With the lower nutritional value of grazing and colder temperatures it is important to keep fibre at the forefront of any horse’s diet, whether stabled or living out this winter. By keeping the fibre level maintained not only will it help to maintain condition and a healthy hindgut, but it will also help to maintain body temperature in cold weather as heat is produced through the digestion of feed.
The choice and availability of hay replacers has grown significantly over the last few years with advancing technology. There are many options available on the market to help increase the fibre content of the horses diet including short chopped chaffs, sugar beet, grass nuts, alfalfa pellets and specially formulated soaking feeds.
By using a specifically formulated hay replacer you can ensure that your horse is receiving a set level of nutrients, with the high quality not altering with the seasons. It should provide your horse with the high fibre levels similar to that in hay. Feeds designed to be fed soaked as a soft textured mash are very palatable for horses with poor dentition, whether caused due to age or through injury, and are also an excellent way to help maintain ample water intake.
Ideally a hay replacer should be divided into several small meals fed throughout the day. These meals can be split between 2 – 3 large buckets and left with the horse to graze with either in the field or stable. If your horse shares a field with a companion it is recommended that the field is sectioned off so only the horse that requires the hay replacers has access to it.