Not all high fiber / low sugar and starch feeds are created equal. Here’s what to look for and why it’s important.
If our horses could decide how to pass the time of day themselves, they would spend between 10 and 16 hours a day feeding. This is because the instinct to feed is in their genes. Despite the fact that they are domesticated, their digestive systems are still designed to extract energy from high-fiber plant material. But unlike us humans, horses don’t stop feeling hungry when their stomachs are full; appetite is controlled by satisfying the need to chew. So eating is also an important activity that contributes to the horse’s well-being. The closer their domesticated diet comes to meeting this “natural nutrition” state, the better off they are.
The first criteria when looking at a feed is how long it takes to eat, which is dependent on the structure of the feed. The higher the crude fiber content, the longer the animal will be busy with it. Feeds that are rich in crude fiber include hay, straw and alfalfa. These natural roughage products, which contain coarse fibers which the horse has to work to grind down with its teeth, have several benefits: appropriate tooth wear, slower feed intake, more chewing activity and greater saliva formation. The latter plays a fundamental role in digestion as it softens the feed and makes it easier to swallow. So it keeps the horse feeling fuller for longer, it is converted better and has a positive impact on all gastrointestinal processes. So it’s no surprise that this indispensable crude fiber is described as the “engine of digestion.” But if rations only contain low levels of crude fiber, such as oats or barley, the horse chews very fast and the feed is not thoroughly mixed with saliva, causing gastrointestinal problems if swallowed as a concentrated pulp.
A diet rich in fiber is particularly recommended for breeds of horses that are easy keepers, including ponies, small horses and hardy breeds such as Icelandics, Haflingers or Fjords. This recommendation also applies to animals suffering from metabolic diseases such as EMS (equine metabolic syndrome), Cushing's syndrome, PSSM (polysaccharide storage myopathy), insulin resistance or laminitis. These animals also need rations that are low in starch and sugar in order to normalize hormonal imbalances. This is something that horse owners can only achieve with modified rations. The ideal feed is one that achieves a balance between crude fiber and concentrate and delivers the benefits of both so as to boost the metabolism long-term--like Cavalor FiberForce. FiberForce consists of alfalfa stems and extruded pellets.
“Why does my horse need alfalfa in its concentrate if it is already being fed hay?” you might wonder. That’s easy: because hay qualities differ greatly these days. What’s more, nutrient levels in crude fiber have plummeted in recent years, causing a long-term risk of nutrient deficiencies. Cavalor FiberForce ensures a constant supply of nutrients and a consistently high quality, so it is also ideal for horses with a hay dust allergy or chronic respiratory diseases.
Another important component of Cavalor FiberForce is oil, which is used as a high-quality source of energy. This particularly benefits older horses who have problems chewing or poor teeth and can only take in small quantities of roughage at a time. Any shortage of crude fiber is compensated for by this liquid energy source. Cavalor FiberForce can also be used as supplementary feed or, under certain conditions, as a complete feed.
Highly digestible feeds contain:
- high levels of crude fiber
- low sugar content
- reduced starch content
- a secure source of energy
- no whole grains
Cavalor FiberForce was developed for horses with:
- stomach ulcers
- gastrointestinal problems
- insulin resistance
- EMS (equine metabolic syndrome)
- Cushing's syndrome
- PSSM (polysaccharide storage myopathy)
- muscle problems
- chronic respiratory diseases
- postoperative problems
Cavalor Fiberforce (along with other Cavalor feeds, supplements and care products) can be found at a growing list of feed and supply companies nationally. To find a dealer near you, please visit http://cavaloruniversity.com/nutrition-partners/. To find out more, or get a personalized recommendation for your horse’s particular situation and needs, please call 855-228-2567 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cavalor is the leading provider of equine feed and supplements specializing in high-performance horses. Founded in Belgium in 1989, the company’s products are available in more than 50 countries worldwide and used by champion riders across the world. Cavalor has a longstanding commitment to supporting equestrian sports at their highest level and was Belgium’s Official Animal Health and Nutrition Partner for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games 2010 as well as the Official Supplier for the Belgian Olympic Team at the 2012 London Olympics.