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Ask the Nutritionist: Dr. Getty's Forum for Equine Nutrition

   Welcome to my forum. 

Here you will find more than 6 years of questions and my answers. It is searchable and offers a great deal of information. 

Currently, I am discontinuing new questions. This may change in the future, but in the meantime, please know that It has been a true pleasure serving you. 

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All the best,

 Dr. Getty 


Ask the Nutritionist: Dr. Getty's Forum for Equine Nutrition
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Winter Feeding in the UK

Hi there

My 20 y/o Arab X Dartmoor lives out all year round and has always been a good doer. However, in Feb of this year he lost weight, had a gut infection, anaemia and a course of antibiotics, and subsequent laminitis. (The first time he has ever been unwell in his life!). All this in the space of a month.

Prior to this he was on molassed chaff and a cereal mix for veterans. After the laminitis, I put him on Dengie Hi-Fi lite and a balancer (saracen), plus oil. he's done very well on this all year - he's in light work.

He hasn't had any problems since, but I am desperate for him not to lose condition again this winter. I have now put him on dengie Hi Fi lite with added sugar beet pulp (Speedi Beet from Masham Micronised Feeds) and the balancer, and plan to give him this all over the winter, plus hay. He has two feeds a day and will have hay in winter when it is colder - but not ad lib, as his feed companions for vaious reasons don't have that much hay. His grazing is adequate but not amazing.

My questions are, will the Dengie hi Fi and Sugar beet keep him going on their own, or should I continue with the balancer too? He's currently also on a powdered oil supplement (only as it was given to me for free to use up!) but I assume that the balancer actually cancels out the need for a supplement?

Plus, now the risk of laminitis is low, should I change from Hi Fi Lite to a more conditioning chaff, perhaps something molassed?

I aim for 2% of his body-weight (around 450kg), and at the moment he's on just over a 3:1 ratio of chaff / sugar beet pulp.

Hope you can advise me!

Thanks very much

Re: Winter Feeding in the UK

Hello SG,

The goal should be to increase his energy intake, but not from sugars and starches. Therefore, I would not recommend that you feed a molassed chaff. Chaff offers very little digestible energy, so instead, add more digestible forages such as alfalfa hay. The Dengie Hi Fi Lite is high in alfalfa and it is an excellent feed. However, you do need to continue with a multi vitamin/mineral supplement, so the balancer should be continued.

Can you tell me how much fat content is in the balancer? I expect that it is not nearly as high as the powdered oil supplement you are feeding. Tell me more about the powdered oil – what type of oil is it and how much are you feeding?

So, bottom line – He is getting more chaff than he needs – Chaff is a “filler” to slow eating but it doesn’t provide the energy he requires to maintain his weight. Instead, feed a digestible forage – Dengie feeds are good. And, beet pulp is also fine. If there is any way for you to permit him to graze on hay as much as he wants, that would be ideal. Horses need to eat continually throughout the day. That is the way their digestive systems are made. If they go hours without eating, their risk of colic and even laminitis is greatly increased.

All the best,

Dr. Getty