Q&A: Feeding for energy

  • Q: Last year my five-year-old Welsh Section D lived out but now he’s stabled at night and exercised daily.

    I feed a scoop of horse and pony cubes, a handful of chaff and a scoop of sugar beet pulp each day. I also add salt and sunflower oil.

    He seems to do relatively OK but I’m worried he doesn’t have enough energy. I’m reluctant to change his diet as he once suffered colic when fed oats.

    The vet suggested feeding bran but I’ve been told by other owners this isn’t a good idea. Everyone on my yard seems to feed something different. What would you suggest?

    Christine Smy replies: If you are worried that your horse lacks energy there are several alterations you could make to his current diet.

    First of all, however, bear in mind that as he is now coming in at night he will be conserving the energy he would otherwise be using to keep himself warm outside.

    I would suggest you weigh the concentrates you are currently feeding.

    There are so many types of scoop on the market and each will hold a different volume of feed. You should be feeding around 4.5lb (2kg) of hard feed a day in order for your horse to obtain all the nutrients he requires.

    You can increase this to 6lb (2.7kg) if you require more energy but if he’s still lazy it may be better to replace up to 50% of the current ration with a medium energy cube. Continue to feed the chaff and sugar beet and oil.

    I would be surprised if oats alone caused your cob to suffer colic. Perhaps you introduced them too quickly or fed too much in one go.

    Most medium energy mixes will contain oats but a medium energy cube will not, so it would be betterto feed cubes.

    Bran can be fed to clear toxins out of the system after problems such as laminitis and colic but most nutritionists would not recommend it’s fed daily, preferring to advise a more appropriate balanced feed.

    Most feed companies have helplines and I would suggest you seek advice from a nutritionist rather than from other owners. What works for their horses may not work for yours.

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