Winter Feeding- Affordable Forage
Winter feeding is something we all try not to think about primarily because it has such a huge impact on our finances! However, early planning and preparation could save you money in the long term and make a huge difference to your horse’s wellbeing.
It is important to really think about what forage you are going to feed throughout the winter. Good quality forage is not only essential for ensuring that your horses digestive system remains healthy, but will also contribute a large proportion of the energy required to help your horse maintain good condition over the winter. Finding good quality forage can also mean that the level of concentrate feed required can be reduced.
Forage should form the backbone of your horse’s diet, remember horses evolved to spend 50-75% of each day grazing; continuous ingestion of fibrous feeds keeps the digestive tract running smoothly! If like the majority of us, you do not have good grazing all year round, grass will need to be topped up with an alternative forage source throughout the winter and early spring. The fermentation of forage in the horse’s hindgut by the micro-flora generates heat. Feeding plenty of forage therefore acts as your horses own internal central heating system.
Why is Forage so Important in the Horse’s Diet?
Horses evolved eating a high fibre diet, with fibre still remaining the single most important component today aside from water. Horses are designed to ‘trickle feed’ and have fibre in their digestive system most of the time. Having horses stabled and turning them out in muddy fields makes this virtually impossible. It is therefore essential to feed and manage your horse in a way that mimics nature as closely as possible.
Withholding fibre can cause serious digestive disturbances including colic, dehydration, and diarrhoea, whilst also increasing the chances of stomach ulcers. Feeding plenty of fibre is therefore important and will keep your horse healthier.
Horses can also get bored when stabled for long periods, so it is important that they have forage continually available, otherwise they may start looking for other forms of entertainment such as wood chewing, or wind sucking! Having a bucket of short chop fibre available in their stable will keep them busy.
Finding the Right Feed is Important
Obviously different horses have very different needs and a competition horse’s requirements will vary greatly to that of a native pony. So finding the right forage to compliment the type of horse is important, as too, is suiting concentrate feeds to each individual horse. The key is not to overfeed! Consider using a feed balancer, or general purpose supplement to provide the vitamins and minerals required for a balanced diet. Use a short chop such as Honeychop to mix with the feed, or to bulk out your concentrate feed to slow down eating time, ensuring optimum digestion.
Benefits of Honeychop
Honeychop is a chopped dry forage with an average of 24% fibre producing slow releasing energy that provides fuel without making your horse excitable. Independent trials have proven that a short-chop, such as Honeychop takes longer to chew than a long-chop such as hay, or haylage. Therefore the benefits of Honeychop chaff include prolonged eating times, aiding good digestion and keeping your horse, or pony occupied for longer, especially when stabled for long periods of time.
Honeychop is also unique, as we only use Conservation Grade Oat Straw in our products, which is of the best quality and is either home grown, or locally sourced from our carefully selected British growers at ‘Fair to Nature’ standards. This means the straw we use is grown to the highest possible standards and we allow all our straw to dry naturally in the sun and we never use desiccants to dry the crop. We want the best for every horse, which is why we will not use less digestible wheat, or barley straw. Oat Straw is softer and tends to be more palatable, which is important as it is easier for horses to digest due to a lower lignin content.
Honeychop have added some essential minerals, such as calcium and salt to our chaffs, which are often lacking in the diet; both very important for any horse or pony that is worked regularly. Calcium is added in the form of limestone and is vital for healthy growth, strong bones, teeth and hooves. Salt is another essential mineral required by a horse to function normally; a lack of salt can cause loss of performance. Honeychop contains these minerals at a functional level and a kilogram of Honeychop Chaff per day provides 25g of salt and 40g of limestone flour, which is the recommended amount per day for an average horse in light work in a moderate climate.
Molasses free for the Good Doer or those prone to laminitis
Honeychop Natural Choice Alfalfa, free from molasses, is a non-heating low sugar, slow release fibre feed blend with alfalfa, timothy grass and oat straw. Coated with linseed and rapeseed oil Natural Choice Alfalfa is perfect for fuelling work and promoting condition. It is high in calcium and this, combined with linseed (flax seed) oil is ideal to promote general health and coat condition. Blended with cinnamon and mix of real herbs known for their natural antioxidant properties it is the perfect low calorie palatable fibre feed to add to your horse, pony or donkeys diet. With a typical sugar content of 5.5% you can be sure you will be limiting the amount of sugar in your horse, pony or donkey’s diet.
Honeychop Lite & Healthy is the perfect feed for natives and good doers, it is a molasses free blend of oat straw, timothy grass, herbs, marigolds and cinnamon. The blend of natural fibres and selected herbs in Honeychop Lite and Healthy will add natural variety to your horse, pony or donkeys diet, mimicking the natural environment in which they should graze. It is low in both sugar and stach so is the perfect feed to add fuel this winter without adding extra pounds.
Honeychop’s Chopped Oat Straw is an ideal feed for horses or ponies prone to laminitis and will also help with weight control in your good doer. If your horse or pony prefers a straight chaff, Chopped Oat Straw is the perfect feed. It is simply 100% pure dust extracted oat straw, with no molasses or additives. A natural feed which is high in fibre and low in starch makes it a great feed to bulk out any meal without adding extra calories. It will help to satisfy their appetite and keep them fuller for longer; it can also be used as a partial hay replacer.
Honeychop Senior is chopped oat straw with added alfalfa, mint, oil and a very low sugar dressing. It is the perfect fibre feed for the older horse, or pony. Honeychop Senior is the perfect fibre choice for your veteran. Being a short chop, it decreases the need to rely so much on the teeth for cutting, which is great for those who suffer from poor oral health. Soya oil is a fat, whilst alfalfa is a high protein fibre, both are a great way to increase energy density in the diet without increasing volume
Honeychop Calm & Shine is a blend of chopped oat straw with dried grass, marigold, nettle, mint, camomile and oil and a very low sugar dressing. Soya oil is a slow release energy which will help to improve stamina and support any work that is being done, but tends not to exaggerate an excitable temperament. Honeychop Calm & Shine is low in sugar and starch, providing a slow release of limited controlled energy from high quality, digestible fibre and oil based ingredients, making it an excellent feed for horse and ponies that are easily excited. Our carefully selected blend of herbs in Honeychop Calm & Shine will make your horse or pony shine from the inside out!
Honeychop Plus Apple contains natural human grade apple pieces and apple flavouring, making it highly appetising for horses and ideal for fussy feeders.
Or, Honeychop Plus Herbs includes a blend of aromatic herbs known for their therapeutic properties for horses and ponies and will tempt even the most difficult feeder.
Honeychop Plus Garlic includes garlic at a functional level, rather than just enough to give a ‘nice smell’. With 30g of garlic in a 1kg serving, it is the recommended daily allowance for a 500kg horse and eliminates the need to buy extra supplements.
Honeychop Original is a high fibre oat straw chaff with the addition of limestone flour and salt. You can be sure your horse, or pony has a palatable feed that also provides an adequate level of calcium and salt in its diet. It is ideal to mix with a concentrate feed, promotes good digestion and the short chop length will keep your horse occupied for longer.
Within our range of quality fibre feeds, we have something for every horse. If you need any more information please do not hesitate to pick up the phone and give us a call, or send us an enquiry via our website and we will be able to advise you on your winter feeding programme.