Feeding your horse for enviable condition and topline – minus the ‘fizz’ factor – can be tricky, but it’s definitely possible. Here are our top 5 tips to help you…
- Feed plenty of forage and fibre
Forage and fibre (eg. pasture, hay and chaff) should always form the basis of your horse’s diet. At least 1.5% of their body weight should be fed as forage per day, which is 7.5kg for a 500kg horse. This much forage is essential for your horse’s gastrointestinal health, their welfare, sense of contentment AND it will supply a large amount of their energy and protein needs too. It also provides a slow, consistent supply of energy throughout the day – which helps them keep a level head.
TIP: Estimate the weight of your horse using a weight tape, then take this number and multiply it by 1.5% to calculate their minimum daily forage intake.
- If you feed grain, make sure it’s cooked (extruded or pelleted) – not raw
If your horse is in moderate to heavy work or they need to put condition on, they will likely need some extra energy in their diet, on top of their forage. If you plan to supply this extra energy with grain, make sure that the grain is cooked! Cooking grain makes the starch it contains much more available for digestion and absorption in your horse’s small intestine – and prevents it from ending up in the hindgut. If undigested starch does end up in the hindgut – which is what occurs with raw grain – it can disrupt the hindgut microbiome and lead to pain, excess gas production, irritation and excitable behaviour.
TIP: Look for pelleted or extruded feeds, such as CopRice Cool Conditioner® and CopRice Versatile®.
- Feed high quality protein
If you want to build topline or assist with muscle recovery, you need to feed high quality protein…. But what does ‘high quality’ actually mean? Protein is made up of amino acids. Horses can only generate some types of the amino acids they need to build muscle (known as ‘non-essential’ amino acids), and they need to get the rest from their diet (these are called ‘essential’ amino acids). Feeds that are said to contain ‘quality protein’ are feeds that are rich in essential amino acids – and these essential amino acids are highly bioavailable (so your horse’s body can use them). Extruded soybean, soybean meal and stabilised rice bran are sources of high quality protein.
TIP: Look for high quality protein ingredients, not just the level of protein in a feed.
- Top up with fat or oil
Horses digest fat easily and it has the added advantage of providing slow-release energy to help them keep a level head. Adding a product that’s high in fat or oil (to a forage-based, balanced diet) is a great way to provide your horse with a concentrated, ‘cool’ energy source to help with conditioning.
TIP: Look for products with high amounts of fat such as CopRice R® and CopRice High Joule® as a source of extra energy for your horse.
- Rule out any underlying causes of weight loss, poor muscling, or hot and ‘fizzy’ behaviour
This might sound obvious, but if your horse is lacking condition and topline, make sure underlying disease, bad teeth or a high worm burden aren’t part of the cause. If your horse is prone to hot or ‘fizzy’ behaviour, make sure they’re not in pain or discomfort. Feeding the right feeds for conditioning, topline and calm behaviour is definitely important, but so too is addressing any other underlying issues.
Got questions? Contact your local CRT store or CopRice on 1800 029 901