Do they need a feed in summer?

Lizzie is a nutritionist with Saracen Horse Feeds and answers your feed-related queries
HighlandLass
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Do they need a feed in summer?

Postby HighlandLass » Tue Jul 13, 2010 1:50 pm

Dear Lizzie

My TB x Highland and his companion (Welsh x) are living out over the summer on about 3 acres of average grazing - there is grass but its not that long and has been drying up in the hot weather. On really hot days they can come in to get away from the flies and have hay instead, though they mostly just sleep! They both look well - their coats are shiny and smooth, and they are not fat but are carrying a bit more weight than they do in winter. I ride my horse about 4-5 times per week - mainly hacking, gentle schooling and the occasionally pleasure ride or local show. The pony is hacked out with us maybe 2-3 times per week at most by a 14 year old girl. All they get fed at the moment is a handful of chaff with some apple and carrot when they've been ridden. The question is, do they really need some kind of feed at this time of year? Some people at the yard have said they might not be getting enough from just the grazing, but they look good! I don't want them to get fat and I am careful about laminitis - the pony had it once about 5 years ago before I got him.

Thanks in advance for your help.

Expert_LizzieDrury
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Joined: Mon Jun 07, 2010 10:28 am
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Re: Do they need a feed in summer?

Postby Expert_LizzieDrury » Wed Jul 21, 2010 9:36 am

As they are looking well and have nice shiny and smooth coats and they appear to be carrying out the work that you are asking of them ok, there is always the phrase 'dont try and fix something that is not broken'.

However, as you do mention that the grass is now starting to disappear because of the weather, the quality will also start to decline, which is probably not a bad thing with respect to the calorie content of it and their waistlines, but it will be lacking in some key nutrients such as vitamins and minerals and quality protein. These elements are important to help support and maintain normal metabolic function, as well as helping with cell renewal, tissue and muscle repair, immune function, and the condition of the hooves etc. As your ponies are holding their condition well and the grass is being supplemented with an aloternative forage source they only require these key nutrients and dont require anymore in the terms of energy or calories. I would suggest that the easiest way to provide these would be to use a feedbalancer, which are very nutrient dense with respect to vitamins, minerals and protein but are low in calories, so will help to maintain manageable temperaments and body condition. They only need to be fed in small amounts (300 grams up to 800 grams) and can be mixed with a little of the chaff that you are currently feeding.
I would also recommend that you add some salt to their feed on a daily basis. Salt is the only mineral for which horses have an undisputable appetite for and will actively try and seek out. Supplementing with 2 ounces of salt will help to replace lost sodium and chloride and help to keep the thirst response stimulated, which in turn will help to maintain hydration.
I hope that this is of help.
Lizzie


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