With the sun shining and our fields filled with lush grass, it’s easy to think that perhaps all your horse needs is hay at night when he comes in and a handful of chaff to replace his meals during the summer months but is this correct? In this blog, our Founder and MD Han van de Braak discusses summer nutrition and what does your horse really need?
A Closer Look At Grass Quality
Some horses literally live in thin air when it comes to the summer months and weight gain. Natives and cobs, in particular, may struggle with their weight with the longer turn-out hours and lush paddocks, and the most obvious thing to do is gradually reduce their hard feed to nothing. However, is a grass diet enough? Regardless of how much grass you have in the field, unless you carry out a scientific analysis of the grass, you wouldn’t be able to determine whether the grazing has a balanced range of vitamins and minerals. This could leave your horse lacking in essential minerals and vitamins.
Changes In Grass
In general, springtime sees forage protein and good digestible energy at its highest when the grass growth is at its highest. Spring grass has more significant levels of sugar and starch. Coupled with weight gain, laminitis is much more common during the summer months compared to winter.
Mid-summer time (Presuming we have a dry, hot summer) and winter grass tend to be much lower in protein and have lower levels of starch and sugar.
Regardless of how many calories your horse consumes over the summer, you shouldn’t assume that your horse is getting everything they need from the grass. It is also important to note that most horses don’t have access to miles and miles of pasture on which to roam and graze, so they are limited to a diet that is unlikely to be genuinely diverse or well-balanced. Minerals play a part in all aspects of your horses’ health, from digestion, coat and skin, condition, hoof and metabolism.
Supplementing For Summer
Taking samples of your grass, hay or haylage and having it analysed will give you a greater insight into what minerals your horse is likely to lack and supplement appropriately. However, for some horse owners on livery yards, this may not be possible due to the field rotation or higher turn over of hay and haylage supplies. Getting advice from an equine nutritionist and feeding a general equine summer balancer is a secondary option.
Aloeride also plays a supporting role in that it not only allows for more excellent absorption of nutrients by increasing the bioavailability of vitamins but also soothes the digestive tract lining and increases good bacteria. Alongside digestive support, Aloeride also supports healthy skin, coat and hooves, and because it is an entirely taste-free powder, it can be easily fed in a handful of chaff with a dash of water during a daily field check. Click the infographic → to get an instant view of what Aloeride gives to your horse.