The Benefits of Slow Feeding Horses in Spring
Cameron Jensen - Monday, September 04, 2017
In many parts of Queensland, it feels like Spring has already arrived. A forage-first diet is essential for your horse’s health, wellbeing and performance. In this article, we discuss the benefits of slow feeding.
At the start of Spring, many horse owners take caution when returning their horses to pasture. For horses at risk of pasture-induced health problems, slow feeding is immensely important. However, slow feeding provides many positives to all horses, including those in work.
1. Healthy digestion
Above all, slow feeding promotes healthy digestion. In nature, horses graze up to 18 hours per day, promoting digestion and movement. Slow feeding allows horse owners to replicate this natural environment. This Spring, place slow feeding hay nets in multiple locations around the paddock.
2. Reduced stress
Your horse’s natural grazing behaviours are also important for their mental wellbeing. Limiting any horse’s feed intake to one small meal a day promotes the release of cortisol — the stress hormone. Instead, slow feeding hay nets ensure forage is available at all times.
3. Weight management
Under no circumstances should food be withheld from horses. Even overweight horses must receive 1.5-2.5% of their bodyweight in low-NSC hay per day. Slow feeding has been shown to lower cortisol, stimulate metabolism and regulate insulin — for a healthier bodyweight.
4. Lowered risk of ulcers
Within just six hours of food deprivation, ulcers begin to form inside a horse’s stomach. Saliva buffers the stomach acid your horse produces 24 hours
a day. By using slow feeding hay nets, your horse continuously chews, in turn, helping to prevent the formation of stomach ulcers.
5. Dental health
When you picture a horse grazing, what do you see? Slow feeding at ground level allows your horse to wear their teeth evenly and maintain their natural grazing position — a lowered head and neck, allowing maximum jaw movement.
6. Positive experience
As prey animals, horses prefer to eat outside in unrestricted environments. Otherwise, their peripheral vision is impaired. Slow feeding hay nets should be placed in open areas, so your horse will feel safe, confident and secure when eating.
7. Herd harmony
Horses benefit physically and psychologically when kept in herds. However, meal times can often encourage dominant behaviours. When spaced apart, slow feeding hay nets allow all members of your herd to eat together.
At Running Cool, we genuinely care about your horse’s health and wellbeing. Our superior horse feed range supports your horse at every stage of life with well-balanced vitamins, minerals and protein for pleasure and performance. Click here to learn more.