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Hygain Frequently Asked Questions

With so many horse feeds and supplements on the market, selecting the right feed to suit your horse, can be a challenge, if you are confused, you’re not alone.

We have compiled the most frequently asked questions (FAQ) and answers directed to Hygain’s Equine Nutritionist to assist you. Search through the categories and if the answer to your question is still pending, you can always ask our HYGAIN Equine Nutrition Experts directly in the Q&A section.

Poor Doers

What’s the best thing to feed my horse for weight gain?

First, feed more hay or better quality hay. Second, increase the fat content of the diet. Fat is the safest and quickest way to put extra weight on your horse. HYGAIN offers multiple high fat choices from concentrated fat supplements such as HYGAIN RBO – Equine Performance Oil (99% fat) and HYGAIN TRU GAIN (20% fat) to complete feeds such as HYGAIN RELEASE (10% fat) or HYGAIN SHOWTORQUE (9% fat – no cereal grains). Remember to make all diet changes gradually to avoid digestive upset.

I rescued a horse and it’s really, really thin - What should I feed him?

During the starvation process, the horse initially uses any fat and carbohydrate stores in his body to supply energy for metabolism. The horse will then go on to use protein not only from muscles but also from vital organs like the heart, literally breaking down his body to survive. If we feed these horses high calorie, carbohydrate rich feeds it can induce a heart attack – this response is known as re-feeding syndrome. The best thing to offer starved horses is small frequent meals of Lucerne. These horses are often dehydrated so wetting lurcerne is an excellent option for these horses.

I am currently feeding HYGAIN SHOWTORQUE with good results. Are any of the other feeds any more fattening?

I would continue to feed HYGAIN SHOWTORQUE as it will keep his mind stable as well as helping him gain weight but I would also add some HYGAIN RBO, depending on how much weight you want him to gain you could add as much as a cup per day of oil to his feed. This will add extra calories without making him hot. Keep in mind though a lot of extra calories in any form if he is not getting exercised will form excess unwanted energy. I would also make sure he had hay or pasture in front of him all the time.

Good Doers

My pony gets fat looking at feed – do I need to feed her anything?

Ponies or other horses that are easy keepers don’t need extra calories from grain, but it is important that they still get all the nutrients they need. HYGAIN BALANCED is a low intake, low calorie, vitamin and mineral supplement that will ensure your pony gets all the nutrition she needs without getting fat.

Topline

I am trying to build a better topline on my horse – is there anything I can feed that will help?

Building a topline means developing muscles which will only come with correct exercise along with good nutrition. To build the topline you need amino acids, the building blocks of protein. HYGAIN SHOWTORQUE provides high quality sources of amino acids along with a moderate fat content that aids in some extra weight gain. One of the benefits to HYGAIN SHOWTORQUE is the lack of cereal grains which makes this feed a “cool fuel” and will not make your horse “hot or fizzy”. Alternatively, HYGAIN RBO – Equine Performance Oil or HYGAIN TRU GAIN as high fat rice bran oil sources can be added to your horse’s current diet.

My horse has a hay belly, how do I get rid of it?

A hay belly indicates that poorer quality forage is being provided, such as stemmy, mature grass hay or tall mature pasture. The large intestine will retain poorer quality forages longer trying to break down the fibre and get as much nutrition as possible. That will stretch the large intestine causing the distended hay belly appearance. Increasing the quantity of quality forage (lucerne, leaf grass hay) will shrink the hindgut back to normal size.

Energy

My horse is lazy and I want him to go faster – what can I feed him?

Sometimes horses seem lazy when they are unfit and out of shape, just like people they get tired more quickly. If your horse is fit and still lazy you could try increasing the sugar and starch content of the diet by feeding grain.  Sugar and starch is broken down and stored in the muscle as glycogen and provide quick bursts of energy to the horse. A horse used for sporting events such as pole bending or barrels needs this type of energy. We need to be careful when increasing the carbohydrate content of the diet not to cause digestive upset by feeding too much at one time or by feeding unprocessed grains. The HYGAIN Performance range provides products with excellent sources of readily available carbohydrates and optimum levels of fat for added safe energy.

My horse needs more energy and a little weight gain but if I feed him grain he goes crazy – what can I feed him?

There has been some research that suggests diets rich in non-structural carbohydrates (sugar and starch) from cereal grains can make horses more excitable. In these horses the best way to increase the energy content of the diet is by increasing the fat and highly digestible fiber content of the feed. HYGAIN SHOWTORQUE is a non-grain performance feed with increased fat and high quality fiber sources. HYGAIN ICE is a low starch, high fiber feed with a lower fat content that also delivers cool, calm energy to the horse.

Senior Horse

My horse is older but still maintains his weight well and has good teeth – does he need a senior feed?

No your horse can be fed any of the HYGAIN feeds designed for performance horses.  If your older horses is starting to show signs of being stiff and sore HYGAIN EQUINE SENIOR is a palatable non oat micronized sweet feed, formulated for mature horses.  HYGAIN EQUINE SENIOR provides the necessary digestible energy along with soluble fiber, quality protein and balanced levels of vitamins and minerals for optimal health and vitality. Added benefits include Glycoaminoglycans and Yucca Schidigera to support joint health.

My horse is older and is losing weight and has bad teeth and can’t chew sweet feed – what should I feed him?

HYGAIN TRU CARE is a high fat, high fiber extruded feed that is easily digested. It can be wet to form a mash or slurry for horses with very poor teeth. It has all the same joint benefits as HYGAIN EQUINE SENIOR but is easier to eat by horses with bad teeth. HYGAIN MICRBEET is also a great addition to increase the fiber and calorie content and quality in diets of horses that can no longer chew hay properly.

Metabolic Disorders

My horse had laminitis last spring and I don’t want her to get it again – what should I feed her?

Horses that have had laminitis in the past as a result of increased sugar content in the diet (spring grass) need to be managed carefully.  If the horse or pony is overweight or has a cresty neck you should take steps to decrease their body fat (increase exercise when possible). You should also avoid pasture turnout and feed a low non-structural carbohydrate feed such as HYGAIN ZERO or HYGAIN BALANCED instead of a cereal grain based feeds.

My horse is prone to laminitis when I feed her grain, but she is getting older and it is hard to keep weigh on her – how do I increase her weight without feeding her too much grain?

This can be a tricky scenario but fortunately we have an answer. HYGAIN ZERO is a very low sugar and starch feed and will provide your horse with all the nutrients it needs without containing any carbohydrates from cereal grains. It doesn’t however contain high amounts of fat because typically horses and ponies sensitive to sugars and starches are overweight. This can easily be overcome by adding a little HYGAIN RBO– Equine Performance Oil which will add the extra calories required for weight gain without adding sugars and starches which may induce a laminitic episode.

My endurance horse tied-up after a ride and I was told I should change my feed?

Tying up is often due to increased glycogen storage and abnormal polysaccharides in skeletal muscle and responds well to a decrease in dietary sugar and starch and an increase in dietary fat intake. HYGAIN RELEASE was designed specifically for horses that suffer from this disorder. It is a non-oat micronized feed with a high fat content and increased vitamin E and selenium concentrations that aid in muscle repair and performance.

Breeding

I have a fat mare I am trying to get pregnant but I am having trouble – should I take her off all feed?

Overweight mares can have difficulty cycling properly (BCS 8 or 9, hyperlink to BCS chart) so it is important that you try and reduce her bodyweight prior to the breeding season by modifying her diet and providing exercise. It is important that broodmares be fed a balanced diet to enhance fertility. HYGAIN BALANCED is an ideal feed choice for these mares as it provides all the essential nutrients, without additional calories.

I have a breeding farm and want to keep my feeding program simple – what is the best feed for all my young stock and broodmares?

HYGAIN TRU BREED and HYGAIN PRODIGY are an ideal choice for a wide variety of animals from broodmares to all ages of young stock. Other HYGAIN stud feed options include HYGAIN STUDTORQUE, a readily digestible sweet feed and HYGAIN GROTORQUE a scientifically designed concentrate.

My foal has huge joints and I am worried about developmental orthopedic disease – I was told to only feed him grass hay so he doesn’t grow to fast?

The problem with only feeding grass hay is there are critical nutrient deficiencies in grass hay and pasture. Vital minerals such and zinc, copper, calcium and phosphorus are typically deficient and often in unbalanced ratios. Also high quality protein sources are required to facilitate healthy growth in the young foal, which would be lacking in an all grass diet. HYGAIN BALANCED is a great option to provide key nutrients required for strong, sound bone development while not providing excess calories that will speed up the growth rate.

My mare is in late gestation and she is pretty thin, I am worried she will lose more weight during lactation – what can I feed her?

When a mare is lactating she has the highest nutritional requirements she will ever have in her life. HYGAIN TRU BREED is an extruded feed with and increased protein and fat content. It is specifically designed to provide high calories to maximize milk quality, quantity and maintain body weight.

My pony gets fat looking at feed – do I need to feed her anything?

Ponies or other horses that are easy keepers don’t need extra calories from grain, but it is important that they still get all the nutrients they need. HYGAIN BALANCED is a low intake, low calorie, vitamin and mineral supplement that will ensure your pony gets all the nutrition she needs without getting fat.

Performance

Is there a specific time that I should feed my horse before a competition?

Feeding small amounts of hay prior to exercise and allowing constant access to water is always recommended.  However, feeding grain concentrates to performance horses is not recommended within 3 to 5 hours prior to competition.  Avoiding last minute meals of grain will allow horses to properly mobilize and utilize carbohydrate and fat during exercise.  Feeding post exercise is critical to the recovery of the horse.  Following exercise, horses should be immediately provided with hay and water.  Once the horses have consumed hay and drank water, a meal of a balanced grain concentrate should be provided within 1.5 hrs after exercise.

My horse drinks plenty of water after he works hard, does he need an electrolyte supplement as well?

When horses sweat it results in both loss of water and electrolytes. Electrolytes are charged particles, including sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium and magnesium.  Loss of electrolytes causes fatigue, muscle weakness and decreases the thirst response from dehydration.  Therefore, it is vital to replace both water and electrolyte losses in exercising horses. HYGAIN REGAIN is a rapid electrolyte replacer. Horses should be supplemented with electrolytes the night before and the morning of heavy exercise to ensure adequate utilization.

Equestrian

I want to show my horse and his condition is good but his coat is a little dull – is there anything I can feed to make his coat glossier.

HYGAIN GLEAM is ideal for enhancing coat quality and condition. It is a blend of biotin, bio-available zinc, quality amino acids, full fat soya bean meal and essential fatty acids formulated in a palatable banana flavored base.

My horse is a little stiff in the joints and I don’t want to feed a drug like “Bute” all the time – is there something else that will help my horses joints?

Yes – HYGAIN FLEXION is a blend of quality neutraceuticals and glycosaminoglycan (GAG) components designed to for the nourishment of joints, cartilage and connective tissues.

My horse has ulcers – if there anything I can feed to help him?

The horse is designed to graze constantly and as a consequence their stomach constantly secretes acid. When the horse has limited access to pasture and is fed 1 or 2 grain meals a day the stomach acid can get very concentrated and lead to stomach ulcers. A simple addition to the diet is some Lucerne in the form of hay, chaff or pellets. Lucerne is high in calcium which helps buffer the stomach acid and reduce its severity. Feeding a small amount of Lucerne prior to exercise can limit acid while the horse is working.

My horse eats more feed during the competition season, but when he is on a break he gets fat – should I just feed him less feed during that time?

Yes, you should feed less, but not less of the same feed.  If you feed your 450 kg horse 2 kg of HYGAIN SHOWTORQUE during the competition season you meet all of its nutrient requirements.  If you back off to 1 kg during the rest of the year you are feeding less than the minimum amount of HYGAIN SHOWTORQUE for that body weight.  You would be short changing him on vital nutrients by not feeding the recommended minimum amount of HYGAIN SHOWTORQUE for that bodyweight. In this case you would be better off feeding HYGAIN BALANCED during the off season, because you can feed less of it and still get all the nutrients required.