GAIN to sponsor new “Champion Collection”

The Curragh is delighted to announce that GAIN Equine Nutrition will strengthen their partnership with the racecourse by agreeing to sponsor a series of three high quality races for two-year-olds, which will be branded as the “Champion Collection”.

GAIN have enjoyed a long-standing association with the Curragh since 2012 when they initially sponsored the Irish St Leger, moving their support to the Group 2 Railway Stakes in 2014 and then adding the Listed First Flier Stakes last year. They will also be adding the Group 3 Marble Hill Stakes to their sponsorship portfolio this year for the first time.

The winning horse from the GAIN Railway Stakes will receive a free entry into the Keeneland Phoenix Stakes Group 1, which is a welcomed addition.

Trainer, Ger Lyons, who has won each of the three of the races in the Champion Collection said, “It is great to see GAIN extending their sponsorship with The Curragh this season and the Champion Collection is a fantastic initiative. Each race is blacktype and every season we hope to have two year olds talented enough to win races of this calibre. They are important markers through the season and ideally you’d like to move up the ranks and be represented in the Group 2 Railway Stakes on Derby weekend.”

Joanne Hurley, Irish Country Manager, GAIN Equine Nutrition noted, “We are delighted to strengthen our support of The Curragh racecourse this year by launching the Champion Collection series. This partnership has grown over the years and truly reinforces GAIN’s commitment to both the racing and bloodstock industries. We have enjoyed an excellent long-standing relationship with The Curragh and look forward to three very keenly-contested races.”

Evan Arkwright, Racing and Sponsorship Manager, commented, “We are excited to extend our very valued partnership with GAIN this year. There is already a natural synergy between all three races consistently attracting some of the best juveniles in Europe, so we are delighted to be able to officially link them through their generous sponsorship.”

Feeding the Growing Horse

The young growing horse achieves about 86% of its mature height and 46% of its mature weight in the first 6 months of life.  Growth in these early stages results in the laying down of new tissues which result in bone, tendon, ligament, muscle etc.  The foal’s diet needs to supply sufficient nutrients to meet this growth.  A young suckling foal will meet its requirements providing the mare is well nourished.

Some foals may need additional feed as milk production diminishes (typically after 3 months of lactation)

-Gradually introduce the foal to concentrate
-Creep feed separately from mare to control intake
-Feed specific products which require a low feed intake – high concentration of protein, vitamins and minerals
-GAIN Foal Pellets contain milk based proteins which are both high in quality and easy for the developing foal to digest

As the foal develops, forage will become an increasing part of its diet.  Energy, protein and amino acid intake have the greatest impact on the growth and development of growing horses.  A source of good quality protein is essential to ensure proper bone and muscle formation.

Rapidly growing and heavy topped foals can be those most prone to the onset of Developmental Skeletal Problems (DSP) which includes conditions such as physitis and osteochondritis dissecans.  Careful monitoring of stock is necessary to ensure a steady even growth curve is achieved in the first year in particular.

-Promote a moderate steady growth rate, particularly avoiding periods of low growth followed by periods of rapid growth (commonly referred to a ‘compensatory growth’
-Diets should contain adequate but not excess energy
-Calcium and phosphorus ratios should be maintained ideally Ca : P 2:1
-Maintain adequate intakes of minerals including calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, zinc, manganese etc.
-Provide an opportunity for sufficient but not excessive exercise
-As there is a genetic link to Developmental Skeletal problems avoid breeding mares to stallions that have produced a number of foals with DSP (this information is not available across all breeds)
-Studies have shown a link between the glyceamic index of the diet and the onset of OCD in particular
-Consult with your farrier, vet and a feed nutritionist if you have concerns over DSP in your foal/weanling

Premium Stud balancers such as GAIN Stud-Care 32 pellets have a role to play in the diet of heavy topped youngstock or those showing signs of the onset of Developmental Skeletal problems as they supply the optimum level of nutrients without excess calories.

Gradual introduction of concentrate feed will help to reduce the stress of weaning at any age; once a foal is weaned it is important that it has a quality source of lysine and threonine in their diet.  While these nutrients are limiting for proper growth they are not the only nutritional need of the foal.  Sufficient quantities of minerals and vitamins are essential for proper development and health.  These also need to be in balance with one another. Commercial feedstuffs are designed with these critical balances in mind.

Joanne Hurley is a nutrition specialist with GAIN Equine Nutrition. She holds a Masters in Animal Nutrition and Production from UCD. Joanne can be contacted on 087-7958573 or by email at

GAIN Equine Nutrition is delighted to launch a new Race Series, ‘GAIN The Advantage Series’.

GAIN The Advantage Series will be run over eight racecourses from April to October 2021.

There is an increase in the total prize fund for each race in the series, which is welcomed by trainers.

An overall prize of €5,000 worth of GAIN Equine Nutrition products to the winning trainer who tops the league.

Recognition & Rewards for Stable Staff & Breeders

Horse Racing Ireland has today announced that GAIN Equine Nutrition will sponsor a new series for the upcoming flat season. This new initiative, which was launched with Ado McGuinness Racing, will feature a variety of race conditions to cater for different trainers and horses throughout the season and encapsulates an increase of approx. 40% in prize money for each race.

Each trainer will receive points for their successes over the course of the series through a grading process, which is designed to give equal opportunity to all trainers to win the overall prize. The number of points per win or placing at each leg will be based on the number of winners the trainer recorded throughout 2020.

The series will commence on Classic Trials Day at Leopardstown Racecourse on 11th April and then proceed to Cork, Navan, Ballinrobe, Fairyhouse, Tipperary, The Curragh and culminate on 17th October at Naas where the overall winning trainer of the series will be decided.

Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Ado McGuinness Racing, Rush, Co. Dublin
Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

The series aims to recognise all connections of the horse, including the hard-working stable staff, with a draw for one lucky groom to win a three-night luxury stay in The Alex Hotel in Dublin, kindly supported by The Alex.

The series also aims to recognise the role of the Breeder. The winning breeder from each race will receive a framed photograph of the winning horse, and they will be entered into a draw to win one tonne of GAIN Equine Nutrition products. The lucky winner will be announced at the end of the series.

Joanne Hurley, GAIN Equine Nutrition, Irish Country Manager, said, “The team at GAIN are really excited to launch the GAIN The Advantage Series. Thoroughbred Racing and Breeding customers are a key part of our business and we are delighted that we can support so much of the industry through this series that travels right around the country. The stable staff are often the lesser known connections of the horse, but an equally important element to a racehorse’s success and it is fantastic that we can reward them through this series also.”

Paul Dermody, CEO HRI Racecourses commented, “We are delighted to partner with GAIN to create a new race series that recognises and rewards people from all parts of the industry. With the support of GAIN, this race series will further highlight the talent we have at every level within Irish racing and bring with it enhanced prizemoney opportunities.”

Michael Grassick, CEO Irish Racehorse Trainers Association (IRTA) noted, “GAIN The Advantage Series is good news for Irish Racing, the increase in prize money will be well received, especially after such a challenging year. The series gives everyone an opportunity to compete on a level playing field. It’s a very good and new approach and everybody in racing will benefit from this.”

Ado McGuinness Racing, Rush, Co. Dublin
Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

GAIN The Advantage Series 2021 – Races

Racetrack Date
Leopardstown 11 April
Cork 23 April
Navan 30 May
Ballinrobe 21 June
Fairyhouse 11 July
Tipperary 6 August
Curragh 25 September
Naas 17 October

 Trainers League Points Allocation Table

2020 Flat winners First Second Third Fourth
40+ 4 3 2 1
20-39 8 6 4 2
19 or less 12 9 6 3

Hogan GAINS support for 2021

GAIN Equine Nutrition is delighted to partner with Denis Hogan racing for the 2021 season.

Based in Cloughjordan, Tipperary, Hogan started his career as an apprentice jockey with Michael Halford. He then went on to ride for the legendary, Charlie Swan and is now a successful trainer in his own right.

With over 200 winners, Hogan is seeing success from both flat and national hunt divisions and the young trainer is set for further future successes this season.

Joanne Hurley, Irish Country Manager at GAIN Equine Nutrition, said: “Denis has been a valued customer of GAIN for many years. It has been great to see his yard go from strength to strength and to be part of his success as his chosen nutrition partner.  Denis and his team are great to work with and we wish them the very best for the year ahead.”

Denis Hogan commented:  “I am delighted to go into partnership with GAIN Equine Nutrition.  I have used their products since I began training over a decade ago.  They have a great range of products and our horses thrive on their feed.  I have worked with Michael Phillips, GAIN’s Equine Business Manager, from the beginning.  We have formed a good partnership over the years and we are delighted to continue on the journey.

“We have some really exciting horses in the yard at the moment; Make A Challenge, Bua Boy and Grammata are just some to name and also Moyhenna had been a great mare for us.  She came out of the Grand National trial very well, she holds an entry in the new Mares Chase on Friday at Cheltenham.

“If she does not go there, she will head to the Irish National. She also holds an entry in the English Grand National.  At the minute, the Irish National looks the best target for her. We couldn’t be happier with her and she should have a nice weight for the Irish National.  We are looking forward to her appearing again.”


Feeding the Laminitic horse or Pony

Laminitis is a painful condition which can lead to lameness in affected horses and ponies and in the most severe cases can be lead to total debilitation and even death.  There are several factors that are linked to the onset of laminitis from obesity, insulin resistance, non-structural carbohydrate overload, drug induced complications to endotoxaemia (commonly associated with retained placenta post delivery) and over consumption of lush young pasture.


There are some nutritional strategies which have been shown to help in the management of laminitis and even help prevent the onset of acute laminitis.


  • Find out the starch content of your concentrate diet – remove high starch feeds and replace with low starch alternatives e.g GAIN Easy Go Cubes
  • In obesity linked cases reduce access to pasture by strip grazing, using a grazing muzzle or restricting turn out time.  This will help to reduce body weight however do not starve replace pasture with soaked hay or unmolassed chaff
  • Feeding a low starch balancer such as GAIN Opti Care Balancer will provide the nutrients to encourage hoof wall growth without providing excess calories in the diet
  • Feed later cut hay with a low level of water-soluble carbohydrate (WSC) i.e. sugars of less than 12%
  • Soak hay for 30 minutes in warm water if possible before feeding to remove as many residual soluble sugars as possible
  • Feed 2% of the horses body weight as hay reducing to 1.5% if not losing weight
  • Turn out horses only at safer times of the year i.e. not during grass flushing times and overnight if NO frost (as fructan content of grass is particularly high after frost)
  • If the horse is sound, exercise whenever possible even walking out in hand
  • Regularly assess body condition and take into account breed types and natural body frame when assessing condition
  • Monitor weight loss and retest for insulin resistance following weight loss programme
  • Always check the placenta post foaling if not intact contact your vet to ‘flush’ the mares uterus
  • For underweight laminitics, energy should be supplied as fat and fibre or low starch based concentrates such as GAIN Easy Go cubes which is 8% starch


If possible horses should be weighed, use of a weigh tape is sufficient but is not totally accurate it is best to keep a record of your measurements to record and relate any changes in weight over time.

It is important when using a weigh tape to ensure that the horse is standing squarely on a hard, flat surface. The weigh tape is placed over the lowest point of the wither passing around the horse as close as possible to the back of the elbow on a slightly diagonal angle. Be careful not to pull the tape too tight and do not hold your fingers under the tape as this may give a false reading. It is important to have an accurate idea of your horses weight to allow you to calculate the feed ration, to assess any weight gain/loss and to allow you to correctly dose and administer wormers or medication.


Joanne Hurley is a nutrition specialist with GAIN Equine Nutrition. She holds a Masters in Animal Nutrition and Production from UCD. Joanne can be contacted on 087-7958573 or by email at


Feeding the Broodmare in Pregnancy and Lactation

Taking care of your mares’ nutrition in pregnancy and lactation will ensure that you maximize the return on your investment, will ensure better welfare for the mare and developing foal and will hasten your return to the breeding shed.  Foetal development in the mare is not linear, the majority of growth taking place in the last trimester of pregnancy.  Nutrition of the mare throughout her pregnancy is critical to ensure optimal skeletal development of the foal and quality colostrum production.   Although the foetus only gains about 35% of its foaling weight in the first 7 months of pregnancy, a well balanced diet will provide nutrients that can improve the health of the foal and ensure normal development.  Early pregnancy will often coincide with the availability of energy rich grass; excessive weight gain in early gestation is undesirable therefore, control grazing where necessary.  Close attention to stocking rates, strip grazing, mixed grazing or using a grazing muzzle are all ways to control access to pasture.


Another result of the ‘artificial’ breeding season is that thoroughbred mares are often heavily pregnant in winter, foaling when pasture quality is poor and temperatures are low. At the same time, broodmares are getting heavier as they approach foaling and they may become more sedentary. Brood mares in pregnancy have specific nutritional requirements that must be met. In late pregnancy (the last 3 months of gestation) the foetus begins to develop rapidly. Digestible energy requirements increase only by about 15% at this time, however, protein and mineral requirements increase to a greater extent since the foetal tissue being synthesized is quite high in protein, calcium and phosphorus.  Trace mineral supplementation is also very important during this period because the foetus stores iron, zinc, copper and manganese in its liver for use during the first few months after it is born.  Feeds that contain Bioplex® or protected trace minerals will deliver these nutrients more effectively versus those containing only inorganic minerals.  GAIN Stud Cubes and GAIN Stud Mix contain a comprehensive specification of all the nutrients required during late pregnancy with a particular focus on the quality of the vitamin and mineral content.


Mares in late pregnancy are often overfed in an attempt to supply adequate protein and minerals to the developing foal.  If the pregnant mare becomes fat during late pregnancy (later foaling mares are most susceptible particularly in areas where grass has become plentiful in spring months), she should be switched to a feed that is more concentrated in protein and minerals e.g. GAIN StudCare 32 Balancer. This will restrict her energy intake while ensuring that she receives adequate quantities of other key nutrients.


Barren mares in particular will benefit from being fed prior to conception and then through pregnancy on GAIN Stud Cubes, GAIN Stud Mix or GAIN StudCare 32 Balancer, all of which provide essential micronutrients and quality amino acids during the early and later developmental stages of pregnancy.


Vitamin E is also vital for broodmares during pregnancy.  Broodmares that have little access to green grass or good quality hay/haylage are at risk of a reduced vitamin E intake. GAIN Stud products contain high levels of vitamin E and Proviox® a natural plant antioxidant.  This should result in desirable blood levels of vitamin E which have been shown to have improved immune responses to vaccination and increased immunoglobulin IgG in the milk.


After foaling, the mare’s milk is the main source of nutrients for the growing foal and her nutrient requirements increase significantly during lactation.  It is essential that new born foals receive adequate quantity and quality of colostrum in the first 24 hours of life to provide them with immunity from microbial challenges in their environment.   During the first three months of lactation mares produce milk at a rate equal to about 3% of their body weight per day.  This milk is rich in energy, protein, calcium, phosphorus and vitamins. If she does not receive adequate nutrition during this period she may dip into her own body reserves and lose condition.  Rebreeding may then be problematic.  Therefore, the mare should be fed appropriate concentrate such as GAIN Stud Cubes or GAIN Stud Mix in conjunction with good quality forage to meet these increased requirements.  Later foaling mares or those foaling at a time of peak grass growth may be fed a high specification; low calorie feed balancer such as GAIN StudCare 32 Balancer.  Keeping regular checks on your mares’ body condition score throughout her breeding and lactating cycle will help you to manage your feeding programme, if at any stage you are concerned it is best to contact a feed specialist or nutritionist.


Joanne Hurley is a nutrition specialist with GAIN Equine Nutrition. She holds a Masters in Animal Nutrition and Production from UCD. She is based at Glanbia Agribusiness Head Office in Kilkenny and can be contacted on 087-7958573 or by email at

Winter Feeding Horses At Grass

Grass remains a major component of the diet of most horses and ponies in Ireland and the United Kingdom. Pastures vary in their composition from season to season and also from region to region.  Certain geographical areas may have pastures which are deficient in certain trace elements particularly copper, zinc, manganese and/or selenium.  Hence it is important to know if the pasture you graze is deficient in any trace elements especially if the pasture is the main source of nutrients. This is especially important to bear in mind during the wintertime.

The nutritional quality of forage in pasture varies tremendously throughout the year – from very good (or too good) in spring /summer to poor in winter. As the cold winter nights draw in and the temperature falls, pasture stops growing and eventually (if cold enough) becomes dormant. This pasture may look green and plentiful but actually contains indigestible woody fibre and fewer vitamins with a much-reduced feed value. This also means that the horses’ energy intake from pasture falls and they can consequently lose weight quickly, as more dietary energy is needed just to maintain body temperature.

It is a good idea to plan ahead and begin offering smaller quantities of hard feed and conserved forage, such as hay or haylage, in late autumn. This way the digestive system adapts minimizing the risk of digestive upsets. Concentrate supplementation is generally required during the winter months in order to meet the nutrient requirements of horses/ponies fed on forage-based diets. Feeding concentrates will also provide much needed amino acids, minerals and particularly vitamins that may be lacking in winter pasture and hay/haylage. The choice of concentrates will depend upon the factors such as:

-Condition of the horse/pony

As the nutrient requirements increase the level/type of supplementation must change accordingly.  A good quality forage (grass/hay/haylage) supplemented with a ‘balancer feed’ such as GAIN Opti-Care cubes (containing all the essential trace mineral and vitamins) would be suited to ponies in light work and easy keepers over the winter period.  In contrast horses in harder work will have an increased energy requirement. GAIN Easy Go cubes would be ideal for such individuals as it is a balanced feed, free from oats, low in starch and contains a comprehensive specification of trace minerals, vitamins and antioxidants tailored for the competitive animal. It is essential to monitor the health and condition of all horses and ponies over the winter months and adapt your feeding programme accordingly.

It is important to remember that hay, haylage and concentrates etc., all contain less water than fresh grass and so horses in the cold winter months will need to drink more. This is important if impaction colic is to be avoided. As water temperature falls horses drink less and so if possible, hot water should be added to take the chill off drinking water. A salt block is important as forage can be low in salt and this should be made freely available if more salt is required.

Grassland management can have a major influence on the quality of grass available to your horses and ponies during the winter. Good management practices include:

pasture rotation, mixed grazing; stocking rates can vary depending on level of supplementation of the diet.  The general rule of thumb for stocking rates is 2 acres for the first horse and 1 acre for each subsequent animal.  It is important to rest some pasture during the winter months in order to ensure optimal grass growth in early spring.  Overstocking of paddocks, particularly on wetter land can lead to poaching and hence reduced growth in the growing season.

Adhering as best as possible to the above advice will help your horse maintain condition and health over the winter months.

Christmas opening hours and delivery cut off for bulk feed and online orders

To ensure timely deliveries and to avoid disappointment over the holiday period, please ensure orders are made in accordance with the below recommendations.

Online Delivery Times:

Order Type Pre Christmas Delivery Cut Off 
Standard orders Thursday Dec 17th  (Noon)
Non Standard (Hazchem, bulky items & pallet deliveries) Thursday Dec 17th (Noon)

Normal delivery service resumes after the 4th of January 2021.


Bulk Feed Delivery Cut Off:

Monday the 21st of December is the last day to order feed if you wish to receive it before Christmas.

Delivery Date Order Cut Off
Fri 18th Dec Wed 16th Dec
Mon 21st Dec Thurs 17th Dec
Tue 22nd Dec Fri 18th Dec
Wed 23rd Dec Mon 21st Dec
Tue 29th Dec Tue 22nd Dec
Wed 30th Dec Wed 23rd Dec
Thurs 31st Dec / Mon 4th Jan Tue 29th Dec


Branch Opening and Closing Times:

Date Time
Christmas Eve Half Day
Christmas Day Closed
Saturday 26th Stephens Day Closed
Sunday 27th Closed
Monday 28th Closed
Tuesday 29th Open
Wednesday 30th Open
Thursday 31st Open
Friday Jan 1st New Year’s Day Closed
Saturday Jan 2nd Open

Normal trading hours resume on Monday the 4th of January 2021.


Please check with your local branch as some times may vary depending on branch location.

Customer Service Centre Lo-call 1890 321 321

Christmas Eve Closed
Christmas Day Closed
Saturday 26th Stephens Day Closed
Sunday 27th Closed
Monday 28th Closed
Tuesday 29th 8.30am – 6pm
Wednesday 30th 8.30am – 6pm
Thursday 31st 8.30am – 6pm
Friday Jan 1st New Year’s Day Closed
Saturday Jan 2nd 9am – 1pm


GAIN Equine Nutrition are delighted to announce our new title sponsorship of the first meeting at Cork Racecourse, Mallow for the 2021 season.

The partnership will see the GAIN Equine Nutrition race day take place on 2 January with a card of seven races, which includes the Handicap Hurdle, Handicap Chase and Novice Chases throughout the day.

‘Morosini’ was the victor in the feature race of the meeting in 2020 winning the Handicap Hurdle for jockey Mark Walsh and trainer Mrs. Jessica Harrington. This year, the GAIN Equine Nutrition Handicap Hurdle will hold a purse of €25,000 and will attract some top national hunt horses to the meeting.

Andrew Hogan, General Manager Cork Racecourse Mallow said: “In these challenging times we are thrilled to welcome GAIN as sponsors of the inaugural GAIN Equine Nutrition Race day in January 2021. GAIN have been long time major sponsors of the racing sector and we are very excited to collaborate with them for the opening fixture of the year.”

Joanne Hurley, Irish Country Manager, GAIN Equine Nutrition, commented; “We are delighted to partner with Cork Racecourse for the opening meeting of the New Year.

National hunt breeding and racing is so important to rural Ireland and we are thrilled to be able to support our trainers and bloodstock customers within this sector of the industry. We wish all connections the very best of luck”

Building Condition Without Fizz

There are a great number of horse owners who find it difficult to maintain condition of their horses and ponies particularly when they are working and during winter months where pasture is scarce. Horses such as these will mostly need higher calorie feeds which will not make them fizzy. Pregnant and lactating mares may lose condition and need to be built up before the next breeding season.

There are many reasons why some horses lose weight and it is important to check with the vet that there are no underlying health problems, such as poor appetite from ill health, worms, poor dentition and/old age, liver/kidney disease or intestinal malabsorption. These conditions require specific veterinary attention. Wormer resistance on a stud for example may lead to permanent damage, malabsorption of nutrients and general unthriftiness.

More commonly, otherwise healthy horses are often underweight because they are simply not meeting their energy needs due to one or more of the following reasons;

-Inappropriate choice of feed

-Forage is of poor nutritional quality

-Quantity of feed is not enough for the workload/breeding status

-Quantity of feed is not enough for their size

-Excitable or fizzy temperament

For example, horses in hard work need 100% more energy or calories than comparable horses at rest.

It is important to keep an eye on condition especially when horses are outdoors 24/7 and rugged up. Monitor bodyweight with a portable weighbridge or a weigh tape. When too few calories are supplied horses will take the extra calories they need from their fat stores first and they will lose condition sometimes quite rapidly. When fat stores are depleted energy will then be drawn from muscle tissue. This process is known as catabolism.

Forage first

Ideally forage should be really good nutritional quality and if possible, it should be fed ad lib. This means good levels of digestible fibre and very low levels of indigestible fibre which sits in the horses’ hind gut and reduces the natural appetite. Good quality forage is a natural feed providing fibre that is broken down to volatile fatty acids (VFA’s) by hind-gut microbes in the gut. Many of these VFA’s are converted to energy sources in the body i.e. fibre is a vital source of calories for horses.

Hay has a higher dry matter (less moisture) than haylage, so if feeding haylage a greater quantity should be fed than if feeding hay to achieve the same dry matter intake. If possible, the forage should have been tested by the seller before purchase, so the better forage can be chosen.

Feeding poor nutritional quality forage (e.g. late cut hay) which contains higher levels of indigestible fibre results in characteristic “hay bellies”. This makes horses appear fat when actually the top line shows horses are underweight. Feeding poor quality forage also reduces voluntary intake of feed.

The bigger the horse the more feed is required, some owners call their bigger horses “summer horses” as they do well in the summer on good grazing. Once the summer grass has gone they tend to drop off condition very quickly. These horses need significantly more calories to replace those missing from good pasture.



Horses in poor condition will need more calories from hard feed, choosing a nutritionally balanced conditioning compound feed to provide the additional calories required. Often increased amounts of low energy feeds such as cool mix/cubes are fed but conditioning feeds are a far better choice, supplying more appropriate calorie levels, vitamins, minerals and quality amino acids to help build lost muscle and general condition. Ideally feed a concentrate feed with a Digestible Energy (D.E.) of 12MJ/kg or more but don’t feed more than 2.5kg of concentrate feed in any one feed.

Some horses waste energy through over excitable or “hot” behaviour and are less able to maintain weight. This can be natural i.e. a genetic tendency or highly-strung types or it may be the environment including feed.

Excitable horses should be turned out as much as possible and fed a high calorie but low starch, high fibre/oil concentrate feed such as GAIN Freedom Cubes or mix containing 12.5MJ/kg to help maintain a calm temperament.  Some conditioning feeds are high in starch (as much as 26%) and this can make horses overly temperamental without owners realising it so choose a high calorie feed containing a maximum of 10-15% starch.

Stabilised rice bran such as GAIN Infinity contains 19MJ/Kg of Digestible Energy and supplies only 8% starch, and this may be fed additionally to the diet to supply extra calories to help build condition without fizz.

Other high calorie fat sources, such as linseed or soya oil can be fed to increase the energy density of the diet, but extra vitamin E may be required if not feeding a nutritionally balanced formulated feed. Vegetable oils contain three times the energy of oats; one cup of oil has the same number of calories as around 0.7 kg of oats. Unmolassed beet pulp provides readily digestible fibre, soothing pectins and mucilages contributing to the energy supply and is an excellent mixing feed if extra supplements are being fed.

Feeding a yeast and/or prebiotic supplement will help ensure optimal fibre digestion in the hindgut, thereby increasing VFA’s for energy and helping to nutritionally stabilise the hindgut. The feed ranges from Gain contain added yeast to support digestive function.

If horses are poor feeders and in bad condition, feeding a B-complex vitamin supplement may help horses with reduced appetites. B vitamins are essential for efficient energy metabolism and are often low following illness, stress, injury and antibiotic treatment.

Zoe Davies MSc.Eq.S.,R.Nutr.