If your horse tends to bolt his feed there are a number of bulk feeds you can add to his daily ration to slow down his eating.
Chaff was the original bulk addition to the horse's corn ration to help him take his time and chew his food, which aids mastication and digestion. Years ago a chaff machine was used to make chaff. An equal mix of oat straw and meadow hay was fed through a chaff machine which cut it into small strands. The machine was originally operated by hand! A large double handful of chaff would be added to the feed and mixed in. Today the hard work has been removed and feed manufacturers provide readymade options; some with added molasses, apple etc.
Sugar Beet: This is a root vegetable which looks a bit like a turnip. The sugar (molasses) is extracted, the remainder is either shredded or made into pellets. This is an extremely valuable feed source, is high in digestible energy and fibre. Due to the gradual release of glucose it does not make the horse 'hot' and is a good food source for putting on condition.
SUGAR BEET SWELLS WHEN WATER IS ADDED AND SHOULD NEVER BE FED DRY AS IT CAN CAUSE CHOKING, COLIC AND EVEN DEATH!
Above: This is unsoaked sugar beet.
Above: Some of the sugar beet pulp which has now been soaked for 10 minutes.
Sugar beet is rich in calcium, salt and potassium and will help offset any cereal imbalance. There are three types of sugar beet available.
Cubes require soaking for 24 hours, absorbing seven times the amount of cold water.
Pulp requires 12 hours' soaking and absorbs four times the amount of cold water.
The third option is processed in such a way that it only requires soaking for ten minutes. Recommended feeding is up to 2kg (5lbs) dry weight before soaking. Sugar beet is added to the feed in the same way as chaff. Sugar beet must be fed within 24 hours of soaking - this time is reduced in warmer weather.
Bran: This is a by-product of wheat and was the traditional addition to oats; in the last couple of decades the feeding of bran has become a little controversial. It is high in fibre and can absorb more than its weight in water making it a good laxative. Fed dry it has a binding effect. It was fed as a bran mash the evening before a working horse's rest day. It is low in calcium, high in phosphorous and phytate. If fed it is essential the calcium and phosphorous is balanced as part of the grain ration.
Caution! Fed in large quantities bran can cause bony abnormalities in young stock and may upset electrolyte levels. Protein is of low quality and is not easily digested.
Bran with Epsom salt added is also used for poulticing. For more feeding advice and tips click here