Frequent hay feeding is the best
People often think that free hay is the most optimal solution for the horse, but nature and - after research - also science have proven that frequent hay feeding is the best option for the horse’s digestion.
Take a look at vet Jonna Jokisalo’s lecture, in which Jonna speaks about horses’ stomach ulcers and the benefits of frequent hay feeding at the Horses Fair 2019.
The optimal feeding interval is 3 to 4 hours
In nature, the horse is used to roaming around looking for food, and its stomach is designed to handle small amounts of food frequently. No wonder that the feeding intervals set by humans are causing health problems for horses. The Heinätin® hay feeder enables a natural feeding rhythm for the horse and prevents illnesses that weaken performance.
Anne Sjöholm, a vet specialized in horse illnesses purchased Heinätin® hay feeders for her own horses, because in her work she has seen so many horses suffering from stomach ulcers and stables where the evening hay may be distributed at five in the afternoon, with the next feeding coming at seven in the morning.
”Since the optimal interval in horse feeding is 3 to 4 hours, an interval of up to fourteen hours is wreaking havoc on the horse’s digestion. Without constant protection provided by saliva and food, gastric acids can burn the stomach linings, ultimately leading to ulcers and bleeding”, Anne says.
Sufficiently short intervals – also by night
Nine out of ten show horses have some type of stomach ulcer, the symptoms of which are not always visible. Regular straw feeding ensures the well-being of the horse’s stomach and increases the performance of e.g. riding horses and trotters.
The performance of show and racing horses can be hindered by even the slightest pains, heartburn, or discomfort. For instance, a riding horse suffering from stomach problems cannot carry itself properly. A trotter’s performance is weakened and speed decreases if stomach pains are affecting the horse’s breathing and muscles.
“With the Heinätin hay feeders, the horses’ feeding times can be set at sufficiently short intervals even at night”, Anne says. “Frequent feeding intervals are the most effective way to prevent and treat horses’ stomach problems and support their overall well-being”, Anne continues.
Slimming down by eating
Frequent straw feeding also helps in the fight against another common health problem in horses. Obesity is a disease of affluence among horses and people alike. Oversized feeding portions and minimized movement allows the horses to gain excess weight.
Free hay or overly large hay portions are not suitable for a good fodder-user. Instead, a horse which easily gains excess weight should be given small portions of hay several times a day. “Frequent, overly large portions cause weight-gain and collect fat”, says Anne Sjöholm, a vet specialized in equine illnesses.
A horse’s metabolic syndrome is a state where the sugars contained in food cause a continuous rise of insulin levels and ultimately lead to insulin resistance. “It often leads to severe health problems such as laminitis”, Anne Sjöholm warns.
A health-promoting feeding rhythm
The Heinätin® hay feeder is an easy way to organize a natural and health-promoting feeding rhythm for the horse: with it, you don’t have to give large amounts of hay in the evening, but instead, you can distribute the hay into small portions to be munched away during the night. This way, you can decrease the total amount of hay without making the horse susceptible to stomach ulcers.