Feeding for Performance | Equestrian Guide

Dengie Horse Feeds have experienced a large increase in enquiries to the Feedline for advice on feeding horses prone to fizzy or excitable behaviour. There were almost four times as many in January 2021 compared to the same month last year.

In many cases, there are simple changes that can be made to the diet to reduce the chances of over-excitable behaviour. One such example is removing cereals to reduce starch levels. The main source of starch in horses’ diets tends to be cereal grains. Starch is rapidly broken down to glucose, which passes from the digestive system into the bloodstream. Keeping starch intake to a minimum is essential; as a comparison, a typical ‘Cool’ Mix or Pony Cube would contain around 20% starch compared to feeds in the Dengie Alfa-A range which contain only 2% starch.

Sources of slow-release energy are those based on fibre and oil, which are broken down slowly in the horse’s digestive system so you don’t get the associated large peak in blood glucose, as you would with starches and sugars. Many people underestimate just how much energy good-quality fibre can contribute to the ration. A fibre and oil diet can provide plenty of energy for horses in harder work. Dengie Alfa-A Oil, for example, contains as much energy as a competition mix (12.5Mj/kg DE) but with around 10 times less starch.

A study supported by Dengie and published in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science, showed that horses fed a fibre and oil-based diet had lower resting heart rates and were less reactive to novel stimuli compared to horses fed the same amount of energy but from cereals.

A fibre and oil diet, which provides slow-release energy, is ideal for horses like Anna Miller’s 8-year-old Stallion, Hiawatha. Hiawatha is a worrier and as a result, can quickly drop weight and condition. He is fed Dengie Alfa-A Oil as it contains a similar energy level to a competition mix or cube but is significantly lower in sugar and starch – 4.5% and 2% respectively. Alfa-A Oil provides the extra calories Hiawatha requires to maintain his weight, without promoting his anxious behaviour.


Dengie provides free feed advice. Request a free personalised feeding plan today using this link

You can also contact our shop staff available 7 days a week

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