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  • Q:

    I own a six-year-old, 950-lb (435-kg) mixed-breed gelding that’s in light work. He has access to pasture for six hours each day and is stabled the remainder of the day. He eats 3-4 flakes of grass hay every day when stalled as well as a balancer pellet and a handful of feed. Right now, he’s fed a hoof supplement and natural vitamin E supplement. He needs to lose weight, but I am concerned about the amount of hay he receives and the likelihood of stomach ulcers. I am considering adding electrolytes. Your thoughts?

  • A:

    Forage recommendations are based on a percentage of body weight. A general recommendation is to provide at least 1.5% of body weight as forage (pasture, hay, or forage alternatives) per day to support digestive health and minimize vices due to low forage intakes. For a 950-lb (435-kg) horse, this would be approximately 14.25 lb (6.5 kg) per day. For weight loss, it is acceptable to use the target body weight when calculating feed intakes, and a reduction in forage intake to 1.25% of body weight may be needed for some horses to achieve their weight goals.

    Forage intake of 1% body weight daily is considered the bare minimum, but is not ideal for horses maintained on a forage-based diet plus balancer pellet. Low forage intakes are often seen in high-performance horses such as racehorses due to the high energy demands and reliance on concentrate feeds to meet these needs.

    A balancer pellet is the best feed choice for your gelding, as these products are low-calorie, low-intake feeds that supply all of the essential nutrients to balance a forage-based diet. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for intake, as it is only then that the horse will receive proper fortification.

    KER recommends that horses with restricted access to forage (pasture and hay) receive a daily digestive buffer like RiteTrac. Providing a twice-daily serving of antacids and coating agents, as found in RiteTrac, can help increase gastric pH and protect the stomach from prolonged contact with gastric fluid. RiteTrac is a one-of-a-kind digestive product, containing EquiShure, a time-released hindgut buffer that works to stabilize the pH and support the hindgut microbial population. RiteTrac provides superior total digestive tract support for all horses.

    Free-choice access to salt should be available year-round. Supplementing with 1-2 ounces of electrolytes can be beneficial during the winter to encourage optimal water intake. Restore SR is an appropriate daily electrolyte for everyday use.

    Australian horse owners should look for these research-proven products.

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