Aiding Hydration with Soaked Feeds
Horses can become dehydrated at any time during the year which can lead to serious health issues and affect their performance. Soaked feeds such as hay replacers are a useful tool to increase the horse’s water intake and can be particularly helpful for horses that are reluctant to drink.
Historically warm bran mashes were fed after a day of hard work to hydrate and warm the horse. With further scientific knowledge this practice has become outdated. We now understand that using a different feed once a week or fortnight can cause digestive upset and the role that fibre fermentation plays in generating body heat. Mashes, such as the new Pure Feed Graze, have been formulated to aid hydration without putting additional strain on the microbes in the gut.
Keeping hydrated in cold weather
During the winter months when the growth rate of grass slows, many horses move onto hay or haylage as their main source of fibre. Hay and haylage have a much lower water content compared to fresh grass and this, combined with the fact that horses can drink around 10% less water in cold weather, can lead to an overall decrease in the water intake of the horse. Dehydration is often overlooked in winter months but it can cause serious health issues such as impaction colic and affect performance. To counteract this drinking water can be warmed to 15-20°C, hay can be soaked and mashes can be used. Soaked hay replacers or fibre mashes provide both a high water and fibre content which help to rehydrate the horse and generate heat to keep the horse warm through fermentation of the fibre in the hindgut.
Pure Feed Graze is a high fibre, low sugar and starch hay replacer that soaks to form a soft mash. The micro-pellets hold up to two times their volume in water so support hydration and provide a great alternative when grazing hours are limited. Pure Feed Graze can be soaked with warm water but avoid using boiling water as the probiotics in the feed will be denatured.
Hydrating the competition horse
Fibre mashes can be used year-round to increase the horse’s water intake. Some competition horses are reluctant to drink water whilst traveling or during stay away shows due to stress or a change in their water source. A small amount of a mash feed can be added to a bucket of water to tempt the horse to drink. It is always important to provide plain, fresh water in a separate bucket to offer the horse a choice.
Pure Feed Graze has 7 natural herbs to tempt fussy eaters and this also works well to encourage horses to drink if the pellets are soaked down to a very sloppy mash. It is a myth that horses cannot be given water in the first hour after exercise. A sloppy mash of Pure Feed Graze can be fed immediately after exercise and this is when the horse will have the greatest thirst for water. Pure Feed Graze is especially useful for competition horses that have a history of tying up to encourage them to drink whilst keeping the sugar and starch level of their diet low.
Great Value Complete Feed
Easy to feed. Everything they need all in one bag, including the balancer.