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© Natural Feeding, Kleine Spekstraat 6, 3020 Winksele, Belgium

Why hay 24/7?

Supply your horse with enough hay

We cannot stress it often enough: a horse needs access to hay at all times. Colic, stomach ulcers, wind-sucking, weaving etc. This is only the tip of the iceberg of problems from which the horse could suffer if it does not receive the correct feed.

Natural Feeding

At Natural Feeding our aim is for horses to be fed in the most natural way. But what does this actually mean? In the wild horses live in large teams and spend most of the day eating. On average horses eat 15 hours a day, spread throughout the day and night. They spend the remaining time sleeping, walking around and playing. What is striking about large teams is that the horses often all do the same thing at the same time: whether they are eating, or snoozing. They will never all sleep at the same time though, as there are always a few horses that keep watch. At Natural Feeding we want horses that are in the stable and/or paddock to be able to simulate the natural behaviour of spreading their feeding throughout the day/night. When you think that in the wild horses eat on average 15 hours a day and in most cases, our stabled horses are supplied with hay for an average of four hours, it is easy to understand why some horses are not particularly happy.

The horse's digestion

We already know that in the wild a horse eats throughout the day and never consumes large quantities in one go, given that a horse's stomach is relatively small (with a volume of approximately 18 litres). It takes a bite, a couple of steps, another bite, a few more steps. A horse's stomach and intestines are designed for a slow but continuous eating pattern. When a horse chews, saliva forms, which in turn plays a role in the digestive process. The stomach wall produces gastric juices around the clock, even when the horse is not eating. Gastric acid is needed to digest the food. Once it is mixed in the stomach it is transferred to the intestines. The stomach is protected by a mucus layer, but the acid is so strong that it may damage an empty stomach, causing ulcers. In the wild, horses produce 40 to 60 litres of saliva, which is rich in sodium bicarbonate. This substance neutralises the gastric acid. Once broken down, the food enters the horse's small intestine, which is 21 to 25 metres long. The proteins are broken down by enzymes into amino acids that are later absorbed into the blood via the gut. Afterwards the feed pulp enters the blind gut, which is huge, one meter long with a volume of 30 litres. The blind gut has approximately the same function as a cow's forestomachs. Here the cell walls of the grass are broken down by bacteria and converted into fatty acids. These are reabsorbed and continue to the liver, where they are converted into glucose. The glucose is burned up or stored in the body to be used later. The food, now finely ground and saturated with water, enters the large intestine. The latter has a huge colony of bacteria that digest the fibres and other food components. Nutrients are absorbed into the bloodstream through the wall of the large intestine, along with the water. The large intestine is around seven to nine metres long. Lastly, there is the rectum where the faeces are formed before they are transported to the anus.

Hay! Hay! Hay!

A horse chews on one kilogram of hay for approximately 40 minutes. During this time no less than 3.5 litres of saliva is produced. With concentrated feed a horse only needs to chew for ten minutes to consume one kilogram of food, but just one litre of saliva is produced! In contrast, roughage is mixed and swallowed with much more moisture/saliva than with concentrated feed. And it is this saliva that is so important to achieve the right pH balance in the stomach. The entire digestive process must work properly from the outset, and this means a horse needs a lot of high quality roughage. It is very simple: hay, hay and more hay!

15 kg of hay in the Natural Feeding feed tub

On average, a 500 kg horse will consume 12.5 kg of hay per day. One may consume more than another. However, the most important thing is that your horse has access to a supply of hay 24/7. Depending on the season horses may eat more or less hay. In the autumn they may eat more hay to prepare for the winter. In the spring it will play and gallop around more. Don't worry if your horse eats all the hay in the feed tub in the beginning. After all, the horse is used to eating until everything is finished and then having to wait hours for the next portion. If you simply continue to fill the tub, after a short time the horse will understand that it will always have access to hay. It will start to eat more slowly and more gradually throughout the day. This is exactly the slow feeding effect we want to achieve! With the Natural Feeding feed tub a horse is able to eat in a natural position: with the head down. Most hayracks with which we are familiar are hung against the wall. The problem with this is that the dust falls downwards, right into the horse's nostrils. When a horse feeds from the Natural Feeding feed tub, the major advantage is that the windpipe can clean itself since the dust and irritating particles can be easily removed. The head always hangs down when the horse eats. In contrast, if the feed is higher up the dust particles are inhaled and must be coughed back up. Hay nets and containers with racks are a trend to extend the horse's feeding time. However, horses that have to extract feed from them often become frustrated. Moreover, hay nets are extremely dangerous. Since the horse always has to pull the hay from a 'strange' angle, the neck and back muscles are burdened in an unnatural way. In practice vets also come across horses with dental problems resulting from the use of hay nets and so-called slow feeders. They constantly get stuck in them or grind their teeth on the racks. With slow feeding the intention is not to make it more difficult for your horse to feed, but for it to be supplied with hay 24/7, which means it will automatically feed slower. Not only social contact and movement, but also adequate consumption of roughage is vitally important for the health of your horse.

Save an average of 30% in hay thanks to the Natural

Feeding feed tub

You can simply place the hay on the ground, but it is widely known that you cannot always rely on a horse to be clean. The horse will either defecate or urinate on it, or open up the hay using their front legs and it will be spread all around the stable in no time at all. Great, if you have to muck out the stable the following day. Our feed tub also offers the ideal solution for this problem! All the hay stays neatly in the feed tub and the horse cannot swing it around and tip everything out.  
The importance of hay 24/7
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© Natural Feeding, Kleine Spekstraat 6, 3020 Winksele, Belgium

Why hay 24/7?

Supply your horse with enough hay

We cannot stress it often enough: a horse needs access to hay at all times. Colic, stomach ulcers, wind-sucking, weaving etc. This is only the tip of the iceberg of problems from which the horse could suffer if it does not receive the correct feed.

Natural Feeding

At Natural Feeding our aim is for horses to be fed in the most natural way. But what does this actually mean? In the wild horses live in large teams and spend most of the day eating. On average horses eat 15 hours a day, spread throughout the day and night. They spend the remaining time sleeping, walking around and playing. What is striking about large teams is that the horses often all do the same thing at the same time: whether they are eating, or snoozing. They will never all sleep at the same time though, as there are always a few horses that keep watch. At Natural Feeding we want horses that are in the stable and/or paddock to be able to simulate the natural behaviour of spreading their feeding throughout the day/night. When you think that in the wild horses eat on average 15 hours a day and in most cases, our stabled horses are supplied with hay for an average of four hours, it is easy to understand why some horses are not particularly happy.

The horse's digestion

We already know that in the wild a horse eats throughout the day and never consumes large quantities in one go, given that a horse's stomach is relatively small (with a volume of approximately 18 litres). It takes a bite, a couple of steps, another bite, a few more steps. A horse's stomach and intestines are designed for a slow but continuous eating pattern. When a horse chews, saliva forms, which in turn plays a role in the digestive process. The stomach wall produces gastric juices around the clock, even when the horse is not eating. Gastric acid is needed to digest the food. Once it is mixed in the stomach it is transferred to the intestines. The stomach is protected by a mucus layer, but the acid is so strong that it may damage an empty stomach, causing ulcers. In the wild, horses produce 40 to 60 litres of saliva, which is rich in sodium bicarbonate. This substance neutralises the gastric acid. Once broken down, the food enters the horse's small intestine, which is 21 to 25 metres long. The proteins are broken down by enzymes into amino acids that are later absorbed into the blood via the gut. Afterwards the feed pulp enters the blind gut, which is huge, one meter long with a volume of 30 litres. The blind gut has approximately the same function as a cow's forestomachs. Here the cell walls of the grass are broken down by bacteria and converted into fatty acids. These are reabsorbed and continue to the liver, where they are converted into glucose. The glucose is burned up or stored in the body to be used later. The food, now finely ground and saturated with water, enters the large intestine. The latter has a huge colony of bacteria that digest the fibres and other food components. Nutrients are absorbed into the bloodstream through the wall of the large intestine, along with the water. The large intestine is around seven to nine metres long. Lastly, there is the rectum where the faeces are formed before they are transported to the anus.

Hay! Hay! Hay!

A horse chews on one kilogram of hay for approximately 40 minutes. During this time no less than 3.5 litres of saliva is produced. With concentrated feed a horse only needs to chew for ten minutes to consume one kilogram of food, but just one litre of saliva is produced! In contrast, roughage is mixed and swallowed with much more moisture/saliva than with concentrated feed. And it is this saliva that is so important to achieve the right pH balance in the stomach. The entire digestive process must work properly from the outset, and this means a horse needs a lot of high quality roughage. It is very simple: hay, hay and more hay!

15 kg of hay in the Natural Feeding feed tub

On average, a 500 kg horse will consume 12.5 kg of hay per day. One may consume more than another. However, the most important thing is that your horse has access to a supply of hay 24/7. Depending on the season horses may eat more or less hay. In the autumn they may eat more hay to prepare for the winter. In the spring it will play and gallop around more. Don't worry if your horse eats all the hay in the feed tub in the beginning. After all, the horse is used to eating until everything is finished and then having to wait hours for the next portion. If you simply continue to fill the tub, after a short time the horse will understand that it will always have access to hay. It will start to eat more slowly and more gradually throughout the day. This is exactly the slow feeding effect we want to achieve! With the Natural Feeding feed tub a horse is able to eat in a natural position: with the head down. Most hayracks with which we are familiar are hung against the wall. The problem with this is that the dust falls downwards, right into the horse's nostrils. When a horse feeds from the Natural Feeding feed tub, the major advantage is that the windpipe can clean itself since the dust and irritating particles can be easily removed. The head always hangs down when the horse eats. In contrast, if the feed is higher up the dust particles are inhaled and must be coughed back up. Hay nets and containers with racks are a trend to extend the horse's feeding time. However, horses that have to extract feed from them often become frustrated. Moreover, hay nets are extremely dangerous. Since the horse always has to pull the hay from a 'strange' angle, the neck and back muscles are burdened in an unnatural way. In practice vets also come across horses with dental problems resulting from the use of hay nets and so-called slow feeders. They constantly get stuck in them or grind their teeth on the racks. With slow feeding  the intention is not to make it more difficult for your horse to feed, but for it to be supplied with hay 24/7, which means it will automatically feed slower. Not only social contact and movement, but also adequate consumption of roughage is vitally important for the health of your horse.

Save an average of 30% in hay thanks to the

Natural Feeding feed tub

You can simply place the hay on the ground, but it is widely known that you cannot always rely on a horse to be clean. The horse will either defecate or urinate on it, or open up the hay using their front legs and it will be spread all around the stable in no time at all. Great, if you have to muck out the stable the following day. Our feed tub also offers the ideal solution for this problem! All the hay stays neatly in the feed tub and the horse cannot swing it around and tip everything out.