Maximize Forage Time Without Overfeeding

Read about research into increasing the time horses spend eating (a good thing) without feeding them too much (a bad thing), along with more take-homes from the 2019 Equine Science Society Symposium.

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Horses eating high-fiber meals comprising shredded beet pulp or almond hulls chewed more and ate slower than those eating crimped oats, researchers found. | Photo: The Horse Staff

While much of the biennial Equine Science Society symposium’s sessions are nutrition-focused, the event also features presentations on horse management, reproduction, exercise science, and more. Here are some of our top take-homes from the production and horse management sessions, held June 4, in Asheville, North Carolina.

Owners can increase the time horses spend eating (which can help prevent issues such as gastric ulcers, hindgut acidosis, and cribbing) by offering them high-soluble-fiber feeds. Katy Brinkley-Bissinger, of the University of Florida, found that horses eating high-fiber meals comprising shredded beet pulp or almond hulls chewed more and ate slower than horses eating crimped oats. They also consumed their daily hay rations slower, perhaps due to a feeling of satiety.

Round alfalfa bales wrapped in B-Wrap (designed to protect hay for storage) experience less physical and nutritive losses during storage than bales wrapped in twine or net. Amanda Scot Reiter, of the University of Minnesota, compared bale wrap type’s effect on alfalfa baling time, dry matter losses, nutrient values, moisture levels, cost, and value over a 12-month period. B-Wrap was the superior type in nearly every category except cost; it’s significantly more expensive than twine or net

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Alexandra Beckstett, a native of Houston, Texas, is a lifelong horse owner who has shown successfully on the national hunter/jumper circuit and dabbled in hunter breeding. After graduating from Duke University, she joined Blood-Horse Publications as assistant editor of its book division, Eclipse Press, before joining The Horse. She was the managing editor of The Horse for nearly 14 years and is now editorial director of EquiManagement and My New Horse, sister publications of The Horse.

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