All About Mashes
What is a ‘Mash’?
A mash refers to a feed that is soaked prior to feeding. Mashes are often made from fibre based ingredients but can also contain cereals and other ingredients such as herbs.
Historically, bran mashes for horses were fed irregularly after harder work such as a day’s hunting, as it was believed that it helped prevent digestive upsets by acting as a laxative. It is now much less popular as findings from research show that there is little or no laxative effect and making a sudden change to the diet is not desirable at any time and arguably least of all after a period of hard work when the aim should be to aid recovery by replenishing what has been used up.
Bran mashes for horses also have an inverse calcium to phosphorous ratio and so can unbalance the ratio in the total diet which can be counteracted by supplying other sources of calcium but, as there are better feeds widely available, bran has fallen out of favour.
There are now a wide range of mash feed for horses available on the market and range from those that can be used to promote weight gain which are often based on highly digestible fibres such as alfalfa, sugar beet or grass, to those that are low calorie which usually contain less digestible ingredients, such as straw.
Feeding a Mash for Dental Issues
The increase in the number of horses of all ages with dental issues such as diastemas, means that many horse owners are seeking alternatives to chopped fibre feeds. As forage should make up the majority of a horse’s diet, it is no surprise that when they simply can’t eat it as easily anymore, issues such as weight loss and colic can occur. Providing forage in a form that horses and ponies can easily manage, such as a high fibre mash, ensures that they are still receiving the fibre they need to keep them healthy. Some mash feed for horses can be fed in large quantities and used to entirely replace a horse’s hay or haylage.
Feeding a Mash to Aid Hydration
Feeding a mash, such as a high fibre mash for horses, can also increase the water intake in the horse’s diet, helping to aid hydration. This can be particularly beneficial over the winter months when horses are in for longer periods of time eating conserved forages such as hay which have a significantly lower water content compared to fresh grass. Horses are also often reluctant to drink when it’s colder; research has shown that horses tend to drink 6-14% less in colder weather so feeding a mash can help increase water intake.
Travelling and competing can also increase the risk of dehydration which can compromise both performance and recovery. In addition to this, some horses can become fussy about drinking when away from home. By feeding a high fibre mash for horses, you can get moisture in without requiring them to actually drink from a bucket.
Which of the Dengie Fibre Feeds can be Soaked to a Mash?
Alfa-Beet – a high-fibre, low sugar and starch, conditioning feed. The combination of alfalfa and unmolassed sugar beet pulp provides ‘slow release’ energy in the form of highly digestible fibre.
Grass Pellets – 100% naturally grown meadow grass with no added sugar. Naturally sweet they are ideal at tempting fussy feeders!
Alfalfa Pellets – simply 100% alfalfa – rich in calcium and other naturally occurring vitamins and minerals. As alfalfa is naturally low in sugar, Alfalfa Pellets are ideal for those that require a low sugar diet such as laminitis prone individuals including those with Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS) and Pituitary Pars Intermedia Dysfunction (PPID).
For further advice and guidance on what to feed your horse or pony please contact the Dengie Feedline on 01621 841188 or click here to fill out our Feed Advice Form.