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Weight Challenged: The Quest for Body Condition.

Tracy Soward-Amalfi: Equine Nutritionist

Many a horse owner has been faced with the unenviable challenge of a horse that needs to put on condition yet has trouble doing so. There are number of factors that can influence the rate at which a horse gains body condition such as past or present viral or bacterial infections, injuries, gastric ulcers, worm infestation, poor dental health and stable vices such as crib biting, wind sucking, pacing and weaving.Horses that have had an infection and or injury often have a depleted immune system due to the body using energy from food in the healing process. This can lead to muscle deterioration and loss of body condition.

The three main reasons affecting horses gaining body condition are worm infestation, gastric ulcers and poor dental health. Ulcers affect the horse’s ability to digest feed and create an uncomfortable experience for horses which can see them go off their feed. Ulcers are often aggravated by high grain diets as they affect the pH of the stomach making it more acidic. This results in a lower utilization and absorption of nutrients from the feed.

Poor dental health also reduces the horse’s ability to chew its feed and in turn reduces the body’s ability to absorb nutrients. This reduced absorption of nutrients is a result of the food particles being to big or particles that are not chewed adequately or at all and are often passed out whole i.e.: grains. If your horse is dropping large amounts of feed on the ground or is having trouble chewing chances are that the horses teeth are not in good health. Before commencing any conditioning diet ensure that the horse’s teeth are checked for correct wear and that any sharp points or hooks are removed. Always enlist the services of trained equine dentist or veterinarian if your horse requires any form of dental work.

The third main cause of weight loss and ill thrift is worm infestation. It is vital to ensure that your horse has a regular de-worming program. This will ensure that worm infestation is reduced and that the nutrients from your horses feed is absorbed by the horse and not the worms living within the horse digestive tract. Rotation of paddocks is also a great way of minimizing the transfer and continual infestation of worm species.

So you have checked all of the above and now wish to start on your quest for body condition for your equine friend. The journey starts by ensuring that you horse has a well balanced feed ration that meets all its energy and dietary requirements.

Good quality proteins and access to quality roughage are essential in the conditioning and maintance diet.Protein is the major structural component of blood, muscles and other body tissues and makes up about 80% of the horses body weight on a moisture and fat free basis. Proteins deliver amino acids and nitrogen that are necessary for tissue growth and development. During growth and repair horses require larger amounts of protein as protein can not be stored like glycogen or fat and therefore horses require an intake of protein daily. Diets where the protein levels are too low for the horses needs will end with protein breaking down in the tissues and this results in a loss of body condition. There a 22 amino acids and of these 10 are referred to as essential amino acids e.g. lysine and these need to be available in the horses diet as they can not be synthesized by the horses digestive processes or liver. Therefore good quality protein is an essential part of the conditioning diet.

Roughage is also an integral component of the horse’s diet and is essential for maximum digestive function. Without adequate fibre the horse will not be able to retain fluids effectively nor be able to produce volatile fatty acids that are required for energy and body heating and for the synthesis of B- group vitamins. It is necessary that your horse receives suitable roughage: concentrate ratio if they are to successfully gain condition and maintain it. It is here that many people are unsure and it is often easier to consult your veterinarian or an equine nutritionist to guide you.

The next step on the quest for body condition is selecting ingredients or feeds that will not only allow your horse to gain weight but also provides them with all the necessary nutrients. There are so many feeds on the market place today that it can be a very daunting task to find a feed that can enhance performance, maximize condition and shine whilst maintaining calm. Well now it has been simplified with the release of Hyfeed’s Weight Plus.

Weight Plus is the ultimate all natural blended conditioning feed for horses. It could not be any easier than just scooping Weight Plus out of the bag into the feed bin and giving it to your horse. This feed is a blended complete feed that contains all natural ingredients that are GMO and chemical free.

Weight Plus consists of lucerne, oaten and wheaten chaff, sun flower seeds, pollard pellets, premium vitamin and mineral pellets with added trace elements and the unique blend of Soygize and Alpha E oil. This specially formulated blend of Soygize and Alpha E oil improves overall coat condition and shine and most importantly provides your horse with the very best amino acid proteins essential for improving top line and enhancing muscle definition.

The high quality fibre content of Weight Plus increases the function of the equine digestive tract and helps to minimize any negative side effects associated with prime lucerne and rich green spring pastures such as hair loss, rain scald and laminitis. Weight Plus also helps prevent big head disease by providing a 3:1 calcium and phosphorus ratio.

Hyfeed prides itself in providing horse owners with a totally natural alternative that works. Ask for Weight Plus at your local produce store today.