Feed & Nutrition

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Why choosing hay for fibre content can be important - Horse owners are becoming very familiar with maneuvering their way through a lab report describing the nutrient content of hay. Terms such as dry matter (DM), crude protein (CP), water soluble carbohydrates (WSC), and non-structural carbohydrates (NSC) are routinely assessed by horse owners looking to buy a hay that works for their barn.

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Horse owners are familiar with the tragic pictures shared on social media of the emaciated horse rescued by the authorities, or the one that could not be saved due to its poor condition. Malnourished horses are a reality even in our affluent Western world. Sometimes these horses are the result of well-intentioned people trying to “save” unwanted horses, only to find they are unable to do so because of cost or scarcity of feed.

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Horses are grazers by nature, constantly foraging for optimal gastrointestinal health. While their ancestors had to search far and wide for feedstuffs, today’s horses are often given lush pasture and good quality hay that forms an excellent base diet without having to travel far to get it. In this article, we’ll discuss ration balancer options for low activity horses whose diet is mainly forage, and on the flip side, high-fat supplements for high activity, performance, and sale horses.

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There are a vast number of plants located throughout Canada that are toxic to horses in some respect. Many need to be eaten in large doses to cause much of an effect, while others require only a few mouthfuls. There are a variety of resources on plants toxic to livestock, but the Canadian Poisonous Plants Information System seems to be the most comprehensive. It lists over 250 poisonous plants found in Canada, their lethal dose (if known), and symptoms of poisoning.

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Spring is upon us and so is the prevalence of gas colic. Equine Guelph is sharing many strategies to prevent it. First, Equine Guelph recommends that every horse owner refers to its FREE Colic Risk Rater Tool to help them assess their management practices, such as introducing new feeds slowly to reduce their colic risk. An excellent video discussing safe introduction to spring pasture with expert in equine nutrition, Don Kapper, has just been added to the valuable resources housed on the Colic Risk Rater web page.

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Does your horse have a drinking problem? Good hydration is not just about how much a horse drinks, it’s also about how the water is used internally. A properly hydrated horse with balanced electrolytes will be healthier and perform better. A dehydrated horse is at increased risk of impaction colic and reduced athletic potential.

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Are you providing enough? Today’s horse owners are no doubt aware of the importance of vitamins in the diets of their horses, but many may not be aware of the role vitamins play in equine nutrition. Vitamins in their fresh natural form are organic substances found in grains and forages. They are important as cofactors, or facilitators, for different metabolic function, and deficiencies of them can cause disease conditions. Vitamins, unlike many of the nutrients we feed our horses, cannot be broken down for energy, and they provide no other nutrients to the horse.

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