Healthy food for itch-sensitive horses
The Natural Way - specialized in itching and skin complaints and the natural treatment of horses with sweet itch, mud fever and CPL.
Healthy food, adapted to the needs of your horse, prevents and remedies many complaints. A disturbed intestinal balance is one of the biggest causes of itching in horses. This not only affects resistance, but also the overall health of your horse. So be sure to take your time for a thorough analysis.
The primal (food) needs are woven into the DNA of your horse and you start from a different starting point for each horse. Every horse is different, has a different background, in terms of breed, birth, nutrition and medically. The stable policy of "the same feed for every horse" therefore causes many problems.
We also regularly receive an email stating that someone's horse 'suddenly' suffers from itching, but has been fed the same feed for years, so that wouldn't be the cause. Rest assured that there is more than enough profit to be made here too by adjusting the feeding policy.
This blog is limited in content, but we wrote a complete E-book (66 pages) about healthy food for itch-sensitive horses: OERFOOD.
© The Natural Way
- Healthy feeding
- Concentrates/supplementary feed/balancer
- Fruits and vegetables
- Final word
We already said it: one of the biggest causes of itching is incorrect (unhealthy) nutrition or nutrition that is not adapted to the individual needs of your horse, resulting in a disturbed intestinal balance .
Horses that are fed inappropriately often only suffer from itching in the summer season when the body has problems processing waste products . Well-intentioned, we try to give our horses as tasty-looking food as possible, but unfortunately the labels of these packages often do not reveal much good: too much sugar, starch, proteins, grains, alfalfa,... And what follows? Itch!
Healthy feeding is therefore the start of good health and helps your horse to remain, become or keep complaints under control. Healthy feeding is tailor-made, depending on the individual needs of your horse, and is therefore not the same for every horse.
We can mention here some 'basic rules' for healthy intestinal flora:
Choose high-quality dry hay tied in strings, no haylage or silage. Simply put: don't feed hay that has plastic around it. Not even if your horse suffers from respiratory problems, for example, because this will encourage other complaints that you absolutely want to avoid (just think of laminitis and itching!).
You can offer hay in different portions and in different places, so that exercise is stimulated and your horse or pony does not become too fat. Because a healthy weight is also extremely important. Get inspiration from Paddock Paradise systems.
Also vary with branches from fruit trees, willow, hazel, poplar, ash, birch and alder. Variety is key!
Our little Ika, feasting on Willow branches © The Natural Way
Concentrates / supplementary feed / balancers
A good basis consists of high-quality hay and (possibly limited) grass as roughage. To meet the daily vitamin and mineral requirements (mainly in the winter months), you can offer healthy supplementary food.
Find out what your horse responds well to by experimenting (tip: ask the feed manufacturer for samples or exchange with friends and stable mates), have the feed measured or be assisted by a nutritional advisor.
To clarify: in addition to grains, standard concentrates also contain an average of 20-30% sugar + starch content together, so you understand why this is not recommended.
Blood tests can provide insight into your horse's values and the possible need for support with a balancer, vitamins, minerals, etc.
Balancer with dried herbs © The Natural Way
Support intestinal flora, resistance and the lymphatic system with herbs, preferably fresh, such as narrow and large plantain, nettle, yarrow, thistles, burdock, marigold, chamomile, chickweed and dandelion.
In this article I will discuss all the above-mentioned herbs for horses in more detail.
Herbs for Horses © The Natural Way
Be especially careful with young spring grass. In Belgium and the Netherlands, horses are often kept on pastures that are grazed too briefly, and do not get enough time to rest and recuperate. This grass therefore contains too high concentrations of sugars and proteins, but a shortage of mineral trace elements and metals.
Itch-sensitive horses can thrive on grass, but grazing must be individualized. One horse will be able to walk in the herd 24/7, while other horses can only be on the grass for a few hours or not at all.
Monotonous grasslands are a thing of the past, choose diverse and herb-rich meadows that are naturally maintained.
Fruits and vegetables
For horses with sweet itch or metabolic problems, it is also recommended to always feed in moderation and therefore not too large portions.
Vegetables : Carrot, beetroot, kohlrabi, artichoke, turnip, chicory, fennel, celery, parsnip, cucumber, broccoli, lettuce,...
Are you not sure whether your horse has sweet itch or another itchy condition? In this article I made a clear overview.
© Laura Cleirens - 2020.10.25