- 15th June 2022 by Rowen Barbary
Alternative Conditioning Sources
In recent years it is becoming increasingly popular to seek a diet that is low in starch and sugar but still providing enough calories to maintain condition and provide enough energy and stamina for the ring. The more traditional diets often include cereals to increase the calorie content of the feed however, for some of our four-legged friends could encourage some excitable behaviour due to the starch levels that come hand in hand with a cereal diet. Fibre: The minimum fibre requirement for a horse or pony a day is 1.5% of their bodyweight. In general, horses or ponies in low levels of work not requiring weight loss or gain usually consume between 2% - 2.5% of bodyweight in fibre a day. However, if the horse is consuming 2.5% of its bodyweight in fibre but it is not supplied with sufficient energy, it will need to be replaced by an alternative source of energy. An alternative source would have a concentrated amount of energy such as a cereal based feed or a high oil feed. When a feed is introduced into the diet, the forage ration will decrease and the concentrate ration will increase keeping the total amount of feed a day in the 2.5% of the horse or ponies bodyweight. When the fibre requirement of the horse is met and the horse has an additional feed exceeding the expenditure of calories it will allow the horse to increase their bodyweight. Fibre not only maintains a healthy population of bacteria in the hindgut but it also generates heat during fibre fermentation and help to reduce the incidence of stereotypic behaviours and gastric ulcers. Oils: An easy alternative to a cereal diet for condition is a diet containing higher levels of fats/oils. It is important to note that when increasing the oil levels in the diet it will increase the level of fatty acids present, which are prone to oxidation which can be harmful to cells and tissues in the body. To help minimise oxidative damage it is recommended to supplement Vitamin E, an antioxidant and Selenium alongside one another to cooperatively help to protect the body’s tissues and cells from oxidative stress. It is recommended that Vitamin E is supplemented 1-1.5 IU per 1 ml of Oil. Rowen Barbary’s Solution Mash is an alternative conditioning mash which is still high in fibre to help to support digestive health as well as containing higher levels of oil (15%) to help and encourage controlled weight gain or to maintain current condition. The Solution Mash contains the key antioxidants and 500IU of Vitamin E to support the higher amount of oil present in the mash. Rowen Barbary’s Sumo Original is a high oil (50%) supplement which can be added into a diet to increase the calorie content to help improve condition and coat condition. The Sumo Original is also very low in starch and sugar and also contains antioxidants, Vitamin E (1000 IU), Vitamin C, Selenium and Zinc. The Sumo Original and Solution Mash are complimentary to each other to provide a high fibre, high oil fully balanced diet with low starch and sugar. Protein: The type and quality of protein are the biggest factors affecting body condition, sound muscle tone and coat. Lysine and Threonine are two amino acids which are also essential for muscle growth, repair and development. Protein is particularly important to the show horse and products like Rowen Barbary Muscle Builder can be added to the diet to help encourage overall muscle tone and development helping improve topline. However if you are looking for a low starch and low sugar alternative quality protein source, additives such as Spirulina, Pea and Potato proteins are suitable options and are all suitable for horses susceptible to EMS, EGUS and Laminitis. Pea Protein is a rich source of sustainable protein (80%) and essential amino acids. Pea Protein helps to support and improve muscle mass, connective tissue health whilst being low in calories, sugars and starch. Potato Protein is a high-grade Protein 80% Concentrate. The Potato protein is highly digestible, low in starch and sugar. It contains essential amino acids, especially rich in Lysine, Methionine, Threonine, Tryptophan and Valine. Potato protein helps to support and improve muscle tone, particularly horses in hard work or requiring stamina. Spirulina is the new ‘superfood’, Spirulina is a blue-green algae with a high nutritional value due to a wide range of essential nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals and proteins. With a protein content of approximately 65% that are biologically complete - which means they provide all eight essential amino acids in the correct ratios. Furthermore, Spirulina provides all the required amino acids in a form that are easily digestible. It is also rich in B group Vitamins including Iron and Manganese. Balance: Your horse or ponies diet should still be fully balanced to ensure overall health and vitality is being maintained. To ensure your horse is receiving all the essential vitamins, minerals and trace elements ensure you are feeing a complete feed mash or provide a balancer or vitamin and mineral supplement. It is also important to consider if you are feeding less than the recommended amount of a complete feed that you include a balancer to provide a fully balanced diet. Rowen Barbary's Vitem is ideal for horses and ponies requiring a low calorie ‘top up’ of vitamins, minerals and trace elements. Vitem supplies 12 vitamins, 6 trace elements plus 4 major minerals. It can be fed alongside fibre or added to reduced quantities of other concentrate feed, to help ensure a fully balanced diet.