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Muesli for horses: the pros and cons
Muesli for horses, are there truly any benefits? What distinguishes muesli from pellets? Is it possible to find sugar-free muesli? Many people only dare to give a handful of muesli because of fear for overweight. This is, however, misconception as such a quantity does not provide a complete supplement. Moreover, some owners are afraid that muesli is not a complete horse feed, such as pellets, and for that reason, cannot be fed on its own. Wrong again!
What is horse muesli?
Muesli for horses consists of a mixture of raw materials that are not pressed into pellets, but mixed in a huge mixer. You may have noticed that you can still see the individual raw materials. Which raw materials you see depends on the type of muesli, but chopped alfalfa is often a basic raw material that gives structure to the muesli. Sometimes dried timothy grass is added. Other raw materials include cereals, which are sometimes processed (puffed for example) for a better digestibility. Furthermore, you will often recognize spelt, apple pulp, soya beans or flakes and/or linseed. A manufacturer may also add carrot slices or pea flakes, which are added in particular to add some colour and variety. Finally, most muesli types for horses will include small pellets containing vitamins and minerals, in order to ensure that the muesli is a complete and balanced feed. Nowadays there are even completely grain-free mueslis available. Pavo Care4Life is such a grain-free muesli. When you choose a muesli, pay attention in particular to the true composition and contents. Some products actually contain healthy herbs for your horse; other products only smell like herbs. The smell of herbs is especially nice for you as an owner, but has no use to your horse.
Horse muesli without sugar
Basically, your horse does not need any extra energy in addition to its roughage, but you want to give something anyway. In that case, you could look for a muesli with a low sugar content. Due to the many online discussions, some horse owners have become afraid for sugar, but some leeway might be good. Too much sugar is bad for everybody, both for people as well as for horses. However, sugar also provides a source of energy which enables the body to quickly make energy available. To feed your horse 100% sugar-free feed is not possible and not healthy either. The sugar content of grass and hay (dried grass) for example can vary between 6% and 25% depending on the time of year, the fertilizers used and the temperature. Even within 24 hours, the sugar content in grass can fluctuate immensely.
Pavo offers a number of complete horse mueslis with a low sugar content, such as the grain-free herb blend Pavo Care4Life (9% sugar and starch) and the grain-free Pavo Nature’s Best (18.4% sugar and starch). Pavo DailyPlus (12% sugar and starch) is a roughage mixture rich in fibres with a low sugar and starch content that is approximately equal to the average hay. This mixture contains no added vitamins or minerals and is therefore truly a roughage addition.
How much muesli should I give my horse?
Horse owners regularly have the wrong belief that they should give their horses literally only a handful of muesli, because the horse should not become too fat. With this tiny bit of muesli, they think they are giving the horse all its daily needs. However, with a small handful of muesli, you do not add a complete and balanced supplement of vitamins and minerals to your horse’s diet. Are you looking for feed with even lower sugar and starch contents? Then it might be better not to give a muesli, but only a balancer. A balancer is meant to balance the roughage ration by complementing the daily need of vitamins and minerals. Pavo Vital is an example of a vitamin and mineral balancer. It only contains 4.7% sugar and starch and you only need to feed 100 grams per day. Very suitable for horses that put on weight easily and get no or just a small quantity of concentrates!
Does horse muesli have the same composition as muesli for people?
In online discussion platforms for horse owners, you sometimes see the question ‘Can I make muesli bars for my horse from muesli that is meant for people?’ The answer is NO, that is not wisely. Muesli for people contains materials that are not good for the sensitive digestion of horses. Of course, there is a difference between organic natural muesli and a variety with all kind of ingredients. But muesli for people usually contains a lot of sugar, for example: fruit muesli from the euro-shopper brand contains 61 grams of sugar per 100 grams muesli. In addition, it contains cereals that are not easily digested by horses and preservatives that we do not use in horse feed. One single bar will not hurt your horse, but muesli for people is definitely not meant for horses. You can give the linseed that you can buy in the supermarket to your horse.
The difference between muesli and pellets
Horse mueslis and pellets from reputable brands are a match for one and another with regard to quality. Both are complete horse feeds, which means that they contain sufficient vitamins and minerals to meet your horse’s feed requirements. There are a number of differences though and both types of feed have advantages and disadvantages. You may choose!