Monthly Archives: December 2014

Horse Of The Week – Floating Angel.

Floating Angel (Nadia)…

Nadia

Floating Angel (Nadia) ridden by owner, Janine Hagger.

Floating Angel (Nadia) ridden by owner, Janine Hagger.

Floating Angel (Nadia) is a 7-year-old, 16hh, Thoroughbred mare owned for the past 2 ½ years by Janine Hagger.

Janine explains “Nadia is a very sensitive ex-racehorse, having tried various calmers in the past to no avail, I decided to opt for Performance – Precision & Focus because of its multi action formulation. Since feeding this supplement Nadia has successfully won her first 1m05 class. Overall she is more relaxed, happier in herself and suppler. This supplement seems to give you everything, she sweats a lot but I no longer worry about this as I know this supplement has electrolytes too”.

A FREE 10kg Performance – Precision & Focus is on the way to Nadia for being our Horse of the Week.

Each week, the Feedmark team select a horse of the week from reviews, letters and emails sent to them. If you would like your horse to feature, then please send your horse’s details in to [email protected] or go online and write a review.

Horse Of The Week – Rosi.

Rosi…

Rosi, with her last foal Zebby.

Rosi, with her last foal Zebby.

Rosi is a 15hh, 21-year-old Irish Draught x Thoroughbred mare, who was bred by her owner Yvette Wheeler.

Yvette explains “Unfortunately on the day she was born she got caught up in some brambles and then attacked by crows which left her unable to have a ridden career. However, she has been a wonderful broodmare, always the perfect mum. I believe she is one of the last granddaughters still alive of the famous Irish Draught stallion King Of Diamonds. She had her last foal 3 years ago who is with her in the photo, his name is Zebby whom I have kept”.

Yvette originally used Zerobute 10 years ago but recently started using it again for Rosi, with excellent results. She describes it as “does exactly what it says on the tub”.

A FREE 1kg Zerobute is on its way to Rosi for being our Horse of the Week!

Each week, the Feedmark team select a horse of the week from reviews, letters and emails sent to them. If you would like your horse to feature, then please send your horse’s details in to [email protected] or go online and write a review.

Filled Legs

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During the winter months it is not uncommon for an owner to go to the stable and encounter their horse with lower legs looking like tree trunks! Swelling of lower limbs is prevalent in stabled horses, and can be down to a number of causes:

If there is swelling in just one leg it may be down to be a serious problem such as infection due to trauma/injury, or Ulcerative Lymphangitis. If this is the case, you may need to consult your vet. This swelling is less likely to decrease with movement, and may be accompanied by one or all of the following symptoms; high temperatures, loss of appetite, sweating, obvious pain, colic type problems

However, if the swelling does not seem to be painful or overly warm, is diffuse throughout the lower leg, and more than one limb is affected, it is likely to be a less serious problem, often referred to as Sporadic Lymphangitis. The horse may be stiff, but is not truly lame. This normally occurs after periods of inactivity, e.g. after being stabled overnight, and is more common in older horses. With this type of Lymphangitis, swelling is usually diffuse and may affect different limbs to different extents, and usually subsides with turn out or riding.

To reduce the likelihood of your horse getting filled legs:

  • Try to keep standing in to a minimum- turn out as much as possible, using a school or concrete pad if fields are not available.
  • If your horse must be stabled for long periods, try to keep them moving by exercising, or if they can’t be ridden walking in hand, using a horse walker to promote fluid dispersion.
  • Bandaging the legs will help to reduce swelling
  • Certain herbs can also help to stimulate the lymphatic and circulatory systems

For more advice please call 0800585525 and speak to one of our friendly team, or go to our website.

Olivia Colton MSc

Nutritional and Technical Coordinator

Mud glorious mud?!

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At this time of year it is nigh on impossible to keep your horse looking clean and tidy, with mud sticking to every available inch, and horses turned out looking immaculate get brought in from the field with dirt in the most unlikely places! For most people this is simply annoying and time consuming, but for owners of horses prone to mud fever, it can be a nail biting experience waiting to see if their horse will develop it, or if this year they can stop the problem occurring.

What is Mud Fever?

Mud fever is a term commonly used to describe Pastern Dermatitis. Dermatitis simply means inflammation of the skin; and Pastern Dermatitis, or Mud Fever, is a term used to describe various symptoms that commonly occur on the bulb of the heel or the pasterns, but can spread higher up the leg, or anywhere on the body.  These problems are usually caused by bacteria which ordinarily live on the skin of the horse, feeding off waste products. On healthy skin, a population of these bacteria exist with no detrimental effects to the host. However, if there is any abrasion to the skin, such as that caused by boots that have rubbed, a cut or scratch, or skin being harmed by over exposure to adverse, wet conditions, bacteria can enter through the skin and cause an infection. Fungal infection and mites can also be responsible for the infections. This infection, known as Pastern Dermatitis, can represent itself in various forms, from patches of matted hair, scabs and minor swelling to pustular expulsions, sometimes accompanied by lameness. If the infection becomes more serious, the horse may become lethargic, losing appetite and looking generally run down, and you should contact your vet.

How can I treat Mud Fever?

In mild cases, effective treatment can include clipping off excess hair, using an antibacterial leg scrub (such as hibiscrub) and keeping the affected limb dry. Protecting the area using an oil based cream may also be beneficial if the horse is going back into mud; however these creams can also provide an ideal environment for bacteria to multiply between the greasy layer and the skin, so use with some reservation.

In more severe cases, antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications may be necessary alongside a stricter management regime, such as being permanently kept away from mud.

What factors may predispose horses to mud fever?

Damp and mild conditions provide the ideal environment for bacteria population growth, and this includes standing in deep mud or a dirty bed  for long periods. Sweat under tack/ rugs can also encourage this, as can over-washing of legs, especially without drying adequately afterwards. OIder horses and those suffering from a depressed immune system may be predisposed to these problems.

How can I reduce the risk of Mud Fever occurring?

As with most problems, prevention is better than cure!

  • Try to keep legs as clean and mud-free as possible, and if you can, turn out in a rubber school or concrete pad when mud is very deep. However, if you have no option but to turn out in muddy paddocks, it is debatable whether you are better to wash legs off daily (hence wetting legs on a regular basis), or let the legs dry naturally then gently brushing the mud off. Using waterproof leg wraps can eliminate the need for this. If you do need to wash the legs, ensure you use an antibacterial wash, and thoroughly dry legs after washing to help reduce the risk of mud fever.
  • Check for mud fever daily to help pick up on the first signs, to make the infection much easier to deal with.
  • In addition to the above management practices, feeding a supplement to keep skin healthy and supple can be very beneficial in cases of mud fever, as this helps to reduce skin abrasions, from which the infections can penetrate the skin. Omega oils are well known for their beneficial effects on skin and provision of additional B-Vitamins are also recommended. Certain herbs can also promote healthy skin.

 

Olivia Colton MSc, Nutritional and Technical Coordinator

For advice or help on this subject, or if you have any other nutritional queries please call our team on 0800 585525 and we would be happy to help.

The Danger of Frosty Grass!

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Frosty grass can contain high levels of Fructans

Sugar levels in grass are constantly changing, and it is well-known that the Autumn and Spring flush are times that are potentially problematic for grazing.

Consuming excessive amounts of fructans (the stored sugar in grass) is considered a trigger factor for laminitis. These sugars are produced by the grass via a process known as photosynthesis.  Photosynthesis is a chemical reaction where carbon dioxide and water are converted into sugar and oxygen, and in order to fuel this reaction, light energy is needed, which is absorbed by the green pigment in plants known as chlorophyll. Because sunlight is necessary for the reaction to take place, photosynthesis only occurs during daylight hours. The sugars are produced in the leaves and used as fuel for respiration, but any excess sugar is converted into a storage carbohydrate, known as fructan, which is then stored in the stem.

Overnight these sugars are used to provide energy for growth, and extra sugars not used are stored, usually in the lower stem (the 2 inches above soil level). If, however, the temperature drops below 4.5˚C, growth does not occur, and so the sugar remains in high concentrations in the grass.

For this reason, sunny days followed by cold nights means that sugar levels in grass are high, and they continue to rise if this weather continues for a period of time. This effect is worsened for horses on short, over grazed grass, as the sugars are stored in the lower stem, next to the earth.

As a quick guide, fructan levels are:

HIGH in stressed, over grazed pastures

HIGH when night temperatures drop lower than 4.5 ˚C

HIGH in the afternoons/evening when it has been sunny

LOW in cloudy, rainy weather conditions

LOW in the mornings when nights are warm and days are sunny

If you have a horse or pony prone to laminitis it is wise to not let them graze during high risk times. Instead, keep them stabled or ideally on non-grass turnout. Feedmark Fibre blocks are a great low starch and sugar way to keep them entertained, especially if you put them in a haylage net!

To make sure that your laminitic pony is still receiving a balanced diet without getting any grass, you could feed Prolamin, the only two part laminitis supplement that provides a vitamin and mineral supplement alongside beneficial antioxidant herbs that support the circulatory system.

Olivia Colton MSc,

Nutritional and Technical Coordinator, Feedmark

For advice or nutritional guidance please call 0800 585525 to talk to one of our nutritional advisors, or look at our website.

Winter tips for poor doers

Muddy conditions require your horse to work harder and use more energy

Muddy conditions require your horse to work harder and use more energy

Cold, muddy, wet and windy weather conditions all increase a horse’s daily maintenance energy requirements; which can be raised by up to 30%.

This is due to a multitude of factors; extra energy is used to maintain a correct body temperature, horses at grass spend less time grazing, instead putting their back side into the elements and more effort is needed to move when pulling feet out of thick mud.

For horses that are good doers, such as native types, this can be a useful way to help them lose a bit of excess weight gained over the summer. However, older horses and poor doers can very quickly lose condition, which can be hard to regain over the winter months.

In order to combat this there are a few simple rules to help your horses stay in good condition throughout the winter:

Providing correctly fitting waterproof rugs with filling will help to keep your horse warm and toasty, reducing the amount of energy needed to keep them at the correct temperature. It is worth remembering that a rain sheet will flatten the hair underneath the rug, and can make your horse colder than having no rug at all!  If your horse is living out through the winter adequate shelter is a must; thick tall hedges can provide a wind break, and wooden field shelters are ideal.

While traditionally people increased their horse’s hard feed rations in the winter, the majority of  heat is generated from the fermentation of forage in the hind gut, so access to hay or haylage is very important when it comes to keeping your horse warm this winter! If your horse has ad-lib access to a good quality forage, and is still dropping weight adding an energy dense food source to the diet, such as micronised linseed, or oil, can help to encourage weight gain. If you are the owner of a good doer, and are concerned that constant access to hay may cause your horse to gain weight, soaking the hay for 30 minutes- 1 hour greatly reduces sugar levels, so you can still feed large amounts of forage.

Horses can be put off drinking icy water, and have been shown to drink larger amounts of warm water if offered, reducing risk of colic and choke, especially when large amounts of hay or haylage are being consumed.  Providing warm water and packing straw or insulating materials around a bucket can help to stop water freezing.  Make sure you provide a free access salt lick, and consider providing salt or electrolytes in your horses feed to keep them drinking adequate levels to avoid impaction.

 

Olivia Colton MSc

Nutritional and Technical Coordinator, Feedmark

Keep your horse hydrated this winter!

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We are used to worrying about our horses drinking enough in the blazing heat of summer, but what less people are aware of is that hydration is also a massive issue for your horses over the winter, as freezing temperatures can put your horse off drinking, leading to complications such as dehydration and colic.

When horses are at pasture, a lot of their daily water requirements are met from eating succulent vegetation, but in the winter when grass is scarce and dry forages such as hay are often the main food source, encouraging your horse to drink is even more vital.

Frozen buckets, drinkers and troughs will all stop your horse from accessing water, so try a few tricks to help stop ice formation: placing a tennis ball in an outside trough can help stop them icing over, packing straw around buckets in stables can help reduce freezing, and insulation around automatic drinker pipes are all useful. In extreme conditions, you can buy heaters for buckets and troughs.

Even when water is ice free, many horses do not enjoy drinking freezing cold water! It has been shown that horses will drink 40% more warmed water than cold in cold weather. If your yard doesn’t have a hot water tap, try adding a kettle full of boiling water to a almost full bucket. The other bonus of providing warm water is that it freezes less quickly! Even though scrubbing out buckets is not appealing in colder weather, it is still vitally important that water is clean and fresh, so provide fresh water in clean buckets daily.

Consider feeding a soaked feed through the winter, such as soaked alfalfa pellets or sugar beet, as this will also increase your horse’s daily water intake. You could also increase your horse’s fibre and water intake by feeding them a fibre block soaked in 5lts of water. Providing a free-access salt lick is also important through the winter, as the salt can help to increase their thirst.

Olivia Colton MSc

Nutritional and Technical Coordinator, Feedmark

If you would like any further information or advice please call our free helpline on 0800 585525 to speak to one of our nutritional advisors, or look at our website.

 

 

Hay, soaked hay, steamed hay or haylage… what is best for your horse?

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We are advised that feeding a high forage diet is the way forward, but with so many options available to us how do we know what is right for our horses?

What is the difference?!

Hay and haylage are both made from grass, but the processing method of each is different.

Hay is cut and then turned until it is dry, to give a finished product with a dry matter of 85-90%. This means there is a low risk of it becoming mouldy during storage, but increases levels of dust and some nutrients are lost.

Haylage is cut but then baled and wrapped in layers of polythene before it reaches the same dryness as hay. This gives a product with much higher moisture content, and a dry matter of 55-65%.  Due to this higher water content, more haylage (kg) than hay should be fed to ensure that the horse is receiving enough fibre. However, if the haylage is fed to meet the fibre requirement, it does mean that more energy and protein are also being given to the horse.

When to feed haylage:

Haylage is a very good forage to feed horses requiring a dust controlled environment,  those that are poor doers and horses with high energy requirements, such as endurance horses, hunters, eventers and other horses in intense work. However, it is generally not advisable to feed to horses who require a calorie controlled or low protein diet. It can be very useful as it can be stored outside, and can be bought in small or large bales, but it does need to be used quickly once opened, so is not always practical for single horse owners.

When to feed dry hay:

In an ideal world if your horse has no existing health problems, is at their correct body weight and the hay is good quality, feeding dry hay is the easiest (and often cheapest) option. However, hay is often not ‘clean’ enough to advocate this- it is thought that most hay in the UK does need to be soaked or steamed to be of the quality that should be fed to horses.

If you are lucky and your hay is of good enough quality that you can feed it dry, you have the benefit of it being more palatable than soaked hay. It is also easier for the owner to deal with, there is less waste, and the hay retains the nutrients and calories that can be lost through soaking, such as protein, calcium, phosphorus, potassium and magnesium.

For certain horses with specific dietary needs this reduction of nutrients may be beneficial, however, for lots of horses this is not desired.

When to feed soaked or steamed hay:

If your horse has respiratory issues

Poor growing conditions, adverse harvest weather, and older equipment can lead to hay containing excessive levels of dust and mould spores that can be damaging to the respiratory system, and will make any existing problems worse. Steaming or soaking hay can reduce the levels of these particles by 88%.  As any steamed or soaked hay that is not eaten must be thrown away, waste can be high if your horse is a fussy eater, therefore if they are not overweight, and feeding haylage is suitable it is often a great option.

If your horse is overweight, or needing a low sugar diet

Horses and ponies with Laminitis, Cushing’s disease, EMS and those that are overweight all require a diet low in NSCs (non-structural carbohydrates, which are simple sugars, fructans and starch). While hay is not always thought of as a high sugar feed, many types, especially early cuts, can have NSC levels above the maximum recommended for ponies and horses with these issues. The diet for these horses and ponies should be forage based, and as many are on restricted grazing, hay will make up a large percentage of their diet, so it is imperative that the hay being fed is suitable. You can send hay for testing to check this, but it is important to remember that variations in soil types and time of cutting can really affect the results- so even hay cut from the same field can drastically differ.
By soaking hay for an hour these sugar levels can be reduced by 40%, and soaking for 12 hours has been shown to half the sugar levels again. Steaming hay will also reduce the levels of NSCs in the hay, but not as much as soaking does. It can also make hay more palatable, so while it is useful for horses needing to eat more, steaming hay may not be so ideal for overweight horses.

 

For more advice on what you should be feeding your horse, please contact our Nutritional advisors on: 0800 585 525

iStock_000008396954_SmallAs winter drags on, it leaves some horses looking a bit on the poor side- if your horse is one of these, read on!

There are various reasons why your horse may have dropped a bit of weight, and often by making easy diet and management changes you can help them to gain a few pounds. The first things to consider are your horse’s teeth, to check that there are no medical issues that may cause weight loss, and make sure that your horse isn’t suffering from a parasite burden.

Once you have ruled out any medical problems, you can start to adjust your horse’s diet. In order for your horse to gain condition they will need to consume more calories than they are using- you can do this by helping to reduce the calories they burn on a daily basis, or by increasing their daily calorie intake.

Lack of access to clean water and good quality forage can have a massive effect on a horse’s food intake, so make sure your horse has access to clean fresh water and any hay/haylage is of good quality and free from dust and mould. Forage should be provided ad-lib, and supplementing the diet with Pre-and Probiotics will help keep the bacteria population in the hind gut healthy, vital for fermentation of fibre and allowing your horse to get the most from their diet.

If your horse is already being fed ad-lib forage, or they refuse to eat any more, try other fibre sources to encourage them to eat a bit more. Hay, grass or alfalfa chaffs or cubes suit most horses and can be fed in high volumes without the negative effects of large amounts of high sugar/starch feeds. Unmolassed sugar beet is also a good safe energy source, and is a good base for addition of oil if necessary.

Oil is energy dense, providing more calories gram for gram than other feed sources, and adding oil to the diet will increase energy input in a safe and controlled manner (although not suitable for horses with liver issues). Horses are able to tolerate quite high levels of fat in the diet providing that it is slowly introduced (over the course of weeks). This oil should be balanced with additional anti-oxidants, to help neutralise the free radicals produced when oil is converted into energy!

Some horses, especially those in hard work, may require concentrate feed to help maintain or gain condition. To reduce the risks associated with this feed type look for one with high fibre and oil content, and feed in several small feeds per day rather than one large feed.

As well as increasing the energy content of the diet, you can reduce calories being burnt by considering the following:

If your horse looks very poor, and it is possible to reduce their workload it is often a good idea.

Keep them warm- cold weather increases a horse’s energy requirements, so if your horse is losing weight make sure that they are adequately rugged and have access to shelter. Digesting fibre produces heat, so provide ad-lib good quality forage to help to reduce the energy your horse needs to use to keep warm.

Stress is another reason for weight loss, and certain horses are naturally much more highly strung than others. If your horse is constantly on the go and can be tense about everything they will be burning more calories than a calmer horse. This can be made more obvious under stressful conditions, such as being stabled more than usual, losing a companion, moving yards or travel/competition, and in these situations weight can drop off nervy types rapidly. If your horse is unsettled, consider feeding a calming supplement to help take the edge of them, and hence stop wasting nervous energy.

Whatever combination of feed and supplements you choose to give your horse, it is very important that they are receiving a balanced diet, and are not lacking any vital nutrients. If you need help to make sure that your horse is getting what they need, or you would like advice on feeding please call us on 0800 585525, email [email protected], or use our online chat service, available at www.feedmark.com

 

 

Fussy Eaters

Horse Treats, Hay And Grain

Need some encouragement? 

If your horse is a fussy eater and you have eliminated any potentially harmful reasons behind this, there are various ways that you can tempt them to eat up!

As flight animals, horses are prone to ‘neophobia’- the fear of anything new or different! This means if you suddenly add in a strong smelling food or supplement to their feed bowl, they may be put off eating their meal. You can reduce the risk of this by introducing any new supplements and feeds very gradually, starting out with just a pinch, and slowly increasing to recommended feeding levels over the course of 5-7 days.

If you haven’t added anything new to the feed, but have increased the amount fed due to lack of grass or a higher work load, you may find that your horse is not finishing off their meals. In this case, splitting the daily feed rations into a number of smaller feeds per day can be very beneficial.

If your horse is still not wanting to eat, adding an appetising flavour to the food may encourage them to tuck in. Traditionally molasses would have been added, and for some horses this is a suitable method of encouragement, however, many horses and ponies now require a low-sugar diet, making this an inappropriate addition to the feed. Addition of Mint to the feed can be a good alternative, or Fenugreek, a curry spice which has been shown to be a preferred flavour for many horses. Adding apple juice to the feed may also tempt some horse’s appetites.  An imbalance of B-vitamins can also contribute to a lack of appetite, so feeding Brewer’s Yeast, which is rich in these may help your horse or pony eat. Micronised Linseed is also very appetising to horses, and is particularly useful as a safe source of energy if your horse is lacking in condition.

If it all goes wrong, and you have tried all the tips and appetisers above and your horse is still refusing to eat, often the best thing to do is to cut back to basics- remove all supplements and feeds and add them in very gradually one at a time. If this is done most horses will then start eating again. It is also a good way to highlight if there is a particular product that your horse is very adverse to. In this instance please call one of our nutritional advisers, who will be able to recommend an alternative product that your horse may be a bigger fan of!

Olivia Colton MSc
Nutritional and Technical Coordinator
Feedmark

0800 585525 feedmark.com [email protected]