When formulating a winter feeding plan it is sensible to make sure we are feeding cost-effectively. The best value feed for horses is grass. Luckily the majority of horses and ponies can have a diet based on grass in the summer, and on hay or haylage in the winter or when stabled. When a horse is stabled sufficient hay/haylage should be fed to satisfy his appetite and keep him occupied; that is ad-lib.
Feeding ad-lib means feeding the amount that results in just a bird’s nest of forage left when you next offer a fresh supply. To make the most of the forage that a horse eats it is important that he digests it efficiently. Efficient digestion means that a horse utilises as many nutrients as possible from his forage which reduces the amount of hard feed he will need to meet his requirements for maintenance, work and condition. This means we can feed him an improved forage to concentrate ratio.
l How do we improve the forage to concentrate ratio?
The first step to take when trying to improve a horse’s forage to concentrate ratio is to feed a top specification feed balancer e.g. TopSpec Comprehensive Feed Balancer. TopSpec Comprehensive Feed Balancer contains concentrated amounts of nutrients and yeast products in a small amount of feed; this reduces the weight of concentrates that need to be fed in three ways: –
1) The micronutrients (amino-acids, minerals and vitamins)
in TopSpec Comprehensive Feed Balancer balance the forage and straights in a ration, improving their utilisation and thus reducing the requirement for extra hard feed.
2) The yeast products in TopSpec Comprehensive Feed Balancer improve the digestibility of fibre in the hindgut, allowing the horse to gain more nutritional benefit from the forage part of the diet.
3) Because TopSpec Comprehensive Feed Balancer is so nutrient dense you are feeding less
concentrate, making room in the horse’s digestive system for more forage, thus improving the forage to concentrate ratio
For help formulating a winter feeding plan for your horse call our multiple-award-winning helpline on 01845 565 030 or go to www.topspec.com