1. Mi­cronu­tri­ents ex­plored

Your Horse (UK) - - Horse Care -

EN­TER ANY FEED store and you’ll be greeted by a di­verse ar­ray of feed bags and bales of for­age. Plus treats, of course. With the enormous choice avail­able th­ese days, it’s all a bit mind-bog­gling. But one rule holds true — feed­ing what your horse needs for his lifestage, con­di­tion and the work ex­pected of him is es­sen­tial, and it’s why un­der­stand­ing the role of calo­ries and mi­cronu­tri­ents in your horse’s diet will help you keep him in tip-top health.

A vi­tal in­gre­di­ent

Mi­cronu­tri­ents are the vi­ta­mins and min­er­als your horse needs ev­ery day to keep him healthy. They main­tain and sup­port all his bod­ily func­tions, in­clud­ing sup­port­ing the im­mune sys­tem and bone and teeth struc­ture. They’re also es­sen­tial for nerve and mus­cle func­tion­ing and to help pro­mote good eye­sight. Ba­si­cally, your horse needs them for his gen­eral health and well­be­ing. Mi­cronu­tri­ents are re­quired in very small quan­ti­ties — the name mi­cro gives it away. But make no mis­take, their role is ex­tremely im­por­tant, and get­ting the cor­rect bal­ance is crit­i­cal for a happy, healthy horse. Some vi­ta­mins are made in­ter­nally, but not vi­ta­mins A or E, so your horse will need to get th­ese from his diet. De­mand for other vi­ta­mins varies, which is why man­u­fac­tur­ers in­clude a broad spec­trum in most feeds to avoid de­fi­ciency de­vel­op­ing. Check the list of in­gre­di­ents and val­ues on the back of the feed bag to en­sure your horse is get­ting the right amounts. Most nu­tri­tion­ists and feed com­pa­nies use the nu­tri­ent lev­els pub­lished by the Na­tional Re­search Coun­cil (NRC) to en­sure your horse is get­ting what he needs.

Where to find th­ese dy­namos

All feed­stuffs con­tain vary­ing lev­els of mi­cronu­tri­ents, from graz­ing and hay through to hard feed and sup­ple­ments. If you’re feed­ing a for­age-only diet, then a broad­spec­trum vi­ta­min and min­eral sup­ple­ment or bal­ancer can be an ef­fec­tive way of en­sur­ing most daily mi­cronu­tri­ent re­quire­ments are met. For­age alone won’t do this. When feed­ing your horse sup­ple­ments, al­ways ques­tion why you’re feed­ing them and en­sure you know what they con­tain. Don’t feed a sup­ple­ment for fash­ion, or be­cause your f riend does — un­der­stand the ra­tio­nale be­hind why you’re giv­ing it and whether it’s safe to be used in con­junc­tion with any other feeds and sup­ple­ments you’re feed­ing. Do your home­work and choose wisely. Once you’ve de­cided on a sup­ple­ment, fol­low the feed­ing rec­om­men­da­tions on the la­bel so that you feed it at the cor­rect lev­els.

Why he needs mi­cronu­tri­ents

A lack or im­bal­ance of mi­cronu­tri­ents — or, in some cases, toxic lev­els of them — can lead to fail­ure to thrive, poor hoof qual­ity, a dull coat, weight loss, de­pres­sion, de­hy­dra­tion, hair loss and, in the worst-case sce­nario, death. Cer­tain vi­ta­mins and min­er­als, such as vi­ta­mins A and D, sodium, cop­per, zinc, iron, io­dine and se­le­nium, are harm­ful if fed in ex­cess, so be ex­tremely care­ful when

feed­ing mul­ti­ple feeds or feed sup­ple­ments. The most com­monly seen signs of vi­ta­min im­bal­ance are poor hoof qual­ity and a dull coat, which are easy to spot, so if you no­tice th­ese and are un­sure of the cause, call your vet. A nu­tri­tion­ist (ei­ther in­de­pen­dent or from a feed man­u­fac­turer), will be happy to give ad­vice on what to feed your horse for his par­tic­u­lar life­style. Many man­u­fac­tur­ers have free helplines you can call for ad­vice. A horse’s mi­cronu­tri­ent re­quire­ments will change de­pend­ing on his lifestage. Sup­ple­men­ta­tion is par­tic­u­larly use­ful for: ● Breed­ing mares ● Young­stock ● Com­pe­ti­tion horses ● Older horses ● Horses and ponies with lamini­tis Sup­ple­ments are fed as ei­ther gran­ules or pel­lets, a block or brick, or a bal­ancer. A nu­tri­tion­ist will be able to help you de­cide which would be best suited to your horse.

The feed pack­ag­ing will tell you all you need to know Un­like hu­mans, horses don’t tend to be­come de­fi­cient in iron as the amount in their for­age typ­i­cally ex­ceeds their daily re­quire­ment. So, it’s im­por­tant not to feed sup­ple­ments that con­tain iron with­out hav­ing con­sulted a nu­tri­tion­ist first, as this could cause tox­i­c­ity.

Es­sen­tial nu­tri­ents are in ev­ery­thing your horse eats

Horses will need dif­fer­ent amounts of mi­cronu­tri­ents at var­i­ous stages of their lives

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.