In most circumstances due to diminished grass quantity and quality during the winter months the majority of your horse’s fibre intake will be provided from either hay or haylage. If you have an older horse who is struggling to chew, dropping balls of forage from their mouth (quidding) or who have fibrous pieces in their droppings then fibre intake is likely to be considerably reduced.
Fibre is an essential dietary requirement for any horse, providing a source of calories, maintaining gut motility and producing heat through fermentation to keep them lovely and warm in the cooler months. As a guide, a horse should look to receive 2% of their bodyweight in forage each day (24 hours) to ensure healthy digestive function. If you do have a horse that can longer chew forage effectively it is essential we replace this fibre, which can be done by effectively creating what’s known as a 'haynet in a bucket.'
The Dodson & Horrell forage replacer combines up to 600g per 100kg of bodyweight of each of the following three products; High Fibre Nuts, KwikBeet and Alfalfa. Although we use no binders in our cubes so they are nice and soft if you think your horse may struggle with them High Fibre Nuts can be made into a mash by soaking in water. The amount fed can be adjusted according to your horse’s chewing ability.
As an example a 500kg horse who is no longer able to chew any long-stem forage would receive 3kg dry weight of KwikBeet subsequently soaked, 3kg High Fibre Nuts and 3kg Alfalfa mixed together.
Ideally this quantity should be divided into several small meals and spread throughout the day/night to mimic grazing. If it is not practical to feed this frequently I recommend that you divide the forage replacer into 2-3 large buckets and leave these with the horse to graze on in their stable and field. A useful and effective tip to slow down consumption is to place a salt block within the feed bucket encouraging them to eat around it.
Our video provides a handy visual guide on how to make up the forage replacer, however if you have any questions please do call our Helpline on 0845 345 2627.