Correct feed rations

Horses in medium work

Horses in medium work refers to horses used for leisure and sport activities in light to medium work. The energy requirements of leisure and sport horses vary significantly, partly because of the way in which they are exercised but also, because of seasonal activities that may increase the energy needs of the horse such as riding camps, riding in snow, skijoring, hunting or simply long-distance riding. Consequently, it is important for this type of horse to be provided with a good nutritional basic diet that can easily be increased without producing any harmful effects. The feed given should be of a consistent quality with a relatively high content of fat and fibres and a balanced supply of minerals, vitamins and trace elements.

Remember that the amount of forage feed available to the horse will always determine the amount of concentrate feed needed, if any. Even when a horse does not need to concentrate feed, it will always need minerals and trace elements.

Horses in hard work

This category includes horses that are trained and exercised hard and/or regularly competed at a high level. It is, of course, impossible to advise with numerical accuracy on the feeding of high-performance horses. Their nutritional needs vary quite significantly depending on the type of performance of the horse, its competition schedule, individual metabolism and ability to absorb and convert nutrients. These horses have increased nutritional needs in terms of energy, protein, vitamins and minerals.

Remember that the amount of forage feed available to the horse will always determine the amount of concentrate feed needed, if any. High-performance horses will usually need concentrate feed so as to maintain a healthy weight and cope with their hard work schedule.

Older horses

The ability of a horse to absorb nutrients usually decreases with age. This is partly due to a deterioration in the absorption capacity of the digestive system and partly because of an impaired chewing ability in older horses.

As a result, some of the feed will pass through the digestive tract without being digested. Consequently, it is important for the teeth of an older horse to be regularly checked by an equine dentist. Older horses may also find it more difficult to absorb protein which can lead to a reduced muscle mass. This means that many older horses require a feed with a high content of protein.

The GROOV range of products including KRAFFT MUSCLE, KRAFFT PLUSS Protein and KRAFFT Lucerne are all concentrate feeds that would suit an older horse. However, if you prefer to give your horse a muesli mix then KRAFFT Muesli  Protein is a good alternative.

Remember that a good feed for an older horse should be palatable and easy to chew. For ease of chewing, feed given to older horses should be soaked in water.

Mares in foal

The normal gestation period of a mare is 335-345 days. During the first 8 months of the gestation period, a normal feed ration is often enough to maintain the weight of the mare and keep her in good health. However, the addition of minerals, trace elements and vitamins are important from the start of the gestation period. In the last 3 months of the gestation period, the foal goes through a rapid growth spurt and as a result, the need for nutrients such as calcium, phosphorous and protein increases too. The need for added energy, however, does not increase to the same extent. Consequently, it can sometimes prove difficult with a traditional feed ration to meet the increased need for protein without, at the same time, generating excessively high energy values.

The extra concentrate feed given to the mare during the final phase of gestation and lactation should/can usually be stopped as soon as the foal has been weaned. In many cases, the extra concentrate feed can be stopped before the foal has been weaned to help the mare dry up and her udder to return to normal and also, to reduce the risk of mastitis.

It is very easy to underestimate the extent and speed of which the foal grows in the final phase of gestation and how much of a ‘feed upshift’ that is required during this period. 2/3 of the birth weight is achieved during the last 4 months of gestation – with the foal doubling in weight during the last 2 months. Since protein is the parent material of all body tissues, it is imperative that the amount of supplementary protein given to the mare truly matches the substantial growth of her unborn foal.

For this category of horses, KRAFFT has developed special protein supplements such as Muesli  Protein or GROOV 150  – depending on the analysis values of your mare’s forage feed.

Feeding the foal

In the first few months of its life, the foal will get the nutrients it needs from the mare’s milk. The mare only produces colostrum milk for a very short time after giving birth. So, if the mare leaks during pregnancy, there is a risk of losing, if not all, then some of the highly nutritious colostrum milk. The foal should drink as much of the colostrum milk as possible in the first 4-8 hours. Because of its high content of essential antibodies, the colostrum milk is hugely important for the protection of the foal against infections, etc. A foal that loses its mother will be in urgent need of mare’s milk replacer in order to survive. However, as a horse owner, it is worth knowing that a mare’s milk replacer can never replace the important antibodies present in the colostrum naturally produced by the mare.

Salt can cause diarrhoea in foals and all salt blocks should therefore be kept out of reach of the foal. Once it has been weaned and separated from the mare, the foal may be given access to a salt block but keep an eye on how much salt is consumed.

Foals grow very quickly and in order to avoid nutritional slumps, the foal should start getting accustomed to concentrate feed even before it is fully weaned. KRAFFT Foal is specifically developed for foals with a smaller sized pellet and a high proportion of easily digestible crude protein. Protein is the parent material in all body tissues and a foal has the same need for energy as a high-performing competition horse.

Feeding the growing young horse

The cornerstone of horse breeding is correctly adapted feeds. In order to ensure the harmonious growth and development of the young horse, every horse owner/breeder ought to feed an analysed forage feed together with a concentrated feed balancer, the nutritional values of which are either declared or analysed.

As long as the horse is growing, it is important that the correct amount and quality of protein is provided through its feed rations. The balance between different minerals, predominantly calcium and phosphorous, is vital for a healthy development of the skeleton. A 1-year-old horse is almost as much in need of protein as a high-performing horse. Once the young horse has reached the age of 2, its need for protein has lessened and is more or less on par with that of a normal performing horse. Horses that are put into training at an early age will, however, have a higher need for protein and should have their feed rations adjusted in line with the level of exercise intensity.

Young horses that are turned away and live out for most of the winter season also need an extra supply of energy. It is not just cold winter days that increases the energy needs of horses. Their energy needs are also affected by rain and wind. Young horses need energy to keep warm but it also stimulates them to move. Consequently, it is always good to be aware of the increased need for energy in the young horse before the arrival of autumn and winter.

Once the young horse is getting closer to the age of 3, its feed rations may be adapted to the level of exercise intensity.

Our KRAFFT GROOV range of products is a good choice offering many different options according to the varying needs and forage diet of the growing young horse. This eliminates the need of constantly having to change the type of feed given at the same time as it ensures that the young horse gets the daily feed intake recommended. For those horse owners who prefer a muesli mix, we recommend KRAFFT MUESLI Protein.

The convalescent horse

A horse that is put on forced box rest faces a number of challenges and possible complications, usually related to its digestive system and functioning of the large intestine. Antibiotic treatments can, for example, knock out some of the microflora in the large intestine and horses treated with penicillin ought to be given a supplement such as GASTRO SUPPORT to support their natural microflora. GASTRO SUPPORT is available from most well-stocked equestrian shops.

A convalescent horse should have access to hygienic and good quality straw. The straw adds fibre and gives the horse something to do. Any concentrate feed, if given, must not be rich in fibre or energy. Starchy feed should be avoided as this may have an adverse effect on the colon function and muscles of the convalescent horse.

It is also very important to make sure that the convalescent horse has constant access to clean and fresh water. For better control of how much water the horse consumes, water should be provided in buckets. Horses that have recently undergone surgery may have difficulties drinking due to pain or because they find themselves in an unfamiliar environment, e.g. a veterinary hospital. Nor is it unusual for convalescent horses to become anxious when their stable companions are turned out and they end up alone in the stable. This could also have an effect on their desire to eat and drink.

Rich in both fat and fibre, our KRAFFT GROOV range of products is the perfect choice for the convalescent horse.