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Reduce the Risk of Ulcers and Improve Feed Utilization with iFeed Automatic Feeders and EveryDayBalance

by Dr Clair Thunes PhD Nutrition
Consulting Nutritionist for EnviroEquine & PET
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Most of us keep our horses at facilities which feed forage twice or perhaps 3 times a day. Instinctively we know that horses benefit from having almost continuous access to forage but for many this is just not a reality. Barns may not be willing to fee more hay or use slow feed nets and some horses would gain undesirable weight if feed significantly more forage. Often we are left feeling guilty that while we know we should do better we just can’t.

There is also the issue for hard working horses of being fed large amounts of high calorie performance feeds at amounts that risk feed entering the hindgut. These feeds need to be digested and absorbed in the horse’s small intestine for maximum effect. When large amounts of these feeds are fed at once there is the risk that some will pass out of the small intestine into the hindgut before it can be properly digested. This increases the risk of starch and fat entering the hindgut where it can disrupt microbial fermentation and lead to problems such as gas production, colic, colitis and potentially even laminitis. For many barns it is not possible to feed supplemental feed more than twice a day even when this results in large meal sizes.

This is where iFEED can help.

This ingenious automatic feeding system allows you to program when you would like your horse to receive a meal and then at the time you have programmed it to feed, the amount of feed you set is released in small 2 to 3 oz bite sizes. So for example a one pound meal of hay pellets would be released in approximately 8 small portions dropped every 30 seconds.

This system means that you can provide you horse with feed at intervals during the night or whenever you wish around the clock. You could choose to give extra forage in the form of hay pellets or perhaps you have a performance horse that needs to consume quite a bit of performance feed, you could use iFEED for textured feed too. Given that the horse’s gastrointestinal anatomy and physiology works best with almost constant grazing this system allows you to honor your horse’s needs with relatively little work on your part. And best of all it works.

At this year’s American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) meeting researchers from Colorado State will present data showing how the use of the iFEED system reduced incidents and severity of equine gastric ulcers in young competition horses. Researchers compared traditional meal feeding of 8.8 pounds per day of a performance feed split in to two feedings a day versus feeding the same amount spread out over 20 hours in 20 separate feedings using iFEED. The total feed intake was the same between treatments and the horses also received 2 percent of their body weight per day as grass hay.

At the beginning of the study there were no differences in gastric ulcer grade between the horses. Horses were then assigned to one of two groups, those that were fed traditionally and those fed using iFEED. After 30 days the ulcer grade had significantly increased for the traditionally fed horses and remained high at day 60. However, the horses fed using iFEED showed no significant difference in gastric ulcer grade when compared to day zero.

Using iFEED to allow your horse to eat as intended may have significant health benefits.

Not only can you feed pelleted and textured feeds using iFEED but supplements can also be placed in the feed hopper to be distributed along with the feed. A supplement like EnviroEquine Everyday Balance mixes well and is a great all around mineral and vitamin supplement which will help insure that your horse’s nutritional needs are being met. Additionally this supplement contains live yeast and other prebiotics to further support your horse’s delicate gastrointestinal tract.

In the long run, using iFEED and EveryDay Balance are expected to save you money by improving feed utilization and gastrointestinal health. Two things you can feel good about!

Consulting Nutritionist for EnviroEquine Dr. Clair Thunes is passionate about her profession—one that she decided upon at the age of 14. After earning a Bachelor of Science with Honors from Edinburgh University, and a Master of Science in Animal Science and a PhD in Nutrition from the University of California, Davis, Dr. Thunes went on to found Summit Equine Nutrition LLC an independent consulting company in 2007. An experienced nutritionist and accomplished scientist, Dr. Thunes understands the vital role that nutrition plays in managing horses today. Most importantly, she believes in making nutrition accessible to everyone and removes the guesswork so that owners have the peace of mind that their horse’s diets are optimal for maximum health and peak performance.  Her clients include all horses from competitors at the 2016 Rio Olympics to retired pasture friends, mules and miniature donkeys. She writes a weekly online commentary for and her nutrition articles have been published in noted publications including: The Horse, Equine Wellness, Trail Blazer, Horse & Rider and The Horse Report. Besides consulting she teaches equine nutrition and equine exercise physiology in the Animal Science Department at UC Davis and equine health at Cosumnes River College.  Clair continues to be involved with The United States Pony Clubs, Inc. and she is currently the Regional Supervisor for the Sierra Pacific Region.