Horses are living longer and in many cases are outliving their teeth.
Loose, worn and missing teeth can all make chewing difficult and ultimately slow the horse down when eating fibrous material. Dental issues are not just confined to older horses though. The apparent increase in the number of horses of all ages with diastemas (abnormal gaps between teeth) means that many horse owners are seeking alternatives to long length forage. As forage should make up at least half of every horse’s diet, it is no surprise that when they simply can’t eat it as easily any more, weight loss and colic can occur. A study funded by Dengie showed that when high fibre materials were provided in a form the horse could manage, they were able to consume just as much as a horse with normal dentition.
The answer to this is it depends on what is in the bucket! If you are using a chopped fibre feed such as Alfa-A Oil then it is very voluminous and so a bucketful is probably about 1.5kgs (check this number!). The key thing is also that it is a high fibre feed and so can be thought of in the same way as forage – you wouldn’t be worried about feeding a bucketful of hay. High fibre feeds don’t overload the digestive system in the same way that cereal based feeds can and so it is perfectly acceptable to feed them in bigger quantities in one bucket. In fact, if your horse spends all night eating a big bucket of chopped fibre, it is a much more natural way to feed than giving a small meal of cereals. Horses would spend 16-18 hours a day grazing and the more we can replicate this in the stable the better.
With cereal based feeds, giving more than 1.5kgs in each feed is likely to reduce the efficiency with which the nutrients are absorbed and increases the risk of digestive upsets. It is far better to introduce a 4th feed than carry on with 3 large meals.
When horses are stabled hay and haylage are often their main fibre source. The long length of these forages can sometimes cause a veteran horse problems as their teeth become less efficient.
Regular dental care by a qualified equine dental technician or vet is essential to a horse or pony’s overall health, comfort and performance.
A high fibre diet is the best thing for your horse. For a trouble-free winter take a look at the range of fibre feeds from Dengie.
Avoid poor teeth and digestion with a complete horse feed for the older horse or pony.