AQHA Magazine September/October 2018 Sep_Oct_2018_1-52_proof_FINAL (1) - Page 37

balanced by feeding them. If you require assistance or advice on using a type of forage you are unfamiliar with, make efforts to contact an equine nutritionist for some profes- sional advice and assistance. This service is available free of charge, year-round from Kentucky Equine Research on 1800 772 198 or email In terms of bucket feed, there are a couple of high fibre ingredients that can be added to increase the bulk of the diet and supplement limited hay intakes: Grain and seed hulls: The polished hulls of oats, lupins, and sunflowers can become available during times of drought and some can be used to increase the roughage content of the diet. Whilst many of these by prod- ucts have little digestible fibre or dietary energy, they do add bulk and can replace some of the chaff that would usually be used to bulk out the hard feed ration. Hulls can be dusty, so must be dampened prior to feeding and may need the addition of a little molasses to increase palatability and intake. They should be mixed well with the grain and chaff mix. Oat hulls should be avoided since they are sharp and can pierce the horse’s gums and cause mouth ulcers and infection. Super Fibres: These are highly digestible fibre sources such as beet pulp provide a source of slow release energy from the fermentation and production of volatile fatty acids by the microbial population of the horse’s hindgut. Bran and pollard: A traditional feed for horses, bran and pollard has a couple of problems to do with the high phosphorus and low calcium levels. Bran has very little digestible energy, has less fibre than oats on a volume basis and is only really useful to add volume to a ration. Pollard has a little more energy but has even low- er fibre levels than bran and needs careful balancing for calcium. If bran and pollard are to be used as a bulker, then a calcium supplement such as KER Bone Food Plus should be added to balance calcium levels. Commercial fibre mixes: These are available in the form of sweet-feeds with a high proportion of added chaff, for example Barastoc Com- plete Performer. These sweet-feeds usually have a vitamin and mineral premix added to help fill the gaps left by straight hay and grains. Due to the chaff present in these feeds, the fibre content is higher and can aid in slowing the horse down when ingesting these feeds due to the in- creased chewing required. These types of commercial feeds can be used to partly replace some of the hay or chaff that would normally be fed. Check the fibre content on the bag tag, and chose a feed with a fibre content of around 10-15% or more if the sole aim is to increase fibre and bulk. Be careful to adhere to the manufacturers recommended feeding rates, and if you have any questions about maximum feeding rates for your type of horse, contact the manufacturer for guidance. Energy To keep horses healthy and in good condition you will need to provide sufficient dietary energy. Horses should be body condition scored regularly by their owners. If you are unsure how-to body condition score your horse, contact the team at Kentucky Equine Research for as- sistance on 1800 772 198 or email . When pasture availability is limited, and horses are receiving supple- mentary, many horses in drought conditions will need supplementary feeding in order to maintain condi- tion. After forage, most horse owners look to grains or premixed feeds to provide energy. The dangers of too much starch (i.e. too much grain) will be discussed shortly, but suffice to say that when hard feed is provided, it is best to try and minimise grain, and use energy sources that are con- sidered to be ‘safer’ such as fats and digestible fibres. Whether you decide to make up your own grain mix, or buy a commercial pre-mixed feed, care must be taken to introduce new feeds slowly and in sensible amounts. Commercial feeds can be an economi- cal and hassle-free way of providing a balanced diet safely through peri- ods of drought. Prices may increase slightly through dry periods, but not by the same margin as forages. Whichever feed you decide on, use one with energy levels designed for horses in the level and type of work that your horse is doing. If you have a spelling horse, then a feed designed September • October • 2018 • The Australian Quarter Horse Magazine • 37