bodyweight
- They’re 100% molasses free and whole cereal free
- Each balancer contains sophisticated digestive supplement packages which work synergistically with each other to improve digestive function and physiology.
- Small pellet form to ensure all of the product is consumed, powder supplements can all too often be sifted out and are then wasted.
- One product only
- Vitamins and minerals may be of varying quality depending on the cost of the formulation ie some may contain cheap forms of minerals that aren’t well absorbed at al or synthetic forms of vitamins.
- Some may be missing essential amino acids, or include unnecessary non-essential amino acids.
- Always fed in smaller gram quantities so while these supplements can provide a wide range of nutrients, functionality is limited
- May contain unspecified Yeasts or probiotics/prebiotics –often these will be found at minimal levels to minimize formulation costs, or consist of lower strains which makes them less effective. Bear in mind that functional ingredients such as yeast probiotics and prebiotics are one of the most expensive components of a supplement or feed, and there are no specific rules or regulations on how much should be included.
- Often in a powder form which is cheaper to produce than a pelleted balancer. Just remember, if it costs just cents to feed, there’s a reason for it.
There are other ‘cheaper’ balancers out on the market, what’s so special about Fibregenix?
Check your ‘cheaper’ feed balancer against Fibregenix balancers.
- Is it 100% whole cereal free and 100% molasses free?
- Does it contain a hoof improvement supplement?
- Does it contain a correct balance of Omega 3 to Omega 6 from quality sources to support a healthy coat and skin? Ie more Omega 3 than 6, or is it a high Omega 6 product derived from ricebran or canola?
- Does it contain high levels of antioxidants such as a naturally derived form of vitamin E, a protected form of Vitamin C and selenium as selenium yeast?
- Does it contain organic chelate minerals such as glycinates?
- Does it contain the highest strains and maximum levels of live yeast probiotic, MOS & FOS Prebiotic? Is the live yeast probiotic licensed for use in horses?
- Does it contain Nucleotides?
- Is there a range for different categories of horses eg, laminitic types, performance horses, veterans or everyday horses and ponies?
- Does it have tailored levels of the functional ingredients for different categories of horses?
- Is it super low in starch and sugar ie below 12%?
- Is the protein from a highly digestible source or is it from a cheap source such as cottonseed meal?
If your current balancer doesn’t tick every box, then your horse is not being provided with the means to improving his long term health prospects. As I said before, not all balancers are created equal.
- It’s as much about quality as it is about quantity, and we go to great lengths to ensure that only the best quality protein sources are used.
- Protein is composed of individual amino acids, some of which the horse can manufacture from dietary components and others which must be supplied in the diet, known as “essential” amino acids. These include lysine and methionine, which are so important. We add extra to our performance balancer for horses whose requirements are high, like breeding and performance horses.
- The higher the proportion of essential amino acids supplied by a protein source, the better is deemed its quality.
- Protein provides the building blocks of all body tissues, including muscle, tendons, ligaments and hooves. When fed at recommended levels, the protein supplied by our feeds will promote the rounded top line and musculature that makes a Fibregenix supplemented horse stand out.
- Seed meals such as linseed and sunflower found in Fibregenix balancers supply the essential fatty acids Omega 3 and 6, which the horse cannot manufacture for himself, and therefore need to be added to the diet.
- A horse’s natural diet of grass is where he would normally get these fatty acids and grass contains a higher proportion of Omega 3 to 6.
- Due to the way they are digested and metabolised, the calories supplied by seed meals are slow-release and non-heating.
- Fibre is fermented by bacteria in the horse’s hindgut to produce volatile fatty acids which are then used by the body as an energy source. It should be the basis of every horse’s diet and the most cost-effective way to feed it is as preserved forage or fresh pasture.
- Additional digestible fibre from oat hulls, wheat husks and Lucerne, is found in all the Fibregenix balancer supplement range.
Vitamins and Minerals
- The balance of vitamins and minerals in Fibregenix balancers is carefully formulated to ensure that a horse receives all he needs to bridge nutritional gaps in the diet when fed at recommended levels.
- Certain chelated minerals are included in all our balancers at tailored levels to support horses’ varying nutritional demands. “Chelating” is a process whereby minerals are attached to other molecules, eg proteins or simple sugars, and helps the body absorb and utilise them more easily.
- The specific chelate forms found in Fibregenix are unrivalled in their bioavailability and are utilised by the horse in a completely different way to other types of chelates.
- Many vitamins and minerals act as antioxidants, protecting body cells from free radicals produced through metabolism and natural body processes. Fibregenix balancers contain these antioxidant vitamins and minerals at levels to support health and well-being as well as performance.
- Selenium is an important antioxidant and Alkosel organic selenium yeast is more readily available than other forms of this trace mineral.
- This collective term refers to ingredients like Actisaf Live Probiotic yeast, purified nucleotides and MOS & FOS prebiotics which are included to help promote gut efficiency.
- Actisaf live probiotic yeast is included for its unrivalled ability in stimulating fibre digesting bacteria in the horse’s hindgut. Maximum benefit is gained when it is included in the diet daily.
- Safmannan MOS acts as a food source for beneficial gut bacteria so that they can flourish at the expense of pathogenic species.
- Profeed FOS is a unique short chain fructo-oligosaccharide which can positively modify the gut microflora, enhance digestive health and help reduce the risk of digestive upsets as well as helping to strengthen the immune system and help to improve insulin sensitivity in the obese horse or pony.
- Ascogen purified nucleotides have many far-reaching effects in the body, helping to increase nutrient absorption and red blood cell production to assist in stamina and performance as well as having a positive influence on immunity.
- A non-heating feed is one that is less likely to produce excitable behaviour in some horses and ponies when fed at the recommended rate.
Nucleotides are nucleic acid, and are the building blocks of DNA and RNA, so any cell that replicates (which is pretty much all cells!) will replicate DNA and RNA to do so – i.e. repair from an injury/improving the villi that line the digestive tract to aid nutrient absorption/aid the repair of the laminae following laminitis – nucleotides help speed this process up. As nucleotides will improve the production of red blood cells it also means more oxygen to working muscles = reducing lactic acid production = promoting fitness and stamina = reducing recovery rates.
Prime Original and Lami Low-Cal contain no added iron in their formulations. There will be some background iron but not a huge quantity. It is included in Platinum Pro’s formulation as it forms part of the blood building package necessary for horses in hard work.
Is a Fibregenix balancer supplement safe to feed given that it contains wheat husks and oat hulls?
Remember that Glucose is present and constitutes part of the make up in all feedstuffs! However, the gluten in cereals is all in the grain so oat hulls and wheat husks will have miniscule gluten contents as it is from the hull of these cereals.
Mg/I.U – mg is a measure mass and iu is an international measure of biological effect. So…… 1mg of any vitamin will always be the same mass ie 1mg. However, as iu measures biological effect, 1iu of vitamin E will have a different mass to 1iu of vitamin A so, mg do not equate to iu. Brain imploding at this?
The key thing to note here is the form of the vitamin ie our Vitamin E is comprised of tocopherol rich extracts that are far better absorbed than other ‘natural’ vitamin E or chemically synthesised Vitamin E where only one of four isomers is absorbed. Form defines function!
Although chromium does assist in the regulation of sugar levels in humans there is no research that indicates that horses are deficient in it hence it is not added in Lami Low-Cal. It is generally accepted that additional research is required to determine the efficacy of chromium supplements particularly in the management of insulin resistance
I know it says 8.8% NSC (starch and WSC/ESC sugars) but how much does that equate to in grams?
Percentage is always of the finished product, so 8.8% starch and sugar combined (NSC) = 8.8g per 100g Lami Low-Cal, so when feeding 500g you would calculate 8.8g x 5 = 44g starch and sugar per 500g Lami Low-Cal. This is an incredibly low amount of starch, when you think that it’s being fed to a 500kg horse, 44g is pretty much irrelevant. A standard horse feed can be as much as 35% plus of starch, and for a 500kg horse you’d probably have to feed 3kg as per the manufacture’s recommendation, which would work out at over 1kg of starch! Not ideal for your horses starch sensitive digestive system….
The sepiolite clay works in conjunction with the MOS & FOS Prebiotic, to help reduce the toxin load within the gut – you can imagine it as a ‘buffer’ against the toxins that can be released if the gut becomes too acidic and kills the good bacteria off – so the clay helps to aid the recovery of the gut following acidification as well as helping to prevent it in the future.
Firstly, the protein in both these balancers is fed in grams not kilograms so the amount does not equate to an extortionate amount of protein, just the amino acids that the horse requires on a daily basis. Secondly, there is also a difference between crude protein and digestible protein. Digestible protein is the figure we are interested in and Fibregenix balancer supplements are formulated to ensure that the balance of digestible protein to carbs and fats is correct.
The “percent crude protein” found on the labels of feeds and supplements is a calculation of the nitrogen content of the product. Nitrogen is contained in the amino acids that serve as the building blocks of proteins. The word “crude” means that not all the protein reported by this number is digestible.
It’s estimated that between 2% – 5% of many common protein sources are not absorbed. While the percent crude protein number is helpful, it shouldn’t be the sole piece of information used when choosing a feed or supplement for your horse.
For instance, crude protein percentage does not tell you the source of protein contained in the feedstuff or the amino acid makeup of that protein, so is more useful when combined with information on the type of protein included in a product.
Proteins are the building blocks of muscle and are essential in a horse’s diet and the horse will only use what it needs and the excess will be passed in urine, but this depends on the horse’s ‘system’ and how well it is absorbed and utilized etc. However, as with most other things it is not just the quantity that is important but also the quality, and a quality protein source will be easily digested and have an amino acid profile similar to that needed by the horse.
Fibregenix contains high quality protein sources with the best amino acid profile and availability for horses derived from Full Fat Soya and dehulled soya bean meal. Knowledge of the lysine and methionine content (the essential limiting amino acids) of a protein source is necessary when properly balancing your horse’s diet. Some labels will include these percentages but knowing what ingredients are good sources of lysine and methionine and identifying those sources in the ingredient list will also help to make an informed decision.
Fibregenix will not make horses ‘hot’ – the main reasons being 1) it is whole-cereal and molasses free so contains super low levels of sugar and starch (which are the 2 main ingredients that cause fizzy behaviour), 2) each balancer contains generous levels of magnesium – the anti-stress mineral – to help keep horses and ponies settled and relaxed, and as each balancer contains digestive aids they help to soothe from the inside-out (a lot of ‘hot and fizzy’ behaviour is caused by poor digestive health).
Prime Original doesn’t contain a MOS & FOS prebiotic as it is intended for horses and ponies that are in light-medium work, being spelled or those that simply need to gain weight which the live yeast probiotic and nucleotides combination helps to encourage. The live yeast probiotic in Prime Original helps to settle the gut by promoting the beneficial bacteria and improving fibre digestion, but if a horse/pony had a specific digestive upset/had been on antibiotics then I would recommend feeding Platinum Pro to start with then swapping on to Prime Original.
In general terms, a horse that is being fed Prime Original doesn’t have the requirement for a prebiotic due to its lighter workload and potentially less stressful life circumstances, whereas a harder working/older horse does – hence the reason we would feed them Platinum Pro.
The Difference with Fibregenix in a Fibre Diet
|Fibregenix balancer supplement||Hard feeds||Other perceived balancer products|
|Specific tailored range||👍||❌||❌|
|High quality digestible protein source providing essential amino acids||👍||❌||Can vary|
|Chelate minerals include glycinate forms for superior bioavailability||👍||❌||❌|
|Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids||👍||❌||Some have Omega 6|
|Protected forms of antioxidants||👍||❌||❌|
|Purified nucleotide supplement||👍||❌||❌|
|Protected Actisaf live yeast probiotic||👍||❌||❌|