Roughage for horses
The impact of roughage in horses is often forgotten when talking about horse feed. It usually has to be the right pellet, muesli or cereal mix and the composition of the feeds or the optimal ratio between several of these products.
What is roughage?
Roughage contains stems, leaves, flowers and, possibly, carrots. Fresh roughage has a high water content and thus a low DS content. The most used roughage for horses are:
The crude fiber content of roughage is usually high. They have low energy levels. Due to the high crude fiber content, the horses must roughly chew roughage, causing regular saliva secretion that promotes digestion. In addition, chewing roughage will take a lot of time, which will lead the horses to distract. This can prevent the occurrence of certain vices, such as manger biting, the so-called weaving, etc.
What is the advantage of roughage?
By 1 kg of hay, 4 liters of saliva are produced. At one kg of oats this is only 1 liter. Saliva contains important bicarbonates, which form a buffer for the stomach wall. If a horse has not been fed for a long time, it produces a lot of stomach acid. If you get a lot of concentrate immediately, there is a risk of acidification: stomach ulcers and colic are the result. Therefore, hay must always be fed and then concentrate only.
At the horse testing company in Lelystad two groups of horses were investigated who had to perform light to moderate labor. One group got relative roughage (up to 11 kg), the other relatively little roughage and more concentrated feed. The conclusions that arose from this were that the endurance of the roughage group did not subside for the other group. The group with relatively little roughage and more concentrates was much more restless and showed more behavioral abnormalities.
The importance of roughage for horses
The importance of the correct roughage is underestimated by most people. The bulk of the ration should consist of roughage such as: grass, hay, lucerne or silage. The physiology of a horse is set to eat all day snack foods. Sufficient roughage is essential for good digestion. At an optimal ration, at least 60% of the ration consists of roughage. A horse being trained will in most cases not get a "hay bite". Always carry enough roughage. Directive: Give your horse 1 - 1.5 kg of roughage per 100 kg of body weight per day.
Due to the fact that the concentrates are more specific for each breed and type of horse, it is important to know which nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals and trace elements contain roughage, so you can tailor the feed to meet the overall need.
Extra information from PaardenSport> All the good of roughage
Text: Marike Jacobs
Photos: Carmen Nagtegaal All the good of roughage
Extra information from Hoefslag> Hay and other roughage
Text: Anneke Hallebeek
Photos: Arnd Bronkhorst