Horse Eating Too Fast? High-Fiber Feeds Might Slow Him Down

A researcher investigated how long horses spent eating when offered varying amounts of soluble fiber. Her findings could help your horse avoid health and behavior issues, such as gastric ulcers and cribbing.
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beet pulp
Brinkley-Bissinger concluded that horses eating high-fiber meals composed of shredded beet pulp or almond hulls chewed more and ate slower than horses eating crimped oats. | Photo: The Horse Staff

Current equine management practices have led many of us to feed our horses two large concentrate meals a day, in addition to hay and pasture, to meet their nutrient needs. This practice, however, can lead to issues such as hindgut acidosis, gastric ulcers, and undesirable behaviors such as cribbing when horses finish their feed quickly and must wait hours until their next meal.

So how can we increase the time per day that horses spend eating? Katy Brinkley-Bissinger, a graduate student at the University of Florida, in Gainesville, and her colleagues studied the effects of soluble fiber (fiber that dissolves in water) on feed intake behavior to find out. She presented their findings at the 2019 Equine Science Society Symposium, held June 3-6 in Asheville, North Carolina.

Brinkley-Bissinger hypothesized that feeding horses high-soluble fiber would cause them to chew more and feel “full” sooner

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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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