Why Feed a forage based diet?
Horses have evolved to spend much of their day eating so why Feed a forage based diet? In the wild, they would have had free access to a wide variety of vegetation and forage, eating little and often, whilst travelling many miles in one day. Today’s equine is managed in a very different way to their ancestors, with limited grazing and space, however the digestive system is still designed to work in the same ‘little and often’ routine, with a high fibre diet being the optimum nutrition source to keep your horse healthy and satisfied.
Feeding a high fibre diet is not a new concept, however it is surprising how many horses do not have access to a sufficient quantity of forage, and what fibre they do consume can often be lacking in vital vitamins, minerals and trace elements. These deficiencies can affect horses in different ways, from poor condition and inefficient digestion, to behavioural issues and a general lack of health and wellbeing.
In essence, forage should be the basis of every horse’s diet. Vitamins, minerals and trace elements should be added to balance the deficiencies often found in grass, hay and haylage. If it is then necessary to add extra calories, e.g. for improving condition, or increasing energy levels, this can be done with super fibres such as alfalfa and sugar beet, or cereal based feeds.