Stephanie George MSc
Many manufacturers offer products that are marketed as being mashes, however there is a little-known fact that any cube product can be turned into a mash! Products that are categorised as being ‘mashes’ will generally have a high pellet content and when water is added to these feeds, these pellets absorb water and ‘swell’ eventually taking on a soft, crumbly texture. Before you get your purse out and rush to the feed store to buy a mash, remember that your horses current diet has the potential to become a home-made mash without you spending extra on his feed bill.
When to feed a mash
Most people probably associate feeding mashes with aged or veteran horses, and whilst this is likely to be the most common use of these types of feeds, there are many reasons to feed a mash.
Veteran Horses / Horses with Poor Teeth
These types of horses are the most obvious when we see a mash based product on the shelf of the feed barn or in the feed room. Mashes are easy to eat and require little to no chewing. Therefore, they are well suited to horses that have poor dentition due to age or other factors. A lot of these types of horses will receive a fibre based mash to help ensure adequate daily fibre intake is achieved as eating long stem forage may no longer be an option.
This may be the least likely group of equines that would spring to mind at the mention of the word mash, however feeding a mash to these horses could be very beneficial in their management and could reduce issues such as tying-up and colic occurring. Mashes are made with water, and for horses that travel often / long distances and those that can be fussy with water when away from home, feeding a mash can help to rehydrate these horses without them needing to drink (N.B it is always recommended to ensure that a bucket of fresh, clean water is available at all times). Regular use of a mash can help to manage horses that may be predisposed or have a greater risk of muscle myopathies or digestive issues by aiding water intake, meaning that electrolytes can be safely administered later in their ‘normal’ feed. The types of horses that really benefit from this change in management are hunters, eventers and any horse working hard or those that don’t drink when away from home.
Horses with Digestive Upset
Horses tend to drink less when it is cold i.e. during the winter months and this can increase the risk of impaction colic occurring. Feeding a mash as part of their normal diet or adding a mash into their daily routine can help to keep horses well hydrated, reducing the risk of impaction colic occurring.
How to make a mash
All of the cube (pencil) products from the Saracen range and also the majority of our mixes (e.g. Re-Leve®, Conditioning Mix & Veteran Mix) have the ability to become a mash when water is added. All you need to do is weigh out your horses normal feed intake i.e. 1kg Super Fibre Cubes, add the same volume of water as feed e.g. ⅔ of a scoop of feed + ⅔ of a scoop of water, wait 10 minutes, stir / add chaff.
Things to remember
As with any dietary change, it is important not to make sudden changes. If you feel as though your horse would benefit from the addition of a mash to their diet, introduce it slowly. It is also important to avoid feeding mashes as a ‘one off’, for example feeding a warm mash on a cold evening. The horse’s digestive system is very sensitive and sudden changes to the feed regime can lead to digestive upset. Whilst you may feel as though you are giving your horse a treat and helping them to stay warm, it is better to feed them their normal ration and give some additional hay, as this produces heat when digested and will help to keep the horse warm from the inside – acting like an internal radiator. Your horse will thank you more for this and will enjoy the extra hay!
All the feeds from the Saracen range are fully fortified, which means that they will provide your horse with a broad spectrum of vitamins and minerals. Please seek advice from a feed advisor if you wish to add a mash into your horse’s current diet or make your current feed into a mash as they will be able to advise on the correct feeding rate for your horse.
IF YOU WOULD LIKE A DIET PLAN FOR YOUR HORSE PLEASE VISIT WWW.SARACENHORSEFEEDS.COM AND COMPLETE OUR SIMPLE AND FREE FEED ADVICE FORM OR CALL OUR FEED ADVICE LINE ON 01622 718 487