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BETA Horse Feeding Guide

Words by Redpost Admin

on 29/03/2021 15:59:00

Beta Feed Awareness Week

BETA Feed Awareness Week

This is an annual awareness-raising initiative designed to highlight the latest developments and best practices in feeding all types of horses and ponies. Supported by many of your favourite feed brands, you’ll find great offers, discounts, gifts and information all week at Redpost Equestrian.

BETA Feed Awareness Week aims to give you all the information you need to make the best decisions for your horse's feeding regime.
This special week is being held from 27th March to 4th April, and you can keep up with all the news and information on our website and our dedicated local Facebook page.

Facebook Live Session - Tuesday 30th March at 12.30pm

Do you know what you're feeding your horse? Why is the list of ingredients on a bag of feed so important? Find out the answers to these questions and many more - as BETA's executive director Claire Williams and Louise Jones, registered equine nutritionist, BETA feed committee member and head of equine at Connolly's Red Mills - help us to understand feed bag labels in this fantastic live session on Facebook.

Looking for feeding advice?

At Redpost Equestrian we stock a huge range of feeds and supplements. We are always happy to give information on the products we sell, or to provide the details of specialist nutritional helplines who can advise further. We always recommend consulting with your vet for any specific dietary concerns. You can contact us by email to, by phone on 01803 812040, or use our Live Chat service.

The BETA Guide to dispelling feeding myths and building nutritional knowledge

Four Feeding Myths

  1. FALSE - Haylage is fattening and should be avoided by owners of fizzy horses and those prone to putting on weight or laminitis.
  2. Modern methods of haylage production and widespread availability mean that its nutritional value can be as variable as hay. In fact, some hay can be more calorific than haylage. For both forages, it depends on the quality of the grass and when it was harvested. Stalky, later-cut forage is best for good doers because it increases chew time while minimising calories.

  3. FALSE - Too much protein can lead to excitability
  4. Protein is not a primary energy source for horses and any excess protein in the diet is excreted in the horse’s urine. If your horse is prone to being excitable, avoid all mixes and look for fibre-based feeds containing less than 15% starch.

  5. FALSE - Some horses are allergic to sugar
  6. Glucose is the primary energy source utilised by the brain, which means it is impossible for horses to be allergic to sugar.

  7. FALSE - Feeds for laminitics must be molasses-free
  8. Feeds containing molasses are not automatically high in sugar. If your horse or pony is prone to laminitis, remember it is the total amount of sugar in the diet that is important and not the inclusion of individual ingredients such as molasses.

Fabulous Fibre

Horses and ponies should receive at least 1.5% of their body weight in fibre per day. Haylage contains higher moisture (water) content than hay, and a greater amount needs to be fed to provide the same amount of fibre/dry matter. Fibre is essential for gut health. Lack of fibre or poor-quality fibre can affect the horse’s ability to utilise the remainder of its diet.

Feeding Tips

  • Horses are trickle feeders, so feed little and often throughout the day
  • Horses are designed to eat fibre over all other feed sources, so bases your ration around the fibre component first.
  • Sudden changes in dietary management have frequently been associated with an increased risk of colic. Owners sometimes remember to change hard feed gradually, but forget that forage is the largest part of horses’ diets. Changes should be introduced over four to 10 days.
  • Horses should be fed by weight, not volume, so it is important to weigh your feed and conserved forage. As a rough guide, a Stubbs scoop typically holds 2kg of a cube, 1.5kg of a mix, and 0.5kg of chaff.

Fussy Feeders

If you have tried a variety of feeds but your horse still needs tempting, try mixing a little extra molasses, apple juice or blackcurrant cordial into the feed. You can also add grated or chopped carrots or apples, dried spearmint or a handful of horse treats. Some horses like their feeds wet or soaked and those dampened or soaked in warm water might prove attractive, especially in winter.

Supplement Fact

The law does not recognise a supplement as a category of feed - it is viewed in the same way as feed in a bag. All feed (including supplements) is divided into complementary (to feed alongside forage), feed material (a single ingredient such a seaweed), mineral feed (not fully balanced with other nutrients), and dietetic (feed for particular nutritional purposes).

Did You Know?

  • A horse’s stomach is about the size go a rugby ball (in a 500kg horse).
  • In the wild, horses can cover up to 20 miles per day in search of fresh grazing and water.
  • Calories are the same thing as energy - so “high energy” feeds will also be high in calories.
  • Molasses is a by-product of the sugar production industry. It can come from either sugar beet or sugar cane. It is added to feed to aid palatability as a horse’s natural diet contains sugar and the horse has evolved to recognise and generally prefer a sweet taste.
  • Balancers are small, nutrient-dense feeds formulated to provide a concentrated source of vitamins, minerals, and quality protein to balance the diet alongside a negligible level of energy (calories).

NOPS and EGUS - What Do They Mean?

  • NOPS – naturally occurring prohibited substances. Look out for feeds bearing the BETA NOPS mark because it shows that the manufacturer belongs to this assurance scheme, which has taken stringent measures to minimise the risk of cross- contamination.
  • EGUS – Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome. Look out for feeds with the BETA feed assurance mark that flags up feeds suitable for horses and ponies prone to this painful condition.

Download your own feeding poster

You can download a handy poster packed full of feeding tips here - perfect to display at the yard for all to see.

Find Out More

For more information on BETA Feed Awareness Week, click here. You can also check out our fantastic savings on feed here.

BETA Feed Quiz - Win a £100 Voucher!

Beta Feed Awareness Week

Test your feeding knowledge with the BETA Feeding Quiz, and and be in with the chance of winning a £100 voucher to spend with a BETA retailer!

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