About Dr Nerida McGilchrist

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Entries by Dr Nerida McGilchrist

Feeding Horses Before Exercise

The question of whether you should feed a horse before exercise is one that is commonly asked. Most of us were told over and over again by our parents not to swim for 30 minutes after eating or we would get a muscle cramp, so we generally tend to think that eating before exercise is not a wise thing to do. But is this the case for horses? The answer is yes and no…

Keeping the Hindgut Healthy

Like humans, horses are classified as monogastrics, however unlike humans, horses have a highly specialised and enlarged caecum and colon, collectively known as the ‘hindgut’.

In this newsletter we investigate the role the hindgut plays in maintaining overall health, what the implications are for an unhealthy hindgut and how you can keep your horse’s hindgut healthy.

Feeding Senior Horses

There is little more precious than the old horse around the place. These oldies are often the dependable horses that look after a novice rider or give a young horse some confidence when out on the trails. Because they are so valuable and literally have a lifetime of experience under their ‘girth’, we want to do our best to keep them around as long as possible. While good veterinary, farrier and dental care are important for maintaining the long term health of your geriatrics, their health care should always be based on a solid foundation of good nutrition.

As horses age they go through several physiological changes that affect how and what you should feed to keep them as healthy as possible. Detailed below are four of the most important of these changes and how you can best manage them from a feeding and nutrition perspective.

Feeding the Laminitic Horse

Laminitis can be time consuming, painful for your horse and heartbreaking for you. A proper diet can make it a whole lot easier.

Low sugar is vital (we could get all very technical here and call sugars non‐structural
carbohydrates, water soluble carbohydrates, starches, ether soluble carbohydrates or non‐fiber
carbohydrates, but let’s just keep it simple and say ‘sugar’). Sugar results in high blood insulin
after eating and is believed to be the major cause of laminitis and certainly most cases of grass or
pasture laminitis. Good quality protein is important for aiding in hoof tissue repair and meeting
requirements for vitamins and minerals is also a must.

Feeding the Easy Keeper

The mistake a lot of us make with an overweight horse is just thinking that we shouldn’t feed it very much at all, and generally feed it a very low quality diet (straw for example) or lock it up so it can’t eat much at all. The problem with doing this is that while you will do a good job of restricting calories and causing weight loss, you will also be severely restricting protein, vitamin and mineral intakes, and in doing that, you are going to cause more health problems than you can imagine.

Alfalfa (Lucerne) Hay: Friend or Foe?

Known as lucerne in the UK, Australia and New Zealand, alfalfa hay enjoys a varied reputation amongst horse people, with some using it as a highly valued component of their horse’s diet and others avoiding it with almost religious fervour. So, who is right? Is alfalfa hay a suitable forage for horses? Or are there other more suitable forages? The answer is yes, and yes. Alfalfa hay is a valuable forage for horses when fed to the right classes of horses and in the correct amounts for its full benefit to be realised. The following article looks at the nutrients contained in alfalfa hay and its many and varied uses in the horse industry.

Complete Feeds vs Balancer Pellets: Choosing a Feeding Method

Complete Feeds, Concentrates/Balancer Pellets and Supplements—Choosing how to feed

While there are many commercial feed and supplement options available, they can be classified into 3 broad categories; complete feeds, concentrates/balancer pellets and supplements. Depending on your own personal preferences you can use one or a combination of these options to put together a diet for your horse.

This article will take a look at what the 3 options are, how they should be used and the advantages and disadvantages of each one.

Avoiding Gastric Ulcers in Horses

Equine Gastric Ulcers: Using feeding management to reduce their incidence and severity

Equine gastric ulcer syndrome (EGUS) is a major equine health problem worldwide. Some studies have reported an incidence of ulcers in performance horses in excess of 90% of horses training. A more recent study conducted in Western Australia found 53% of horses had ulcers.

Feeding for Weight Gain

7 Simple steps for putting weight on your horse

While many of us struggle to keep weight off our horses (and ourselves!) it seems a large number of horse owners have equal trouble when it comes to putting weight on their horses. Putting weight on, and keeping weight on a horse that is a “hard keeper” can sometimes be a frustrating task for the horse’s owner. But, it needn’t be a difficult thing to do.

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