News

** Announcing the Launch of New Remote Consultancy Service **

04 Mar
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Fiona has just launched a new telephone / email consultancy service for those people that she cannot reach!

It requires photos and descriptions of your equine’s routine, diet and management. Fiona will analyse the information and come back to you with tailored, feeding recommendations. All for just £68!

So get in touch today!

The ‘Weighty’ Issue of Correct Worming

11 Apr
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When it comes to worming your equine, correct dosing is critical.  A common mistake when treating horses is under-dosing.  If you do under-dose your horse, the product will not work efficiently and could lead to resistance.  It is essential that you ascertain the accurate weight of your horse and treat them accordingly.

Call today for a simple weighing session – Just £15 per equine – to remove all doubts and eliminate any risk!

 

The low-down on Insulin Resistance

11 Apr
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Certain equine nutritional diseases are more prevalent in the Spring and Autumn due to a raised sugar content in the new grass growth ‘flush’.

It’s all linked to insulin levels.  Insulin is responsible for the storage of sugars as fat in the equine body.  As fat stores develop through the spring and summer months, hormones are released that reduce the effects of insulin – so called ‘insulin-resistance’. This insulin resistance then enables the breakdown of energy stores previously amassed from the winter months.  As such, our natives breeds such as Shetlands and Welsh Mountains, have evolved to cope with cycles of weight gain through the summer and weight loss during the winter.  Temporary insulin resistance is therefore, beneficial.

However, domestication means that our native breeds no longer have to cope with cycles of winter feed deprivation (as we tend to feed them during the winter months).  They therefore become more and more insulin resistant and if insulin cannot function as it should, the equine body’s response is to produce more of it. So, we end up with a huge hormonal imbalance which triggers laminitis.

This condition whereby horses and ponies develop fat deposits and then insulin resistance is referred to as ‘equine metabolic syndrome’ or EMS and is similar to human type II diabetes.

Please do get in touch for further information if you have any concerns about insulin resistance and schedule an individual consultation.

The Hidden Benefits of feeding Sugar Beet Pulp

11 Apr
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Sugar beet pulp is all too often labeled as a traditional feedstuff for the winter; representing a fantastic, cheap way of adding some bulk!  Whilst this is true in part, to look at sugar beet pulp in that way, neglects its nutritional characteristics  and the benefits that these can bring to your equine.

What is Sugar Beet Pulp (SBP)?

Sugar beet is a root vegetable.  The pulp, a by-product of sugar production, is dried (sometimes mixed with molasses), and is usually soaked before being fed.

It is available in a number of different forms – shreds, pellets/cubes and micronized flakes.  The shreds are generally soaked for 12 hours; the pellets/ cubes for 24 hours and the flakes, as little as 10 minutes.

The Nutritional Benefits for Equines

– Digestibility

SBP contains high levels of soluble fibre, including pectins, which are highly fermentable – thus, it is termed, a ‘highly digestible fibre’ or even, ‘superfibre’ – as the dry matter digestibility is approximately 80%.  (Hyslop, et al., 1998)

– Calcium Content

SBP can easily replace cereal grains in the diet as it is a more balanced feedstuff.  It is a ready source of calcium and has a calcium to phosphorus ratio of approximately 6:1, meaning it can help to balance the incorrect calcium to phosphorus ratios of cereal-based feeds. (MacLeod, 2007)

– Crude Protein (CP)

The CP of SBP is associated with the cell wall fraction of the plant and therefore, unlike other sources of protein, it is not digested in the small intestine, but instead, rapidly fermented in the hindgut – acting as a protein for the microbial population present there.  This increases their productivity and as such, SBP effectively acts as a natural pre-biotic.

In studies, this has been shown to stimulate fermentation, and as such, feeding SBP with a less digestible fibre (such as low-grade hay) can produce higher degradation values for the hay than if it was fed alone. (Moore-Colyer, 2008)

– Energy

As discussed, SBP is highly fermentable and digestible and therefore, higher in energy than traditional fibre feeds, such as hay or straw, both of which are rich in cellulose and not particularly fermentable.

The energy levels in SBP are similar to a medium-energy compound feed, yet the starch levels are much lower.

– A More Natural Feeding Choice

Starch-laid cereal grains (present in most compound feeds) are not natural feeds for horses.  None of the grasses or plants that equines will chose to consume in a feral situation are particularly high in starch.  SBP is a more natural alternative as a high-fibre food.

The Myth that SBP Contains Too Much Sugar / Protein

– Sugar

As the by-product of sugar production, SBP is what is left behind after the sugar has been extracted.  As such, unmolassed sugar beet has a low sugar content – 6.4% of the dry matter. (Moore-Colyer, 2009)

Molassed sugar beet has molasses added after processing; usually approximately 20%, which is equivalent to a total sugar content of 30% sugar in the final product. (Macleod, 2007)

– Protein

SBP provides approximately 10% protein.

When compared to other feeds, both of these values (molassed or not) are not particularly high in either sugar or protein.

The actual amount of a feed constituent (in this case, sugar) that a horse receives depends upon the amount of dry matter that is fed.  SBP tends to be soaked in about 4 times its weight in water.  Therefore, 1 kg of soaked SBP supplies just 200 g of actual sugar beet.

Nutrition Comparison

The following table highlights nutritional values of typical cereals in comparison to SBP.

 

Nutritional values as a portion of a straight-based diet for the working horse (i.e., what they contribute to the diet)

Cereal

DE Energy (MJ/kg)

Crude Protein %

Moisture %

Ca g/kg

P g/kg

Oats

11-12

9-12

12-15

0.7

3

Barley

12-13

9-10

12-15

0.6

3.3

Maize

13-15

8-9

12-15

0.2

3

Bran (Wheat)

10-11

13-15

10-15

1

12

Sugar-beet pulp

11-12

9-11

(88-90 dry), 15-25, soaked or boiled

6

1

Table 1 – Nutritional values of cereals and SBP.

(Adapted from Bishop, 2005)

Conclusion

SBP can offer a number of nutritional benefits to the equine diet and should be considered as a vital ingredient in rations, all year round.

Thelwell was right! …..Fat ponies are naughtier than slim ones! Learn More………

11 Apr
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An interesting new University study from Australia has just been issued and it’s findings outline what we all remember (and some of us know from experience!) from reading those childhood ‘Thelwell’ and ‘Penelope’ books when we were younger – overweight, under-exercised horses and ponies are naughtier than slim ones!

It concludes that very fat horses and ponies are three times more likely to misbehave in comparison to their slimmer counterparts.

The study, ‘Misbehaviour in Pony Club Horses: Incidence and Risk Factors’, published in April this year by the Equine Veterinary Journal (EVJ) is ground-breaking as it is the first paper of its kind to quantify the incidence of misbehaviour in a population of horses.