feeding and care of horses
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BeetNote The effects of soaked feed

Why should you soak feed?

We are gaining more and more knowledge about healthy horse feed. Many horse owners are well aware of the benefits of an as large as possible intake of fibres. Feed producers are adding more and more fibres to concentrate feed. And there is a broad range of possibilities to maintain the behaviour and the well-being of the horse by means of feed (read: chewing and providing often small portions).

How much water does a horse drink?

A horse that doesn’t exercise can drink up to 7 litres of water per 100 kg bodyweight per day.
A horse weighing 400 kg drinks more than 3 buckets per day. During exercise, up to 15 litres of water per hour can be lost in the form of sweat! Research has shown that intake of feed reduces as the intake of water is restricted.

Water is of key importance; not only for all physiological and biochemical aspects of the body, but also to guarantee the right conditions in the gut.

What is the content of the digestive tract?

The content of the gut (chyme) of a horse consists primarily of water in which food parts and enzymes - which are responsible for the digestion - float around. Contractions of the muscles move the content of the gut forward, while mixing it as well, through the entire length of the intestinal tract. During this journey, enzymes break down the nutrients so that the body can absorb these through the gut lining.

Bacteria mix with and attach themselves to the fibres in order to extract energy from them. Only when the chyme arrives at the end of the large colon, most of the water has been absorbed by the body and is used for the biochemical processes of the body.

A meal of water and feed at the same time, is the ideal meal

In every publication about feeding horses, the feeding behaviour is related to the horse’s evolutionary past. Horses are animals which continuously eat small bits of food, wander a lot, eat various types of roughage, and are active now and again when they are being hunted or when they mate. This article doesn’t differ from other publications.

Various roughage contains various levels of moisture, but even mature grass contains up to 70% moisture. A grazing horse can therefore take in the largest part of his water needs from the grass. For concentrates it applies that the moisture content is much lower than that of roughage and even more so in comparison with fresh forage, grass. By providing a damp feed, you help your horse’s body to process the concentrates in a better way.

The chewing of a damp product has less effect on the teeth, local ‘dehydration’ of the mouth is prevented, and the feed is prepared for the subsequent journey through the intestinal tract. A moist product mixes more easily with extra water than a product which is chewed in dry form.