Types of Equine Feedstuffs
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- The best combination of cereals to supply energy in the form of soluble carbohydrates (starch) is utilised in the Badminton Horse Feeds’ range. Most cereals are cooked or processed to increase the digestibility of starch. Cereals grains contain mostly poor quality protein and these deficiencies are corrected by the addition of good quality protein sources such as soya. These energy sources are mainly quick release energy and include: Micronized Maize; Micronized Barley; Extruded Barley; Rolled Oats; Wheat.
- What is micronization? Micronization is a thermal process of treating raw materials, using infra-red emissions as its energy sources. Unlike the more traditional methods, the use of infra-red rays allows processing at lower temperatures for a shorter time.
- What are the benefits of utilising Micronized cereals? Greater available energy for the horse; starches are broken down and absorbed mainly in the small intestine; starches are absorbed as simple sugars; less starch passes to the large intestine and caecum; less fermentation of starches occurs in the hind gut leading to a reduction of lactic acid and therefore lower incidences of acidosis and laminitis; less antagonism of the normal gut fermentation of fibre and therefore less risk of colic.
- Compound feeds have been fed to horses for many years now. They can be divided into coarse mixes, fibre feeds, complete cubes, concentrate cubes and balancers.
- Coarse Mixes provide a balanced diet and are designed to be fed with forage. Different formulations are made for horses with different nutritional needs. Coarse mixes are very popular as most of the ingredients can be seen. These usually include, micronized cereals, peas and beans and a small vitamin/mineral pellet. Molasses or syrup is then used to reduce dust levels and increase uniformity and palatability.
- Fibre Feeds are a new way to feed where the fibre and feed pellets have been mixed together for the horse owner in one bag. They can be fed as a complete feed or in conjunction with other forages.
- Complete cubes, high in fibre and low in energy, tend to be used for overweight ponies or when hay is scarce. They are designed to replace all hay and concentrates in the ration. Care must be taken with complete cubes, as the fibre length is too short for horses, which need a minimum length of fibre for efficient gut function. Some horses on high fibre cubes have been seen to chew wood in their search for fibre and such cubes should be fed with good quality chaff.
- Concentrate cubes provide a balanced diet and are designed to be fed with forage. Different formulations are made for horses with different nutritional needs. The nutritional and mineral deficiencies of straights are balanced and the guesswork is removed.
- Balancers are higher in protein and designed to balance straights and forages.
- All compound feeds must, by law, declare certain ingredients, and these are a very useful reference. The following information must be given: % by weight of oil; % by weight of protein; % by weight of fibre; % of weight by total ash; amounts of added vitamins A, D & E(shown as international units (IU) per kg); total selenium content if synthetic (Se) has been added (mg/kg and if an antioxidant has been added. Some manufacturers, like ourselves, now also include digestible energy, but this is not compulsory. Sell by dates are also on the label and this allows the freshness of the feed to be assessed before purchase.
- Badminton Horse Feeds use natural, high quality fibre sources to supply optimum levels of digestible fibre, e.g. dried grass products, alfalfa, sugar beet pulp and oatfeed. Quality fibre provides important sustained slow release energy, which helps maintain the health of the horse’s digestive tract and should not be considered as a “filler”.
- Grain by-products (Distillers Grains; Oatfeed and Wheatfeed) supply digestible fibre that helps to maintain the health of the horse’s digestive tract. They can also supply protein and energy, for example Distillers Grains and to a lesser extent, Wheatfeed.
- Herbs are added to some feeds to encourage shy feeders. Herbs also provide some natural vitamins and minerals and have some antioxidant properties.
Minerals and Vitamins
- All the Badminton range of compound feeds contain extensive amounts of vitamins and minerals, specifically designed to meet the requirements of the horse or pony. (Full specification of required minerals and vitamins including bioplex minerals and a full range of B vitamins). We utilise the latest technical information and include some minerals in their more available bioplex form, such as magnesium, zinc and copper.
Oils and fats
- Oils are two to three times more energy rich than cereals. They include Vegetable Oil (including Soya Oil – pure, palatable, safe and stable) and Full Fat Soya. The use of oils in feed formulation increases the energy density of the feed, allowing less to be fed. Oils also provide slow release and sustained energy for work and are considered a better energy source for laminitics than sugars.
- All protein sources used in Badminton Horse Feeds are derived from plants. They include: Micronized Whole Soya Beans; Micronized Peas; Micronized Beans; Full Fat Soya; Sunflower Meal and Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal.
- These are high in quality proteins, but low in fibre, with the exception of Alfalfa meal.
- When considering by-products of the Sugar refining industry we are normally referring to the following: Sugar Beet Pulp; Molasses and Molglo.
- Sugar Beet Pulp has an energy level similar to that of cereals. It is, however, an excellent source of slow release energy derived from digestible fibre.
- Molasses and Molglo (Molasses enhanced with Oil) are good sources of energy, aid palatability and help to reduce dust in feed.
Supplements and Additives
- There is a vast array of supplements available for horses. Supplements are substances added to the horses diet in order to balance it or correct a perceived deficiency. Feral horses have been able to balance their own diets to a large extent be seeking out herbs and plants and even specific soil areas to correct deficiencies.
- Common supplements include: vitamin supplements e.g. biotin; mineral supplements e.g. limestone flour (calcium), selenium, copper; broad spectrum vitamin / mineral supplements containing a range of micronutrients; body salts (electrolytes) – sodium chloride, potassium, magnesium, calcium; bioplex or chelated minerals, as used in Badminton Horse Feeds, are individual mineral molecules, such as zinc, copper or manganese, which have been chemically combined with an amino acid. The horse absorbs amino acids very well, which means the attached mineral is processed efficiently through the gut, to give the horse optimum benefit.
- An additive is a substance that is added to an already balanced ration. Common additives include: enzymes – biological catalysts aimed to improve digestion by various means; herbs – a natural alternative to supplements; cod liver oil – source of vitamins A, D & E; probiotics – “live” bacteria to help recolonise the horses gut after stress or antibiotics.
- Most horses, if fed a balanced diet, do not need a supplement. If horses are being fed poor quality forage as the main ration, then a supplement may be necessary. Also, if a compound feed is used at a feeding rate less than recommended by the manufacturer, a supplement may be required.
- For example, the recommended level to feed a Horse and Pony Cube may be 3kg per day to supply all the mineral and vitamins to the horse. An overweight horse receiving 1kg of cubes per day will therefore receive only a third of that horse’s requirements (excluding the forage element) and a broad spectrum supplement containing a wide selection of vitamins and minerals may be required.
- A “B” vitamin supplement is often used for horses that have been ill, are in very poor condition, recovering from surgery or that have been “over-trained”. This is given as a tonic and can be very useful. They will also help to stimulate the appetite.
- Body salts (electrolytes) are essential for performance horses and are often neglected. They should be given alongside water whenever the horse has been sweating following work. Ordinary rock salt should also be freely available as a salt lick.
- Herbs are very fashionable and there is a large selection available. Some of them contain quite potent chemicals and care should be taken when feeding to pregnant mares and youngstock. Always follow the recommendations given on the label.
- Treats can be used as a reward or a means of attracting a horse in from the paddock. They will not have any vitamin or mineral supplementation, so will not affect a horse’s dietary balance.