During winter, many owners will be thinking about supplementing their horse’s grazing with additional forage. If poor teeth or clinical conditions such as laminitis mean that hay and haylage are no longer suitable, a hay replacer will be essential.
Choosing a hay replacer
- Where possible, choose short chopped fibres to help extend eating time.
- If your horse is no longer able to manage short chopped fibre, look for feeds that can be soaked to make a mash.
- Some products are only suitable for feeding as partial hay replacers, these include sugar beet and ‘pure’ alfalfa pellets/ chaffs.
- Avoid grass based products for laminitics as they may contain high levels of water soluble carbohydrate.
- Check whether your chosen hay replacer(s) contains added vitamins and minerals to ensure your horse’s diet is balanced without feeding unsuitably high levels of any vitamins and minerals that can be harmful if over-supplied – a nutritionist will be able to offer more advice on this.
Tips for feeding hay replacers
- All hay replacers should be introduced gradually.
- Divide hay replacers into a minimum of 4 meals for those without access to grazing. Try to ensure the first and last meals of the day are given as early/ late as possible to avoid long periods without forage overnight.
- Always weigh your feed(s) before soaking.
- As a guide, a Stubbs scoop of short chopped fibre weighs approximately 300-500g whereas the same scoop of a pelleted option (such as grass nuts or alfalfa pellets) weighs approximately 2kg.
- Field kept horses may need to be turned out individually or separated at meal times.
Ideally hay replacers should be fed ad lib although this may not be practical for good doers. Equally, weighing your horse’s ration, at least to start with, is a good way of ensuring you are feeding enough. As a general guide, 1kg of hay replacer can be used to replace 1kg of hay. Total forage intake should not be restricted to less than 1.5% of current bodyweight per day on a dry matter basis. In practice, this equates to around 8.5-9kg of hay replacer for a 500kg horse with no grazing once you've accounted for the water content (all forage and forage replacers contain some water which doesn't count towards the horse's forage intake). However, these are minimum amounts and some horses and ponies will need more than this - speak to a nutritionist for more advice.
SPILLERS hay replacers
The following products are suitable for feeding as full or partial hay replacers and contain added vitamins and minerals to balance the diet:
SPILLERS SPEEDY-MASH Fibre is quick soaking sugar beet blend ideal for horses and ponies unable to chew short chop fibre. It is also suitable for laminitics.
SPILLERS Senior Super-Mash a 'medium calorie', quick soaking fibre blend suitable for those prone to laminitis.
SPILLERS HAPPY HOOF and HAPPY HOOF Molasses Free are low calorie, short chop fibres ideal for laminitics.
SPILLERS High Fibre Cubes are low in calories and can be soaked in warm water to make a mash.
For more advice on feeding a hay replacer contact the SPILLERS Care-Line
On what to feed and how much to my Ems pony who suffers from Lami. I need to replace all hay. He is currently on horsehage, dengie healthy hooves and bailys low cal, with a dew fibre nuggets in a ball, but i am looking to stop feeding the horsehage and or hay, as we have mixed batches on our yard and would be expensive to test every bale. On mornings i find he has little or no digi pulse but by tea time he has slight pulse . He is on thyroxatine and 1/2 a bute a day
Thanks for getting in touch. I think we could simplify her feeding regime quite a lot.
For a 500kg senior with poor dentistry needing support to maintain of gain condition we would advise feeding;
Senior Super-Mash - 4kg (dry-weight) per day when fed in addition to forage
If feeding Senior Super-Mash as a complete hay replacer then Senior Super-Mash can be fed ad lib or according body condition. If your horse can't eat any long fibre at all then the minimum amount for a 500kg horse would be 9kg per day (dry-weight).
For more specific advice for your horse please email the Careline on helpline.horsecareUK@effem.com letting us know her height and approximate weight as well as quantities per day of each feed at the moment.
If your pony cannot eat any grass or hay at all we recommend feeding a hay replacer at a minimum of 1.8% of bodyweight.
For example, a 200kg pony we'd suggest feeding 3.6kg per day of a hay replacer.
From our range HAPPY HOOF, HAPPY HOOF Molasses Free, SPEEDY-Mash Fibre, Senior Super-Mash or soaked High Fibre Cubes are suitable.
For more specific advise please contact our nutritionist on 01908 226626.
The time has come that i need to find a complete hay replacer for our spice. Spice is 25, 13.3 welsh x arab in light work. She is fed silvermoor vetern but she is starting to struggle with. Main feed is speedibeet , tumeraid and a vit and min supplemt. Any advise would be great as im feeling bit confused on the way forward. Thank you
Carole and spice
We'd recommend watching our video guide here: https://business.facebook.com/teamspillers/videos/1057316101285196/
If you need further help please contact our Care Line to speak to a nutritionist on 01908 22 66 26
If their teeth are in working order we would suggest either soaking or steaming (or both) to help reduce the dust & mould spores on the hay. Eating hay is still preferred as it will take longer to chew and digest so they will be able to eat for longer than a shorter chop or mash.
If you are certain you'd like to feed an alternative then you can look to feed:
Oat straw (no more than 30% of their total forage ration)
HAPPY HOOF Molasses Free
High Fibre Cubes
Please feel free to call us on 01908 226626 for further advice :)
For my 4yr old sec b. He will only take a mouthful of haylage and leave the rest. We have even tried soaking it. I need the condition on him ready to show next year. He is currently having sugar beet, spillers shin and condition, hi fi and fast fibre. He also lives out. Thank you.
That's very unusual to hear. Do your other horses eat the haylage too? Have you tried alternative sources of haylage or hay?
Have you checked his teeth?
We would try to recommend feeding hay or haylage for as long as possible as this provides the maximum forage over the longest period of time. Horses should eat for 22hrs of the day and so ad lib forage is always best. Hay replacers are often consumed at much quicker rates meaning the horse can go for longer periods of time without any fibre through the gut which is not ideal.
If you find that he really will not eat any hay or haylage and you have ruled out dental issues then we would suggest starting with a chaff as this will still encourage chewing and will slow them down further than a mash.
From our range, HAPPY HOOF and HAPPY HOOF Molasses Free would both be suitable. You can also feed pure oat straw chaff, alfalfa chaff and grass chaff (just be cautious of the sugar content in the grass chaffs).
It might be best to speak to one of our nutritionists directly on 01908 226626 to formulate the best diet plan for your pony.
Check out our video: https://www.facebook.com/teamspillers/videos/1057316101285196
We'd suggest trying some chopped fibres to slow him down, and making the mash even wetter - so it's more like a soup!
You can also try to split out the ration into multiple buckets around the stable or try a slow-feeder (Parallax are good) or similar to slow him down further.
All the best,
Just wanting advice please. My 36yr old mare, who I’ve had since she was 4, has started to drop hay (quidding). I’m not wanting to get vet/dentist involved as I don’t want to cause her any distress. She’s very well and fit for her age and eats her feed well (happy hoof or healthy tummy and fast fibre). She’s still chomping hay but obviously she’s dropping some and I don’t want her to loose weight. How much happy hoof could I give her as a hay replacement and should I continue to feed normally along side and offer hay for contentment? She’s a 14hh cob mare. Looks fairly good for her age.
One of our nutritionists will get in touch directly :)
Thanks for getting in touch. We need a little more info so have passed your details across for a nutritionist to get in touch directly.
I have a 25yr old shetland who is laminitic & has cushings, he's been on soaked hay for the last 7yrs but has now decided not to eat it. I'm obviously concerned he is going long periods without eating when stabled. His teeth aren't great so was thinking of giving him a hay replacement. What would you suggest?
We'd suggest initially choosing a short chop such as HAPPY HOOF if he can manage this at will still encourage chewing. If you feel he can't, then we'd suggest SPEEDY-MASH Fibre instead.
For further advice and information on quantities please get in touch directly to let us know more details about your pony - 01908 226626.