Feeding for Condition
Article last updated: 3rd February 2021
What’s your interpretation of feeding for condition? For some, conditioning feed for horses means feeding to encourage weight gain. For others, conditioning feed for horses means feeding for muscle, or skin, coat and hoof condition. Whatever your horse’s needs when it comes to the best conditioning feed for horses Dengie has the answers.
Feeding for top-line
When we talk about feeding for overall condition, one of the first things that springs to mind is feeding for top-line muscle condition. Firstly, it is important to understand that nutrition isn’t the only piece of the puzzle when it comes to building muscle and you will also need to focus on fitness and training to build your horse’s strength.
When it comes to the best conditioning feed for horses, the main requirement for building muscle is protein. Your horse will obtain protein from a variety of sources in their diet; grass and hay will contribute significant amounts of protein which can be topped up with the bucket feed. It is not only the amount of protein that is important to your horse, quality matters too. Protein is made up of amino acids, some of which need to be supplied in the diet as the horse can’t make them itself. These are called essential amino acids and lysine is particularly important as it is a limiting amino acid: if the horse has insufficient lysine then protein synthesis and therefore muscle development would be limited. Alfalfa is an excellent source of good quality protein which provides the building blocks for muscle and is found in greatest amounts in the pure alfalfa products in the Dengie Alfa-A range of fibre feeds making those the best conditioning feed for horses.
It is also important to ensure that sufficient energy is provided in the ration to ensure your horse isn’t diverting protein away from muscle development to fuel work. The best way to determine whether your horse has sufficient energy for the work that they are doing is their level of fat cover – use a body condition scoring system regularly and aim to keep your horse around a 3 on the 5-point scale. When considering the best conditioning feed for horses’ people often worry about fizzy behaviour. For conditioning horse feed without fizz, choose feeds based on the slow-release energy sources fibre and oil.
Older horses naturally lose muscle mass as they age, especially if their exercise is reduced, they have musculoskeletal problems or PPID. When considering conditioning feed for older horses maintaining bodyweight in conjunction with supplying sufficient good quality protein is just as important.
Feeding for skin, coat & hoof condition
When it comes to skin, coat and hoof condition a balanced diet is key. Horses on a forage only diet or those fed less than the recommended quantity of a fortified feed, should be supplemented with a Dengie broad-spectrum vitamin and mineral supplement or balancer appropriate to the horse’s workload. Dengie’s balancers and supplements all contain added biotin to supply 15mg daily for a 500kg horse: a level that research suggests is beneficial for hoof quality.
For show coat shine in addition to a balanced diet, supplementary oil can help. Dengie Performance+ Balancer contains micronised linseed, which supplies beneficial omega-3 essential fatty acids for exceptional coat shine.
For those that prefer the all-in-one option Dengie’s Healthy range of fibre feeds are the answer. For horses in light work or that hold their weight well Healthy Hooves or Healthy Hooves Molasses Free are the most appropriate option, whilst for working horses or those that struggle to maintain weight Healthy Tummy is more appropriate. When fed at the recommended quantity of 500g per 100kg of your horse’s bodyweight the Healthy range of fibre feeds not only provide a fully balanced ration but contain oil for coat shine and biotin at the level you would find in a hoof supplement.
For friendly feeding advice contact the Dengie Feedline on 01621 841188, complete the Feed Advice Form or Live Chat.