We're continuing our series on horse nutrition with Vetpro' s Tina Thorowgood. Today, we're talking about feeding for performance.
To meet the demands of training and racing, performance horses need access to a concentrated energy source. Grains such as oats, barley and maize are ideally suited because of their high starch content. Because these grains are not part of their natural diet, horses are limited in the amount of starch they are able to digest at one time. If too much grain is fed at once, or if the passage of ingested grain through the small intestine is too rapid, undigested starch will pass into the large intestine where it will undergo bacterial fermentation. Hindgut fermentation of starch, especially with a reduced fibre intake, can lead to a condition known as hindgut acidosis.
Ingestion of pasture grasses rich in fructans ( sugars) results in the production of acids in a similar way to cereal grains, so horses on a mix of rich pasture and grain feed can be very susceptible to this condition.
The acids produced by the fermentation process can affect performance, causing problems like stressful behaviour, over-excitability, muscle tye-up and importantly for trainers and owners - produce poor results.
Tina says that, essentially, the excessive acid level causes a horse to lose the efficiency of its own microbial flora to digest the feed, thus reducing the effectiveness of the feed in the production of energy. Hindgut Acidosis can manifest itself in simple indicators such as wood chewing, paddock or box walking, soft stools, loss of appetite and irritated attitude. If left uncorrected the condition can not only reduce performance in the short term, but can lead to the more career ending condition of Laminitis.
Scientific tests have shown that the feeding of α-amylase and β glucanase enhanced starch digestion and reduced the risk of hindgut acidosis and laminitis in horses. It makes sense then, that feeding a multi formulated product that can not only slow the passage of feed through the gut and also that contains the two α and β enzymes, plus a pre-biotic (Biomos®) that will help maintain a functional gut wall, can only result in reduction of the problem of hindgut acidosis and therefore improved performance! The addition of a silicated oxide toxin binder reduces risk of contaminated grains and hay and help soothes gut discomfort.
Digest-Rite Performance has been formulated for horses in a high work load on grain feds contains pre-biotics (mannan oligosaccharides), digestive enzymes (α amylase and β glucanase), rice bran and silicated oxide toxin binder Mycobond®
Its four-way action:
1. Slows the passage of food through the small intestine, allowing more time for the horse’s own digestive enzymes to work, and provides high anti-oxidants to offset the potential damage, created by energy transfer, to muscles in hard work ( i.e. free radicals)
2. Enhances digestion through the inclusion of enzymes (α- amylase and β glucanase) that break down sugar and starch.
3. Provides a pre-biotic which helps ensures that nutrients are absorbed efficiently, and also helps to prevent the absorption of the harmful by-products of hindgut fermentation.
4. Finally it contains a toxin binder in the form of silicated oxides which bind harmful toxins, preventing them from being absorbed and so are passed out in the horse’s faeces.
Digest-Rite contains no prohibited substances so can be safely fed before racing. For more information go to vetpro.co.nz