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Alfalfa, Medicago sativa, also called Lucerne, is a deep rooting perennial flowering plant in the pea (Legume) family and is cultivated as an important forage crop throughout the world. Very low in sugars, it is an ideal source of digestible fibre, calcium, protein and high levels of carotene. Carotene is in itself the antecedent of Vitamin A, and therefore an essential anti-oxidant.

A perfect feed for most horses, it is ideal for building muscle and condition. When horses are back in work after illness or rest, it provides all the right nutrients for developing muscle, but due to its low sugar levels, does not cause any ‘hotting-up’. Alfalfa is also a great supplement for growing youngsters and pregnant or lactating mares, who all need additional protein to fuel their extra energy needs.

As many horse owners will know, horses seem to be drawn to the plant, and like many human luxury foodstuffs, it’s tasty and nutritious in reasonable amounts. If eaten in large quantities, it has the potential to cause problems. This is because alfalfa hay can have, depending on the age when harvested, between 15-30% protein, whereas a horse, even one in hard work, only requires 8-10% in his diet. However, don’t panic- if you follow the feeding guidelines as suggested by the companies who manufacture alfalfa based horse feeds, you should be fine. Don’t forget that if you have any concerns, many feed companies have feed lines available where you can call a member of the team and explain your situation.


Posted: 21/03/2014 10:52:43

A feed balancer is a low-intake, concentrated source of quality vitamins, minerals, protein, yeast products, trace elements and various other micronutrients, that enables you to balance the forage and inadequately supplemented feed in your horse’s diet. Like any feed, a balancer should be introduced to the diet gradually, preferably over 4-5 days, and divided between the number of feeds given each day. Pelleted balancers, which can be more palatable than powdered ones, can be fed entirely on their own.

When researching a feed balancer, check that the main ingredients include sources of vegetable protein. Fibre sources have a role to play at lower levels too. Antioxidants such as vitamins A, D, E as well as selenium and copper levels must be exhibited, and oil, fibre, protein, ash and moisture levels are also mandatory declarations.

Feeding the minimum requirement will ensure no other vitamin or mineral supplement should be necessary as your horse should be able to acquire all his daily needs from the balancer. This will depend, however, on the quality of the forage that is available.

Feed balancers are extremely versatile as owners have the option to either feed it on its own to horses maintained on all-forage diets, or add it when extra nutritional fortification is necessary, therefore ensuring that they control the amount of energy supplied to their horse(s). They are used in order to improve the efficacy with which your horse can employ his feed, enabling him to eat more fibre and less hard food, which in turn can improve digestion. It can also allow him to obtain optimum supplementation, which can aid development, condition and performance.


Posted: 14/03/2014 11:42:24

Sugar beet is actually a vegetable that looks rather like a turnip and weighs around 1-2kg. It’s grown specifically for its high sugar content that is extracted from the flesh. The remaining fibrous root pulp is used in animal feed, and is normally mixed with molasses. However, unmolassed versions are available too, for those who aren’t keen on adding molasses to their horse’s feed. Regarded by nutritionists as a ‘superfibre’, feeding it can offer many benefits:

It’s a readily available source of calcium.
•      When unmolassed, it is low in sugars and starch.
•      It’s excellent for hydration as ‘sloppy’ sugar beet can help sustain overall water intake, and sugar beet water is known to encourage competitive horses to drink.
•      It’s recognised as a high-energy feed, due to its digestible energy content. However, soaked sugar beet will have a diluted fibre and nutritional content, so to enable you to get the full benefit as a concentrate feed, ensure you weigh/scoop it out prior to soaking. Unsoaked beet should never be fed as it can take up moisture from saliva and swell in the throat. If swallowed, dried sugar beet can expand in the stomach and lead to colic.

Unmolassed sugar beet can be fed to horses/ponies who are prone to laminitis, intolerant to sugar or who already have sugar in their diet. Molassed sugar beet can help heighten energy levels, which will be beneficial to horses in hard work or those who need to maintain/increase their weight.

If you’re thinking of adding sugar beet to your horse’s feed but you need help with quantities and suitability, most feed companies offer free advice through the phone or by email…or give us a ring and we’ll talk to you about the options available through efeed.

Posted: 06/03/2014 09:24:59