Slowfeeding is slow food intake.
So the kind of nutrition that is closest to the natural one. On our farm, there is a hay net in the pastures and in boxes! It covers 100% of the horse’s need for slow food intake. What is slowfeeding? Why do we support this idea? I’ll try to satisfy my curiosity
Currently, the most popular horse keeping system is stable breeding.
In some stables, horses spend 10-12 hours in the paddock, in others 1-2 hours in a pasture with lush grass. They spend the rest of the time in the stable. Concentrated fodder is most often served in stables 3 times a day, sometimes 2. Concentrated fodder is processed (muesli, granules), which additionally shortens the time of their intake. It was assumed that the horse would be given roughage – sometimes half a cube and sometimes 2 slices. It does not matter, the horse can consume this amount of loose hay quickly.
Nobody will deny that the horse is an animal of open spaces. Designed to move for a minimum of 18 hours a day in order to constantly search for food.
In the wild, the horse traveled up to 20-30 kilometers a day. From a clump of grass (not necessarily similar to the juicy grass we want to feed him now), to a clump of grass or shrubs, weeds, herbs or a watering hole. In the meantime, he indulged in short naps and rest (he spent about 6 hours a day motionless). This lifestyle has led to a series of anatomical and physiological adaptations. The horse’s digestive tract is not designed to be 100% full or completely empty, which is why many owners struggle with the problems of colic and ulcers, but also mouthfulness!
In order to avoid trouble, we should try to introduce the feeding rhythm that is closest to the natural one.
It is extremely important that the horse does not eat with its full mouth. It doesn’t do it in nature. In fact, he could eat one blade of grass at a time.
Forage is the basis!
The horse must have constant access to roughage. A hay net or other safe type of feed is the best to serve it. Otherwise, the horse will swallow large chunks of poorly chewed feed. The horse, eating small bites, thoroughly chews the food, digestion begins at the very beginning of the gastrointestinal tract and the hay, thoroughly mixed with saliva, goes to the stomach.
The amount of feed that IS and is waiting to be eaten is also of great importance.
Seeing that there is plenty of food, the horse will eat more slowly and in smaller portions. He will also have time for other horse activities. Walk, play with companions, take a nap. He will eat, slowly digest and come back to eat again what is best for his health.
We know this view: a horse released from a box to a pasture or a paddock on which a hay bale stands disappears in the depths of grass or a bale for a long time. It pushes itself open and then digests for a long time. One and a half hours after he stops eating, stomach acid is produced… Come back! After all, stomach acid is produced constantly. It is neutralized by the saliva that enters the stomach when the horse eats food. When a horse stops eating, acid builds up as saliva production stops. Ulcers are the result of acid acting on the stomach walls. To prevent them, the horse should be given uninterrupted access to roughage. Interesting fact: a horse under natural conditions “produces” an incredible amount of saliva, about 40 liters a day!
Horses are fully dependent on their owners.
Therefore, we are responsible for their well-being and health. We provide them with the right amount of exercise every day, veterinary care, and appropriate feed. Let us take care that they can eat in the most natural and healthiest way for them. The hay net is safe, loading hay into it can be simple (it is enough to choose a net with a suitable diameter, for example a bottom bag), it significantly reduces the costs of keeping horses and makes caring for horses less time and labor-intensive.
Regardless of whether we have a sports horse, recreational horse or other horse for special tasks, it does not matter what function our horse performs on a daily basis. The basic need for slow roughage intake is the same for everyone. Regardless of whether we keep the horse on a fenced paddock or in a box, what we can do to make it healthier is to take its time with food by giving hay in a mesh with a medium mesh size.