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Feeding Fibre in the Summer – making the best plan for health and performance with Fiber Fresh

Now that many areas are experiencing long hot summer days, this means pastures will be drying out and becoming depleted in volume, quality digestible protein and many essential nutrients that the horse needs in its diet on a daily basis. 

The dry matter (or in many cases dead matter), increases significantly in summer compared to all other seasons (Hirst RL 2012), resulting in a higher level of indigestible fibre being consumed.

The energy value of the pasture also significantly reduces in summer, which is why many of our competition horses which are normally kept on pasture can need higher energy concentrated feeds to perform at their best.   

However, for many mature horses in light work or turned out, the summer is really challenging from a holding condition perspective (there will always be exceptions). In most cases a daily token feed of a balancer pellet with a Fiber Fresh product will suffice.  It can also be a time where excitability from excess grass sugars starts to settle down.  However, summer does bring increased risk of pasture toxins, especially when conditions are humid with intermittent rainfall and/or heavy dews.

With all of that in mind, and particularly for those horses that are in full work, either in equestrian sports or racing, there are many benefits for including at least 1 Kg of Fiber Fresh per feed with the appropriate concentrate feed.  These benefits are numerous and are outlined below:

-Published NZ Studies show that there is a real benefit to providing a sufficient amount of a fermented forage such as Fiber Protect on overall gut health and reducing the potential impact or likelihood of ulcers.

-Lucerne (or Alfalfa as it is known in the USA), is the only forage commonly fed to horses that has higher levels of Calcium.  Many gut health/ulcer prevention supplements in the market have Calcium as an active key component.  Calcium is particularly useful as it assists in buffering the acidic conditions in the gut.  The best thing about using Fiber Fresh as a calcium source is that it is a natural forage source and very digestible. 

-Forages require chewing and chewing results in saliva production.  This is an important physiological function to help buffer the acidity of the gut – horses secrete stomach acid 24/7 and sufficient fibre in the diet will contribute to buffering activity in the gut.

-Published NZ studies show the nutritional superiority of fermented forage compared to dried forage, in both digestibility (less waste), and higher levels of essential amino acids such as Lysine, Methionine and Cysteine.

-As fermented forage contains trapped intracellular moisture, this is an excellent way to increase passive water intake.  So this is a great alternative for those equines that are not good at drinking sufficient water when away from home.  NZ Studies show that horses fed Fiber Fresh consume 8% more water than when only offered dried forage. Adequate hydration is important for the performance and recovery of the equine athlete.

-Fiber Fresh forages are dust and toxin free. Crop management in the production of Fiber Fresh products is international best practice and the purity of the crops is exceptional.

-The sugar and starch levels of both Fiber Protect and Fiber Ezy are much lower than cool season grasses such as Timothy, Broomegrass and Cocksfoot.  Typically, Fiber fresh fermented forages sit around 3% Kg/DM (approx. 1.3% Kg as fed).  Each batch is independently tested.

-Fiber Fresh forages retain higher levels of Vitamin E, an important nutrient for horses, especially as pasture dries off.  Most Vitamins are heat and light sensitive (UV/drying depletes them)

-Fermented forages will also increase the digestible energy level of the diet which can be helpful during those extended periods of being away from home during the summer competition season, providing a consistent sustained source of energy via fibre.

-Ensuring the hindgut is kept full with fibre will aid in the reduction of digestive upsets and conditions associated with not enough fibre in the diet

-And finally, the texture and aroma of Fiber Fresh fermented forages is generally found to be very palatable and is great for encouraging even the fussiest equine to eat

One last great hint is that before working or travelling your horse, give them a feed of Fiber Fresh which helps to put a fibre mat on the stomach to prevent acid splash, with the added advantage of contributing to hydration and overall gut health.

 Enjoy the settled summer weather!



 

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