Torch weight loss club – from fat to fabulous issue 4
When it comes to fat fighting for our four-legged friends, forage is the key!
Forage rather than grass should be the staple of the diet in order to achieve weight loss. Stalky late cut meadow hay is the ideal forage. Young, green hay is often too high in sugar to achieve weight loss so soaking is necessary to get rid of excess sugar. The length of soaking can be up to 12 hours but will depend on the sugar levels. The only way to know the exact sugar content of your forage is to perform a forage analysis. This is offered by many feed companies at little expense.
The exact amount to feed will again depend on the sugar content of your forage but as a rule, to achieve weight loss, the horse should be fed no more than 1.5% of his current body weight in hay – take a look at the below feeding guidelines to help. For laminitics, this can gradually be lowered to 1.2% of body weight.
Hay should be weighed before soaking. Digital luggage scales tend to be the cheapest and easiest to use.
Silage is acceptable but tends to be higher in sugar than hay and cannot be safely soaked. Straw can replace up to 30% of the forage intake but always speak to your vet before starting on a straw diet as this is not appropriate for all. Some older horses with dental problems may not be capable of chewing hay, in which case low energy chaffs and hay replacers are available.