Ask H&H: feeding different types together

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    Q: My two horses are very different types with different feeding requirements, but they are turned out in a field together and therefore have to be fed together.

    This means that they end up eating each other’s feed.

    One is a 16-year-old cob, who gets fat easily, while the other is an energetic arab who struggles to keep weight on.

    Is there any one feed I can use which will suit both of their dietary needs?

    Your two horses have different feed requirements from a calorie point of view, although they both have the same requirement for bulk.

    If you really cannot feed them differently for their different needs, then we need to think how you can manage them, so that one horse uses up more calories and the other uses less.

    Here are some of my thoughts:

    On your horses’ field

    • While they both have to be in the same field, would it be possible to use electric fencing to divide the field into unequal sizes, so the ‘fatter’ cob has access to less grass and your arab to more?

    • Alternatively, can you muzzle your cob for some of the time, to restrict his grass intake?

    • Can you rug up the arab at night? Horses use about 80% of their feed energy staying warm, so if they are cold they ‘burn’ off the fat; if they are warm and rugged then the feed energy will be converted to fat

    On your horses’ shape

    • When we see our own horses every day, we don’t always notice changes that occur over a period of time, so I would advise fat scoring and weighing your horses fortnightly

    • Your arab, as you know, will always have a leaner outline, whereas your cob will always look bigger due to his bigger skeleton. Despite this difference in outline, they may still have the same fat score

    On your horses’ workload

    • Your cob will burn off more fat if you work him in a steady but active walk — fast work makes a horse fit, but doesn’t burn off fat so effectively

    • A lighter exercise regime for your arab would use up less calories, meaning excess energy can be stored as fat

    On feeding your horses

    • You need to feed your cob less calories, so I would catch him and hold him until your arab finishes eating, ensuring that one gets the feed required and the other does not get excess

    • The only thing your cob needs on top of forage is vitamins and minerals — you can provide these by hand feeding him Equi-Bites, to avoid the temptation to give him anything in the bucket

    • Your arab needs calories from slow energy releasing ingredients. If she is working and competing consider Staypower Cubes; if she is in light work, then high fibre nuts

    • While we are not aiming to change the characters of your horses, your Arab might react well to Placid or Take Control supplements if the weight loss is stress-related

    I appreciate that we haven’t actually recommended the same feed…. you could theoretically use pasture mix for both horses, as it is a great allround feed, but my advice would be to feed the arab as above and stick to hand fed Equi-Bites for the cob.

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