How Your Feeding Program Can Improve Your Horse’s Behaviour

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tribute equine nutrition, tribute essential k, tribute EZ, horse nutrition equine, horse starch equine sugar diet

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By Dr. Dan J. Burke, Ph.D.

Director of Equine Nutrition, Tribute Equine Nutrition/Kalmbach Feeds, Inc.

Do you wish you could have a calmer horse, reduce or eliminate longeing time, and help your horse maintain better focus in training and in the show pen? All while maintaining his general body condition, topline, hair coat and hoof quality? Let’s evaluate the situation and find an answer...

We have learned a tremendous amount about the interaction of nutrition with behaviour in the past few years. We now know that reducing the amount of starch and sugar going to the horse can have a calming effect. Sugar plus starch in a feed is called non-structural carbohydrates (NSC), and we need to reduce the total intake of NSC (i.e., percent x pounds fed), not just the percent of NSC.

For example, a horse being fed six pounds of feed that is 14 percent NSC would be taking in 0.84 pounds of NSC (0.14 x 6). A horse eating a feed designed to be fed at two pounds per day would be taking in 0.28 pounds of NSC (0.14 x 2). Further, an inexpensive sweet feed may be 45 percent NSC and have a feeding rate of six pounds per day – which results in an NSC intake of 2.7 pounds!

It is important to recognize that there is a tremendous variation from horse-to-horse in how NSC affects behaviour and/or body condition. Horses that are in heavy work, growing, pregnant, or lactating can tolerate higher NSC levels than idle, mature horses.

Many folks reduce the amount of feed a horse is getting to calm them down – in essence, achieving the above reduction in NSC intake. But in so doing, they are also reducing the intake of all other critical non-calorie nutrients (amino acids, vitamins and minerals) which negatively affects the general body condition, topline, hair coat, and hoof quality.

All feeds have recommended feeding levels on the bag or tag. These are the amounts the company believes a horse needs to ensure the proper intake of all nutrients. If one feeds less than the recommended amount, it is like taking only a fraction of the medication your doctor prescribes.

Thus, to reduce the total NSC intake, we have to reduce the amount of feed the horse is getting, use a lower percent NSC product, but still meet the other nutrient requirements. This requires the feed to have higher concentrations of the non-calorie nutrients.

There is a common belief that high protein causes hyperactivity.  This is not true unless the protein level exceeds that required by an estimated two-fold.

In addition, many supplement companies promote products with higher magnesium and/or B-vitamins like thiamin. Without reduction in NSC intake, these will have little effect.

What is the answer?

The product which provides the most complete nutritional package in a true “low NSC” design is Tribute Equine Nutrition’s Essential K.

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Essential K is formulated to be approximately 14 percent NSC, with very low feeding rates (1-2 pounds per day). The product has optimal amino acid balance and vitamin and mineral levels that meet or exceed the new NRC 2007 requirements for horses. When fed as recommended, Essential K can be less expensive to feed per day than other feeds. 

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For horses requiring more calories, Tribute EZ is the next step. It is 14.5 percent NSC and higher in fat (8 percent), keeping the NSC intake low enough to help control the horse’s mind. This product is used by top trainers across North America.  

This information was contributed by Tribute Equine Nutrition. For more information, please visit the Tribute Equine Nutrition website.

tribute equine nutrition, tribute essential k, tribute EZ, horse nutrition equine, horse starch equine sugar diet

Product: 
Essential K by Tribute Equine Nutrition and Tribute EZ by Tribute Equine Nutrition

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