FIBRE is vital for optimal gastrointestinal health, but it is also a main source of energy to the diet. By feeding different fibre sources, the amount of cereals in the horse’s diet could be greatly reduced.
Fibre supplies 30-70% of the daily digestible energy requirements for a horse, but it is not just forage sources, such as hay or haylage, that contribute to this. Super fibres, such as sugar beet and soybean hulls are extremely high in energy compared to forage. They are, however, still lower in energy than oats and barley, but they do have the ability to reduce the amount of cereals used in the diet.
Horses are classified as hind gut fermenters, this means that fibre sources are digested in the hind gut by microbial fermentation instead of enzymes in the stomach. This fermentation process produces volatile fatty acids, which are absorbed and used in the body for energy. Super fibres do not cause a surge in glucose or insulin and the energy produced is released slowly, which means no unwanted “fizzy” behaviour. It is vital that we keep these microbes healthy and maintain digestive mobility to promote gastrointestinal health. A higher fibre intake will also lead to an increase in water consumption, creating a reservoir for electrolytes and help reduce the occurrence of dehydration.
The two main super fibres used in horse feeds are sugar beet and soybean hulls. Sugar beet pulp is a by-product of the sugar industry and has been used in agricultural and horse feeds for many years. It is a natural probiotic, promoting gastrointestinal health, however, care must be taken as it is rich in calcium and low in other minerals, therefore it should never be fed as a complete forage replacement. Soybean hulls require processing before becoming palatable. The hulls are separated during oil extraction, they are then processed and cooked before mixing into soybean meal, which is a highly digestible form.
The use of super fibres instead of cereals in feeds are ideal for horses sensitive to cereals and high starch levels. Or those prone to conditions such as Recurrent Exertional Rhabdomyolysis or Cushing’s Disease (PPID). It allows owners to provide enough energy for horses to perform with increased stamina due to a steady and slow release of energy, whilst promoting gastrointestinal health.
Super fibres are found within most of the Bluegrass Horse Feeds product range. With the addition of high-quality vitamins and minerals, the feeds are specifically formulated to provide horses with the optimal nutrients required to meet their specific workload.
To find out more on the Bluegrass Horse Feeds product range, please contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org