The Importance of Forage

Bishop Burton College Equine Science lecturer Georgina Smith talks to us about the Importance of Forage for the Equine Diet.

Baillie Haylage have partnered up with the Equine Nutrition experts at Bishop Burton College to provide horse owners with quality feeding advice. In the first of the series, Georgina Smith BSc (Hons) MRes explains the importance of feeding quality forage.

Forage To Compensate for Poor Grass Quality

Over the winter months, many of us need to provide extra forage to our horses whether that be thrown into the field to compensate for the poor grass quality, or some nets strung up in the stable. Now that we are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, some people may be considering an increase in workload to get ready for a summer season. If that sounds like you, then before adding in some energy dense concentrate feeds, consider your choice of forage.

Forage For a Healthy Digestive System

We should always be aiming to feed our horses at least 1-1.5% of their bodyweight in forage to ensure a healthy digestive system and avoid conditions such as gastric ulcers. If your horse has a healthy appetite and is in up to moderate work then a good quality forage may be all they need! With the spring grass just around the corner, your pasture may be sufficient if well-managed, but if feeding a conserved forage, consider increasing the energy you’re providing with this in the first instance before supplementing with a concentrate feed.

Feeding the Right Type of Forage

Baillie Haylage offer a range of different haylages to suit differing energy requirements such as ‘Traditional Parkland Meadow’ for horses who are in a lower workload and ‘Ryegrass & Timothy’ for those in more intense training regimes.  If you’re happy that your horse is getting a good quality forage to support their needs; but you are still seeing lacklustre performance or lower body condition; you could slowly introduce any suitable concentrates and contact an equine nutritionist if unsure which would be best.

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Keeping horses feeling and looking well, whilst providing just the right energy for work is a balancing act. We are always happy to discuss any aspect of your horses’ diet and management, helping you to select which haylage type is best for your horse.

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