In our first article we spoke about the significance of treating your horse as an individual and understanding how to assess the condition of your horse prior to establishing a feeding regime.
It is critical to the wellbeing of your horse that first and foremost you attend to the basic husbandry matters. Some of these are:
- Ensure that fresh clean water is available at all times,
- Keep your paddock free of excess manure, especially if your horse is on small acreage,
- Provide shade for your horse,
- Provide dry areas when the paddocks are wet,
- Rug your horse for warmth if it is wet and or cold,
- Rug your horse for protection if it is hot and or humid,
- Brush your horse regularly to stimulate coat condition,
- Trim or re shoe every six to eight weeks,
- Have teeth checked annually,
- Embark upon a regular worming program.
If you can honestly say these things are being done then it is time to address the type of total feeding program you intend to use.
A TOTAL FEED PROGRAM INVOLVES:
- Paddock feed,
- Hay supplement,
- Hard feed supplement
A total feed program must also take into account:
- The breed, age and weight of the horse,
- The level of exercise being given to the horse.
Paddock management is something that appears to be neglected in many cases. It makes sense to get the best out of what grows naturally. Do you know the type and nutritional value of the grasses in your paddocks? Whether or not you know the answer it is important to rest the paddocks if possible, slash long grass to make the pasture more palatable, and fertilise regularly and correctly.
The costs of agronomy advice will be offset by lower feed bills. Manure should be picked up or if this is not practical then some method of spreading manure should be employed. The use of the chemical worming pastes that kill dung beetles should also be avoided.
The statement “effective fibre” is frequently used when discussing the diets of cattle. In wet sub-tropical and tropical areas insufficient attention is given to the use of effective fibre in the equine diet. Horse owners should be aware that based on advice from leading equine nutritionists, for a fibre source to be considered “effective’ it should be a minimum of 5cm long.
At this point there are two issues which need to be raised.
- Pastures high in moisture are very low in Dry Matter (DM) and therefore low in effective fibre,
- Traditional Australian chaffs are short chopped and therefore potentially ineffective as a fibre source.
Hay is a very important nutritional and fibre source and when the day temperatures are high it should be fed in the evening. Some breeds of horses on good pasture will only need to be fed hay with a mineral block available at all times. Remember horses require 1% of their body weight in fibre each day. Grasses in high rainfall areas rarely provide this. Therefore hay as a fibre source is critical.
Hard feed supplement should be fed with a protein level suited to the horse’s age. This feed must also have an energy level (Mj/kg) to match the amount of exercise being given. Hard feed supplement should contain a mineral and vitamin additive. Should you require advice on the correct feed to meet the needs of your horse we are available for individual consultations.
As mentioned in our first article, Mi-Feed produces a range of eleven feeds to suit all types of horses and work levels. We were the first company in Australia to specialise in the micronisation of stockfeeds. This process cooks the grains at very high temperatures under infra-red lamps. This protects the protein and nutrient value in the grain and increases it’s storage capacity. Micronisation changes the structure of the grains to make them easier to digest (up to 20% improvement). Therefore you will not feed as much of our product to get the same results as other traditional feeds. This means you will firstly save money and secondly be able to add more bulk fibre in the form of hay, which aids the digestive process.
All our feeds have a mineral and vitamin pre-mix added for your convenience. This ensures horses on our feeds do not require expensive additives unless there is a stated deficiency as determined by a vet or equine specialist.
In our third article we will discuss in turn each of our eleven feeds explaining how you can select the correct feed for your horse’s needs.