Why do I need an Equine Nutritionist?

As an Equine Nutritionist I have spent hours upon hours studying the difference between oats and corn as an energy source, the difference between soy and lupins as a protein source and have an in-depth understanding of what minerals and vitamins the horse needs (and how much). I can explain to you exactly why your horse needs so much roughage (trust me, it does) and if you're having issues with your horse's weight, its coat isn't shiny, or it doesn't have enough energy I can also help with this.

 

I understand and have treated common health issues such as tying up and Cushing's and can let you know exactly what your foal, yearling or weanling needs to ensure proper growth and development.

 

In addition to improving your horse's health from the inside out, chances are I can also save you quite a bit of money. Most of my clients report that their feed bill reduced considerably after my feed recommendations - this is often due to my preference to use wholefoods over processed, pelleted options. Of course, if you'd rather continue to use your favourite brand of complete feed, that's totally fine, I can still work with you to ensure your horse is getting everything it needs, no more, no less.  

Why do faecal egg counts?

In recent years, frequent administration of worming products (anthelmintics) has been the way we all manage parasites in our horses. While this has reduced the number of parasites (nematodes), they’re cunning little buggers who will stop at nothing to procreate. Over time, frequent exposure to anthelmintics has allowed nematodes to build up resistance in horses, exactly the same as how humans have built up resistance to antibiotics.

 

This all means that our worming products have become less and less effective, we have to worm more and more, and our horses build up more and more resistance. I think you can see where this is going! And why would you want to put poisonous stuff in your horse if it doesn't have parasites anyway?

 

What’s also interesting is that recent research has shown that a relatively small number of horses (between 15% and 20%) are responsible for carrying 80% of all the worms! This is more commonly known as the 80:20 rule. This means that some horses DO need to be wormed really regularly (20% of them) while the other 80% don't. Wouldn't you like to know whether your horse belongs in the 20% or the 80% and if you REALLY need to worm him?

 

While our horses can’t tell us how many parasites they have using words, they can via the other more unsavoury end - and that’s where me, a bucketload of rubber gloves, and a microscope come in! Contact me now to arrange it!

Is it true that you can save me money?

You bet! And if you're feeding a lot of pelleted feeds then it's likely that my recommendations will pay for themselves sooner than your horse gets through its next hay bale! A lot of my clients tell me that not only is their horse now in better condition, but that they're saving quite a bit of money! And given we all know how bloody expensive horses are this can only be a good thing!

Is it true that you don't like processed/pre-packaged/pelleted feeds.

Yes and no. Processed feeds have a time and a place and if you're attached to something I'm happy to work with you of course. Elderly or unwell horses can benefit from pre-packaged feeds in many circumstances. My philosophy however, is that if there is a more natural way to do it, then why not do it that way? We know that packaged and processed foods aren't the best things we could be eating so we should also use this philosophy for our horses (and they aren't usually as fussy as we are either!). Not all processed food is bad, but I worry when the ingredients on the back of the bag are vague. Plus there's no guarantee of the integrity of the ingredients and if you're not feeding the recommended amounts then your horse is probably lacking in some essential vitamins and minerals.

 

Feeding more naturally is also likely to save you a significant amount of money. Sometimes clients tell me that I've cut their feed bill in half or even a third!

I have feed XL, why do I need you?

Good question. FeedXL is a great tool, but unless you've studied in detail what the difference between corn and oats is and more importantly, where and how they are digested in the intestinal tract, how do you know which one to feed if they both have similar results in FeedXL? Do you know the exact physiological reasons that horses need so much roughage and insoluble fibre, and what might happen if they don't get enough? And why is it a good idea to feed lucerne hay prior to work? And in what circumstances should you not do this? It's okay to not know all these answers, that's what I'm for!  

Why do I need to do a pasture/hay analysis?

If we're lucky we get to feed our horses once or twice a day. The rest of the day they spend eating whatever is in the paddock. This is the majority of their diet usually. Do you really know what they're eating? What minerals are in the soil? What plants make up the paddocks? A pasture analysis (or hay analysis if the horse isn't on pasture) combines high tech near infrared and plasma spectroscopy for a complete nutritional profile. Please note that this test is performed offsite. The test includes:

 

  • moisture

  • dry matter

  • digestible energy

  • crude protein

  • estimated lysine

  • acid detergent fibre

  • neutral detergent fibre

  • lignin

  • Ethanol Soluble Carbohydrates (ESC)

  • Water Soluble Carbohydrates (WSC)

  • starch

  • non fibre carbohydrates (NFC)

  • fat

  • ash

  • calcium

  • phosphorus

  • magnesium

  • potassium

  • sodium

  • iron

  • zinc

  • copper

  • manganese

  • molybdenum

What's an eleven point health check?

1. Heart rate

2. Mucous membrane status

3. Respiratory rate

4. Body condition (using Henneke's scale out of 9)

5. Hoof condition

6. Excrement check (if possible)

7. Level of alertness/attitude

8. Coat/skin condition

9. Fluid status (hydration)

10. Eyes

11. Temperature 

*Please note I am not a vet and cannot do what a vet does. This is a simple way of seeing if your horse's vitals appear as they should.

How often do I need to get a faecal egg count done?

I recommend getting one done every 6-8 weeks. If you want to test for resistance I need to do the test two weeks after you last wormed. 

How do I post you a sample?

You'll need two ziplock bags, a a pair of gloves and a pen. If you collect the sample on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday, it's best to put it in the fridge until you can post on a Monday. To see exactly how to do it watch my one minute YouTube instuctions clip.

1. Get the freshest sample of faeces you can. You need to collect about one 'ball' worth. It should be bigger than a golf ball, but smaller than a tennis ball. Do not take any from where it is touching the ground, this can contaminate it. The bit on top or in the middle of the pile is ideal.

2. Using your glove put the sample in the first bag and then squeeze out as much air as possible from the bag. Put this bag inside the second bag.

3. Write yours and your horse's name, your contact details and the date you collected the sample on the second bag.

4. Fill out the online FEC form. This is important because it helps me to give you better recommendations.

5. Zip it up and post it to P.O. Box 5, Moonee Vale. 3055. Express Post will ensure it arrives more quickly, but if it's winter or we're having a cold snap, don't worry too much about it.

6. Email, phone or message me to let me know when it's going to arrive.

 

When you say you'll come to me to collect poo, what exactly do you mean?

If your horse is stabled or in private paddock just tell me where I need to go and I'll do the rest. If your horse is in a shared paddock please catch him for me and leave him tied up or in a yard, or point me in the direction of a 'fresh sample'. Please don't clean up after your horse until I have taken what I need.

You can tell me how many parasites my horse has, but can you also tell if my horse is resistant to deworming products?

I certainly can! Contact me to find out more.

You've asked me to weigh my feed - Why? And how do I do this?

Weighing feed is imperative, scoops not only come in different sizes, but the mass of feed is likely to change seasonally from different suppliers etc. Plus we all know that we've had bales of hay we can hardly lift and others that are light and crumble as soon as we take the twine off. You need to weigh your feed however you can, you can use kitchen scales and break it up into smaller portions if you need to. If this is all a bit too difficult I can weigh everything when I visit and send you the report and recommendations afterwards. 

What are your qualifications?

I am a qualified Equine Nutritionist. I undertook subjects about equine health, anatomy and physiology and of course, nutrition. I read a lot of research articles, wrote lots of essays and sat some bloody hard exams! That's not where it ends though! I am constantly reading veterinary journal articles to learn more. I can't get enough of it. At the moment I'm particularly fascinated by the levels of omega 3, 6 and 9 in different kinds of oil to add weight in horses.

 

I have also spent time in a parasitology laboratory learning exactly how to do faecal egg counting and identifying different types of parasites. I work in my own, private laboratory with modern equipment. I get through a lot of rubber gloves... Each test is quality controlled using replicate and duplicate methodologies and I regularly compare results with other laboratories to ensure the highest possible standards of accuracy. 

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