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Photo of Nerida standing with her horse at sunset

Be Part of the Change to Feeding Horses Better. Safer. Smarter. (The FeedXL Backstory)

FeedXL officially started out almost 2 decades ago as CD-ROM based software. But truth is, FeedXL has been somewhere in the works since I was a kid, growing up on a cattle farm in rural NSW, Australia.

As a child, the only place I ever wanted to be was with my horses. I still remember heading off to Uni and being so sad I wouldn’t see my favourite mare for weeks on end!

BUT, at Uni I also had the amazing opportunity to take on a PhD in equine nutrition. Once finished, I started consulting to feed companies and very quickly realised this problem… that horse owners had no way of ACTUALLY knowing if what they were feeding their horse was meeting that horse’s requirements.
So we built one! And it has slowly morphed into what we know as FeedXL.

Today, FeedXL has helped more than 26,000 horse owners to feed Better. Safer. Smarter.

Here is FeedXL’s story, filmed (during the worst drought in history) with Poet, Popcorn, PomPom and Chewy the dog at FeedXL headquarters in Tamworth, Australia.





 

FeedXL is truly a labour of love for me. And I feel so much gratitude to you, and all of our members for being a part of the change that really is all about feeding horses in a way that makes life better for them!

Thanks for sharing the journey. I hope you enjoy seeing how it all started!

Xx
Nerida

DO YOU HAVE A QUESTION OR COMMENT? DO YOU NEED HELP WITH FEEDING?

We would love to welcome you to our FeedXL Horse Nutrition Facebook Group. Ask questions and have them answered by PhD and Masters qualified equine nutritionists and spend time with like-minded horse owners. It’s free!

Click here to join the FeedXL Horse Nutrition Facebook Group

Horse standing in field

Are You Feeding Your Horse Unnecessary Supplements?

One of the pitfalls of feeding your horses without actually calculating what you are feeding is paranoia that maybe your horse isn’t getting enough of the most important nutrients. That maybe he is missing something and this is going to cause problems, or make him sick!

As a horse owner I am sure you experience this feeling of ‘maybe I should just add a little bit more…’ or ‘maybe I should add that supplement I was told about because it sounds important, I meet those requirements…’ or ‘I’ll just add this, and this (and this) and even this just to be sure I am covering everything!..’.

Problem is, feeding like that still doesn’t ensure you actually meet requirements. AND it is So. Very. Expensive!

Which is where FeedXL comes in… when you can feed with certainty because you know what you are feeding is meeting requirements you no longer need to add extras as a ‘just in case insurance’. With FeedXL you can see which requirements are met, and which may not be and adjust your diet accordingly.

This diet, for a mare named Smarty is the perfect example of this. Smarty’s owner has done a great job of putting together a diet that meet’s all of her requirements, but watch as I am able to completely remove one supplement PLUS reduce another supplement by 25%. Meaning every 4 days now she gets essentially a FREE dose… or put another way her supplement bucket will last 25% longer and cost her 25% less!

 

 

Do you have a question or comment? Do you need help with feeding?

We would love to welcome you to our FeedXL Horse Nutrition Facebook Group. Ask questions and have them answered by PhD and Masters qualified equine nutritionists and spend time with like-minded horse owners. It’s free!

Click here to join the FeedXL Horse Nutrition Facebook Group

 

Two Feeds, and Yet Requirements Are Still Not Met…

You have spent time researching feeds and found 2 you really like. You have carefully monitored your horse’s body condition and are only feeding enough of these feeds to maintain good bodyweight. You are feeding a largely forage based diet.

You are doing everything right!.. Except.

The small amount of feed being fed is not enough to cover your horse’s vitamin and mineral requirements… which will eventually result in hoof, joint, performance, immune function and general health issues! Problem is, you won’t see that until something big happens.

This is the problem with vitamin and mineral deficiencies. You can’t see them until all of a sudden the really blow up in your face! Hooves fall apart. Joints break down. The immune system becomes so compromised that it can’t mount an effective immune response to a simple disease challenge. Performance suffers. Infertility shows up.

Watch as I walk through Ash’s diet here. Ash has a lovely diet. Except… it doesn’t meet requirements. So we switch out two feeds for one balancer pellet. And now we meet all requirements with less feed!

 

 

Do you have a question or comment? Do you need help with feeding?

We would love to welcome you to our FeedXL Horse Nutrition Facebook Group. Ask questions and have them answered by PhD and Masters qualified equine nutritionists and spend time with like-minded horse owners. It’s free!

Click here to join the FeedXL Horse Nutrition Facebook Group

 

Horse feeding on the meadow

What to Do When a Hay Only Diet Is Not Enough for Your Horse

Forage based diets are THE best! There are so many reasons why, if you can, you should feed diets that are close to 100% forage. BUT, forage only is not enough. 95% + of the forages I see analysed don’t contain enough of one to several minerals to meet a horse’s requirement.

Plus for horses in heavy work, lactating mares and young, growing horses forages often do not contain enough calories or protein to properly meet requirements.

And this is exactly what is happening here. Watch as I run through an 18-month-old filly’s diet. Her owner plans to feed a variety of hays, which is PERFECT! But the hay alone is not able to support correct growth and development.

We use FeedXL to have a look at a couple of feed options that will fill in all the diet gaps left by the hay!

Simple, just one feed.

Cost-effective, it’s not multiple feeds and supplements.

Balanced, with the right nutrition the filly will grow and develop correctly, hopefully with bones and joints that remain sound for her lifetime!

 

 

Do you have a question or comment? Do you need help with feeding?

We would love to welcome you to our FeedXL Horse Nutrition Facebook Group. Ask questions and have them answered by PhD and Masters qualified equine nutritionists and spend time with like-minded horse owners. It’s free!

Click here to join the FeedXL Horse Nutrition Facebook Group

 

Why a Forage Only Diet Might Not Be Enough for Your Horse

If you can, you should just feed your horse forage. Pasture, hay, haylage, chaff, forage cubes.

Forage is the most natural source of calories and protein for your horse. And it does the best job of keeping your horse’s gut and its bacteria and fungi (the microbiome) functioning as it should.

We know, from mounting research, that keeping all the microbiome critters happy is a HUGE key to keeping our horses healthy.

Many horses (my own included) do really well on a forage only diet. Mine get their pasture, a small amount of alfalfa (lucerne hay) and some grass hay when the pasture is lush (to keep up their fibre intake). Even when they are working pretty hard this is enough to maintain their condition. They don’t need a feed.

BUT, just forage is not enough!

‘What!?’ you say? But you just said feed only forage?!

Yep, I did. But here’s the thing…

Forage only diets, in 95%+ cases, are not enough to meet a horse’s mineral requirements. And depending on the quality of your forage or the age of your hay, it probably won’t meet vitamin requirements either!

So my horses maintain their weight just on pasture and hay. BUT, they would be severely deficient in copper, zinc, manganese, selenium, iodine and sodium all year round. Then depending on the season (like the 3 years of drought we had between 2017 and 2020), they would also be low on vitamin A, vitamin E and vitamin B1.

Horses that are low in these nutrients will eventually start to have issues with joint and hoof health, immune function, energy generation and muscle damage during exercise. And the problem is, you often won’t see a problem until something goes really wrong!

So you really must top these nutrients up using a supplement or balancer pellet.

Let me show you how this looks in FeedXL for my horses on our pasture:

 

 

So forage only diets are brilliant! But please, to keep your horse healthy and strong, be sure to top up the nutrients that are commonly missing from forage only diets!

And if you want a really easy way to check what your horse’s diet might be missing, let FeedXL show you. FeedXL is completely unbiased and won’t ever push you to buy a feed or supplement product. It simply works out what your horse needs. Adds up what is in the diet and then shows you if his nutrient requirements are met.

Then YOU can pick whatever product you like from any company you choose to fill the gaps! It is simple, accurate and great insurance for your horse’s long-term health!

 

Do you have a question or comment? Do you need help with feeding?

We would love to welcome you to our FeedXL Horse Nutrition Facebook Group. Ask questions and have them answered by PhD and Masters qualified equine nutritionists and spend time with like-minded horse owners. It’s free!

Click here to join the FeedXL Horse Nutrition Facebook Group

 

How to Account for a Hay Slow Feeder in FeedXL

Hay slow feeders come in many sizes and designs. The principle behind them is to a) reduce waste, and b) slow intake of hay.

Our FeedXL members occasionally ask, “how do I take into account the use of a slow feeder?” The simple answer is you probably don’t need to. While slow feeders are a fantastic tool for slowing the intake of hay, they generally don’t limit your horse’s daily intake of hay i.e. it just takes them longer to eat the same amount of hay. This has several benefits including maximising the time your horse spends eating (mimicking grazing behaviour) to prevent boredom and reduce the risk of developing gastric ulcers.

To enter the amount of hay your horse is eating from a slow feeder each day into FeedXL, just weigh the hay you are putting in the slow feeder and enter this amount in FeedXL

If you’re wanting to reduce the intake of hay for weight control, you ideally need to feed a set (restricted) amount in your horse’s slow feeders per day (rather than free access to a round bale or similar). While a slow feeder will be beneficial in reducing the time taken to eat the restricted amount of hay, keep in mind that you may need to still divide the hay into more than 2 feedings per day.

To get a gauge on how regularly you need to top up your slow feeders, spend a day or two observing your horse’s hay intake (from the slow feeder) and take note of how long it takes them to finish the hay. Ideally, you don’t want your horses going longer than 4 to 5 hours without eating.

P.S. If you want to use a slow feeder but you can’t use anything with a net because your horse has shoes, check out The Savvy Feeder, we think they are brilliant!

 

Do you have a question or comment? Do you need help with feeding?

We would love to welcome you to our FeedXL Horse Nutrition Facebook Group. Ask questions and have them answered by PhD and Masters qualified equine nutritionists and spend time with like-minded horse owners. It’s free!

Click here to join the FeedXL Horse Nutrition Facebook Group

 

Beautiful laminitis prone Horse wearing a grazing muzzle to control its intake of grass

How to Measure Pasture Intake When Your Horse Wears a Grazing Muzzle

Grazing muzzles are useful for reducing your horse’s pasture intake. They can be used for easy-keepers when you are trying to reduce energy levels within the diet. Or when your horse suffers from a health condition which requires a reduction of non-structural carbohydrates (starch + sugar) in their diet. Grazing muzzles have gained popularity with many horse owners as they allow their horse to socialise, exercise and be continually stimulated through grazing.

Studies have shown grazing muzzles can reduce forage intake by as much as 80%. There are many factors which affect intake including acclimatization to the muzzle, pasture height and type of muzzle used and your individual horse’s tenacity when it comes to getting grass to poke through the hole.

To enter pasture intake in FeedXL when your horse is wearing a grazing muzzle, subtract up to 80% from the time your horse spends grazing. For example, if your horse is allowed to graze muzzled for 15 hours and is dry-lotted the remainder of the time, you might enter ‘3 hours’ as the amount of time your horse ‘grazes’ into FeedXL (80% of 15 is 12 hours; 15 x 0.8 = 12 hours: 15 – 12 = 3 hours of ‘grazing time’.

Observe your horse grazing pasture while muzzled and watching his body condition over time. This will allow you to get a better estimate of actual intake by your horse. You may find that reducing the ‘time’ grazing in FeedXL by 80% is too much, so adjust it as you see fit.

 

Do you have a question or comment? Do you need help with feeding?

We would love to welcome you to our FeedXL Horse Nutrition Facebook Group. Ask questions and have them answered by PhD and Masters qualified equine nutritionists and spend time with like-minded horse owners. It’s free!

Click here to join the FeedXL Horse Nutrition Facebook Group

 

Horse eating from a bucket

Should I Enter Ingredients in FeedXL as Wet or Dry Weight?

When using products commonly soaked prior to feeding (things like beet pulp, copra meal, high fibre pellets and hay that is soaked to remove sugars), always enter them into your FeedXL rations as their dry weight.

The Two Main Reasons to Always Enter Dry Weight:

  1. When you add water it increases the weight of what you are feeding, but it doesn’t add any nutrients itself.For example, if you are feeding 500 grams of beet pulp which contains 5.9 MJ of digestible energy, then this is the amount of energy we want to be taken into account in the diet. If you add 1.5 litres of water to that 500 grams of beet pulp and feed a total of 2 kilograms of WET beet and enter THIS weight into FeedXL, FeedXL will not realise the water has been added and think you are feeding 2 kilograms of dry beet and therefore put 23.6 MJ of energy into the diet. Big difference! And a huge overestimation of the actual energy being fed.
  2. FeedXL also won’t be able to accurately estimate pasture intake if you enter the wet weight of the feeds because FeedXL won’t know that a portion of your feeds are water and will therefore count that water weight as feed weight and will reduce pasture intake accordingly.

You might now be wondering why we don’t then allow you to specify you are feeding the product wet – the answer is simply because FeedXL can’t possibly know how wet you feed your soaked ingredients and you will likely make them a bit wetter or a bit drier each time you feed, so it is most accurate to just have everything entered in its dry form.

So, always remember to weigh out your feeds and enter amounts into FeedXL in their dry form in order to accurately develop rations for your horse. Then go ahead and add as much or as little water as you like!

 

Do you have a question or comment? Do you need help with feeding?

We would love to welcome you to our FeedXL Horse Nutrition Facebook Group. Ask questions and have them answered by PhD and Masters qualified equine nutritionists and spend time with like-minded horse owners. It’s free!

Click here to join the FeedXL Horse Nutrition Facebook Group

 

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