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SUPPLEMENTS term that relates to how much of the product would be left after burning at 500ºC and usually relates to minerals. The 52% ash in NAF Haylage Balancer shows that it is rich in minerals, and in this case that includes the antacids that would also show up as ash.

Ingredients Legally ingredients must be listed in inclusion order, i.e. with the largest first. Look out for products high in fillers, such as dextrose (sugar) or soya, these may not represent the value for money they initially appear to.

As of September 2010 the European laws surrounding labelling have been updated, resulting in differences showing up on the labels. Rather than just ‘Ingredients’ listing everything in the product, you are now likely to see ‘Composition’ and ‘Additives’. Composition relates to those ingredients that are classified as feedstuffs. This encompasses a long list including herbs and fruits, plants and cereals, some of the major minerals such as magnesium oxide, and some of the digestive support materials such as brewer’s yeast. Additives are those ingredients classed as additives rather than feed materials in their own right, including the vitamins and minerals seen in many supplements. Under the new law the additive, its ‘e’ number and its inclusion level must all be listed on the label. E numbers can be good! Labels that include a long list of ‘e’ numbers may cause concern, due to the negative press that some of these have received in human nutrition. It’s worth being aware that an ‘e’ number is simply a classification number applied to any additive. So essential vitamins and minerals, such as Vitamin A (E672), Vitamin D3 (E671), Iron (E1), Copper (E4) and Zinc (E6), amongst many 14

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others, will all have their own ‘e’ number. This should reassure the owner that it is an approved ingredient and therefore suitable to feed. Also listed under ‘Additives’ are the digestibility enhancers, which will include the live yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae and the digestive clay, Bentonitemontmorillonite for optimising gut condition. Again the inclusion rate will be listed. You may also find a ‘Sensory’ section which usually relates to ingredients for palatability. Under European law ingredients may be listed individually or in certain pre-specified groups; for example, ‘Products from processing herbs’ may cover a range of herbal ingredients in one heading. A little knowledge of how to read the label can really help you and the horse owner to understand a supplement – what’s in it, how economic it is to feed, what quality assurance it reaches and whether it’s safe. However, if you still have concerns it always pays to call the freephone advice lines that most reputable manufacturers have; these are manned by experts and most consumers greatly appreciate this extra mile to help them.

Probiotics for top performance A probiotic is a useful supplement to the diet of the competition horse as the horse derives benefits in many different ways: it helps replenish friendly bacteria in the hindgut and so promote and maintain condition, optimise stamina and performance, combat the symptoms of stress and support natural immunity. Jonathan Nelson of Protexin explains how this relatively simple additive can have such far-reaching beneficial effects. July 2011

Image courtesy of Protexin

A live yeast can help to counter the negative effects of a high starch diet and the stress associated with competition

The lifestyle of today’s competition horses could not be further from that of their distant relatives who roamed free, browsing and grazing for up to 18 hours a day. Competition horses are frequently stabled and fed a diet high in readily available energy derived from starch-rich cereals. Access to grazing and fibre-rich forage is often restricted to minimise ‘gut fill’ while allowing the equine athlete’s energy requirement to be met within the limits of their diet. This type of dietary regime can have negative consequences on the horse’s health. Starch which escapes digestion in the small intestine and arrives in the horse’s hind gut can lead to a series of physiological events which can disturb normal fermentation and for scientific reasons, may result in the horse’s failure to thrive and, in severe cases, can contribute to the incidence of colic, laminitis or colitis. A live yeast can help to counter the negative effects of a high starch diet and the stress associated with competition. It helps to maintain the hind gut environment by reducing acidity and controlling oxygen levels to ensure that friendly bacteria such as the fibre digesters and lactic acid utilisers can flourish. This in turn helps the horse to use its diet effectively. An efficiently working hindgut also ensures better water reabsorption from the gut, helping to prevent dehydration.

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Dehydration is a significant factor in poor performance, especially where heat and humidity is high, and can also be a major issue during and following travel. Finally, a healthy hindgut also means a healthy immune system as the gut represents the frontline for combating infection, with large numbers of immune fighting cells present. Stress that can compromise the immune system, dehydration and infection, particularly related to the respiratory system, are common in competition horses that travel. Protexin has seen a considerable increase in the demand for its products across all disciplines in recent times as horse owners are becoming more knowledgeable about the importance of a healthy digestive system to the horse’s health and performance. Increasingly top riders such as Piggy French, Jeanette Brakewell, Laura Collett and Louise Bell are including Protexin’s Equine Premium Gut Balancer in their horses’ diets safe in the knowledge that it is not possible to overdose. There are no restrictions placed upon its usage as it contains no prohibited substances as defined by The Jockey Club and the FEI. All equine products produced by Protexin are accredited for FEMAS NOPS. In addition, retailers should note that probiotic products are licensed feed additives within the EU.

July 2011  
July 2011  

July 2011 issue featuring Summer Horse haelth including supplments, grooming, hoof care, etc. Business feature is on building a website