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          Stall feeding and our advice on how to manage it.

          Thursday, November 15, 2018

          Just like care, feeding is essential for the horse's well-beingand health and performance. A poorly adapted diet can cause colic or other digestive disorders. It can also be a daily source of discomfort and stress. In this article, we tackle the sensitive subject of diet.

          1. Understanding the nutritional needs of your horse

          The horse is a non-ruminant monogastric herbivore. It spends between 15 to 19 hours a day feeding in the wild. It feeds in the form of multiple small mealsday and night. Unlike humans, they are not adapted to eating large quantities of food. Its digestive tract is adapted to its natural feeding habits. Its large intestine is highly developed, while its stomach and small intestine are small. So it's vital to understand the main characteristics of your horse's digestion. It's also important to understand their consequences, so you can better adapt your horse's daily ration:

          - Mares have 36 teeth compared with 40 for males. The latter, with continuous growthare adapted to the consumption of large quantities of forageof fiber that ensure regular wear and tear. There is a risk of overtoothed teeth in horses that don't eat enough forage and don't wear down their teeth sufficiently.

          Its stomach is relatively small.

          It represents 7% of the total volume of the digestive tract, i.e. between 15 and 18 litres of total volume for a saddle horse. The latter is adapted to small quantities ingested at each meal, several times during the day. The horse is not a ruminant, it only swallows its food after having carefully chewed and moistened thanks to an abundant production of saliva. The walls of its stomach secretehydrochloric acid (about 30 litres per day). To neutralise this acid, the horse relies on saliva and food. Without sufficient saliva and a regular supply of vegetables, the acid attacks the mucous membrane. Some studies show that less than 8 hours is enough to cause lesions...

          L'small intestine is the main site of digestion.

          It represents 30% of the total volume of the digestive tract. The residence time of food is short: between 1 and 2 hours. This is why the distribution of frequent small meals distributed during the day improves the efficiency of digestion, especially for concentrated feeds.

          The large intestine accounts for 60% of the total volume.

          The total transit time transit total time is 24 to 48 hours depending on the composition of the ration. It is faster for low-fibre rations. What was not digested upstream in the digestive tract is digested by fermentation. The many micro-organisms present allow for the degradation of the following in particular fibres. Their number and composition depend on the horse's ration.

          Therefore, to respect the digestion of his horse, it is important to give him regular meals, at fixed schedulesat least split into 3 or even 4 meals per day, thus ensuring that consumption is spread over the day and part of the night. This is particularly important for food concentratess, particularly the cerealswhich are brought in too large meals, are pushed into the large intestine where their fermentation is the cause of colic very painful.

          In addition, a contribution of fibres all throughout the dayThe new system, which provides nutrients that are consumed more slowly, satisfies the need for chew and provides a steady flow of food in his digestive tract. Dietary changes should be progressive so that the flora of its large intestine has time to evolve to be effective: this flora feeds on the feed but also makes it digestible for the horse. A dietary transition takes place over a few days or even a few weeks. A transition which is too rapid is the cause of diarrhoeaof colic.

          2. Provide him with a ration that corresponds to his needs

          Each horse is given a specific amount of feed, depending on its metabolism and its activity. It varies according to its needs and its medical status. The harder the horse works, the more food.

          What does the horse's diet consist of? The fodder, the basis of the diet 

          There is a link between excessive consumption of concentrated foods and the development of gastric ulcers. To limit gastric problems and abnormal behavior, the forage should form the basis of the horse's diet. On average, horses consume 7 to 15 kg of dry matter (DM).

          Generally speaking, the proportion of forage should be maximum for horses with low requirements stallions or brood mares in early gestation (80 à 100% of the daily ration). It decreases as requirements needs increase to reach 40 or even 30% of the quantity of dry matter distributed per day (competition or race horses).

          The all-you-can-eat intake reduces the stress and has a positive impact on the well-being and the behaviour. In addition, the horses would consume as much hay during the day as at night. It is therefore advisable to distribute at least two hay meals a the morning and one the evening.

          Its diet can then be supplemented withtraditional foods such as oats, barley or corn, as well asindustrial foods such as pellets or flakes, and possible supplements.

          These foods are designed to cover the energy requirements (expressed in Horse Feed Units, UFC) and proteins (expressed in g MADCHorse Digestible Nitrogenous Matter), in minerals (macro and trace elements) and vitamins. Recommended daily allowances take into account requirements needs of the horse according to its physiological situation gender, size, age, physical activity.... However, thebody condition and feeding feeding behavior should also be taken into account when adjusting the ration.

          Find below the daily requirements for a 500 kg blood horse:

          Source: INRA 2012

          Example of ration calculation

          The calculation of a ration is quite complex. It is best to seek advice from your veterinarian or stable manager on the dosage and the composition of his ration, because it is vital not to supercharge his mount.

          According to INRA:

          For a 500 kg horse, practicing an average activity, working 1 to 2 hours a day, it is necessary to :

          • 7,8 UFC
          • 562 g of MADC
          • 10 to 12 kg of DM

           The contributions of a theoretical basic ration over one day are :

          • 5 kg of hay: 2.2 CFU and 4.2 kg DM
          • 3 to 4 kg straw: 0.8 CFU and 2.6 to 3.5 kg DM

          The basic ration provides a total of 2.2 + 0.8, i.e. 3 PDUs for approximately 7.2 kg of DM.
          With a complete feed, it is therefore necessary to provide in 2 or 3 meals: 7.8 PDUs - 3.0 PDUs, i.e. 4.8 PDUs

          If feed X provides 0.75 CFU per kilo. The horse will therefore need 4.8/0.75 = 6.4 kg of X per day.

          Digestive disorders, the horse's Achilles tendon

          Be careful, however, as too much food too rich and concentrated can lead to digestive problems problems: colic, diarrhoea, stomach ulcers, laminitis, deficiencies in important nutrients, etc. Transit and digestion are vital and extremely sensitive in horses.

          It should be noted that 60% of horses are subject to gastric ulcers. Several studies have shown that the pulse rate of the horse increases in case of pain. With the Seaver strap, it is possible to detect this kind of problem.

          A stable cardio but above 50 beats per minute as here, on a trained horse, at rest, calm and unstressed, may indeed indicate latent latent painsuch as an ulcer...

          Careful, it all depends on your mount. Indeed, some horses such as Fjord, Highland, Icelandic type ponies have a higher than normal heart rate at rest (30-40 bpm). In this case, this type of figure can be alarming only if it is repeated (before the session, horse motionless and calm in his place of life).

          What about the Seaver strap in all this?

          Working your horse leads to an increase in its energy expenditure compared to a resting situation, which results primarily from the movement of the muscles, but also from the increased activity of the respiratory and cardiovascular systems.

          On the home screen of your app, it is possible to track the number of calories burned by your horse in real time. At the end of the training session, we also give the total number of calories burned, the average energy expenditure of the horse in kcal/min, and its evolution over the session. Thus, by measuring the number of calories burned by their horse over time, Seaver offers you the possibility toadjust if needed diet of your favourite animal.

          3. A few tips, tricks and golden rules

          To avoid dietary imbalances, here are some tips and golden rules to follow:

          - Be careful with teeth teeth, especially the molars which act like rasps. In the event of rubbing obstacles, there may be a decrease of the horse's digestibility of food. The quality of mastication is easily demonstrated by examining the droppings. If grains are left undigested, the horse is not chewing well.

          - Note that the horse blows on its feed, which makes it sensitive to dust. It is therefore preferable to feed on the ground in a clean clean area (avoid sand or earth) or at a low to facilitate expectoration of inhaled dust (trachea facing downwards).

          - If your horse is a bit gluttonous "put pieces of salt stone in the feed trough to curb his appetite. And, to avoid disturbing the start of his digestion, avoid making him work within an hour of feeding.

          - The microbes present in his digestive tract are highly sensitive to changes in diet because they are specific to each food, which is why gradual food transitions are necessary when changing diet to allow this microbial flora to adapt.

          - The use of bedding other than straw increases the risk of abnormal behavior. The straw bedding unlike wood shavings, is more likely to encourage decubitus decubitus position (horse lying down all the way). Above all, it encourages the horse to continuously search for feed limiting boredom.

          See you soon for a new article,

          The Seaver team 😘