Who can benefit from feetfirstTM hay
It is suitable for all horses and ponies including those needing a low sugar and starch diet for the management of laminitis, Insulin Resistance, Equine Metabolic Syndrome, Polysaccharide Storage Myopathy, hindgut ulcers, barefoot, good doers and native ponies, or a high forage diet for gastric ulcers or box rest.
According to independent nutrition experts, insulin resistance and laminitis are best controlled when the combined sugar (ESC) and starch levels in hay are below 10%**. This is the upper limit we set for feetfirstTM hay.
What is different about feetfirstTM hay
The grasses we use to produce feetfirstTM hay have been scientifically selected to produce consistent quality palatable horse hay containing low levels of sugar and starch. Our unique grass mixture is based on Timothy and traditional pasture grasses. It does not contain ryegrass.
All feetfirstTM hay is made from the same grass mixture so the composition of each batch is as consistent as possible.
Nutritional and Mineral Analysis
We comprehensively test every batch of hay so we know the level of sugar, starch and protein as well as the Water Soluble Carbohydrates.
We also do a mineral analysis of each batch which is essential for customers who require bespoke supplementation.
Copies of both analyses are available to all our customers.
Why sugar and starch content is so important
Many equines are sensitive to sugars and starch to some degree, possibly due to the resultant rise in insulin levels. This can manifest in various ways such as slightly ‘footy’ through to clinical laminitis or Equine Metabolic Syndrome.
Most hay is not analysed so it is impossible to know if the hay is suitable for insulin resistant or laminitis prone horses* or those requiring a low sugar / high fibre diet.
Every batch of feetfirstTM hay has undergone the most rigorous tests available and meets our standard of less than 10% combined sugar (ESC) and starch.
Why Water Soluble Carbohydrates are important
Most Water Soluble Carbohydrate (WSC) is digested in the hindgut where the fermentation process slowly releases their breakdown products (sugars) into the bloodstream. This slow release does not cause a surge in blood glucose so insulin levels respond more slowly. They do however still contribute to the energy content of the diet and this is reflected in the Digestible Energy (DE) value.
If your horse or pony is a good doer, then soaking feetfirstTM hay will remove some of the Water Soluble Carbohydrates and reduce the energy content of the diet. By varying the soaking times, you can adjust the energy content according to work load, grass availability and quality. Soaking for shorter periods or feeding dry will provide more energy whereas soaking for up to 12 hours will reduce the energy content as much as possible.
Protein levels are important too.
Many equine diets, even forage based ones, have far higher protein contents than needed. Only really hard working animals need the high protein levels found in many other hays, haylage and bagged concentrate feeds. Excess protein has to be excreted via the kidneys, placing them under unnecessary stress.
The protein levels in feetfirstTM hay are much better matched to most equine needs. For hard working horses and ponies, additional feed in the form of oats and sugar beet pulp can be given to boost energy and protein levels if needed.