Horse Health

Finally a Hay Feeder that Fits Your Busy Schedule and Your Horse's Digestive Needs

Take a minute to look at your horse's world through his eyes. He has evolved from the beginning of his time to be on the move, twenty-four hours a day if necessary to survive.  He is agile and fleet of foot to evade the always present predators looking for him to be their next meal.  He travels light, having a small stomach (about 4 gallons) carrying little food, constantly eating and moving.  This is the mind and body of the pet in your paddock.  Compare his natural feeding routine to the one you have provided him and you will see why he is not as healthy and contented as he can be. 

It is natural for a horse to travel and search for his food constantly.  Everywhere he looks there is food.  He stands in it, walks in it and lies on it.  This is his world - he is a hind-gut fermenting grazer - meaning he searches, pulls, tears, chews and swallows in a continuous manner whenever he is hungry, eating only enough to be satisfied and never to be full.  Unlike humans that produce stomach acid when they eat, horses secrete a constant ongoing supply of stomach acid (60 litres per day) to digest the constant supply of forage they require to survive.  Horses also do not have a gall bladder like humans to infuse large quantities of bile into their small intestine as they eat a meal.  A horse's liver supplies a constant supply of bile (10 litres per day) to the small intestine whether they are eating or not.

When grazing, horses search and tear each bite to a size that can be chewed thoroughly.  Well-chewed forage mixed with saliva is the beginning of the digestive process.  Saliva production (38 litres per day) is dependent on the movement of the jaw muscles.  This alkaline mixture of saliva and forage buffers the stomach acid as it is being digested.  He relies on pH balance in the stomach to indicate when he has eaten enough.  Remember, horses do not eat to be full but only enough not to be hungry, thus the term trickle feeder.

The Porta-Grazer™ is designed to allow the horse to graze hay in a naturally slow continuous manner in the correct posture.  Restrictive hay feeders and nets are designed to slow the horse down by force.  Being restricted and forced heightens anxiety and can result in gastric ulcers and an unhappy unhealthy lifestyle. Horses are the only ones who know fast or slow they should eat and each one has its individual needs. Porta-Grazer’s patented design offers hay to the horse in such a manner that each bite is pulled and torn to size resulting in slowed rate of consumption.  Searching-pulling-tearing while chewing and swallowing that’s natural and that’s Porta-Grazer™.

 

Unrestricted hay feeding vs. PORTA-GRAZERô hay feeding

Reference:  The pH scale runs from 0.0 to 14.0 with 7.0 being neutral.  Readings less than 7.0 indicate acidic solutions, while higher readings indicate alkaline or base solutions.

1) Laminitis:
When a horse is fed hay unrestricted he will pick through it searching out the raw fructose (sugar) and eating it first.  This will raise the sugar levels in the blood and may result in or aggravate insulin resistance (IR) issues such as laminitis.  High amounts of sugar in the blood can also result in hypertensive behaviour.
Porta-Grazer™:  Allows feeding at a natural pace while not allowing the feed to be picked through. This keeps the sugar intake at a constant safe natural level and in most cases eliminating the need to soak out the sugar.  Similar to human type II sugar diabetes, you can safely eat sugar, but a bite an hour not a candy bar an hour.

2) COPD:
While searching through the hay horses may inhale dangerous amounts of dust, pollens and mould which can lead to an allergic reaction and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).
Porta-Grazer™:   Hay is pulled directly into the mouth through the holes and torn off.  The dust, sand, pollens and mould are shaken loose and work their way to the bottom of the barrel.  There, it is collected in a trough, out of the horse’s reach, to be discarded later.

3) TMJ:
Not being able to tear his bites when eating unrestricted hay the horse is forced to eat with his lips, not incisors, causing uneven wear to all dental surfaces, thus impairing the function of the TMJ (temporomandibular joint mechanism) which is vital to the horse's health.  Eating from elevated hay racks and nets can also cause TMD (temporomandibar dysfunction).
Porta-Grazer™:   Each bite is torn off using the incisors in a head-down natural posture.  During grazing the mandible is allowed to slide down and forward relaxing the TMJ muscles and allows for proper teeth contact.

4) Choke:
Hay is pressed into clumps when it is processed, forcing the horse to take unnaturally large bites.  These large mouthfuls cannot be sufficiently chewed and adequately lubricated to be easily swallowed.
Porta-Grazer™:   The horse tears off each bite, sizing it to his particular needs.  He is then able to chew and thoroughly lubricate each bite before swallowing.

5) Impaction Colic:
A horse's food must be moist when leaving the stomach in order to flow smoothly and allow the nutrients to be absorbed by the digestive system.  This moisture is obtained from the saliva created while chewing. Large, unregulated bites with low moisture content will lead to intestinal impaction stopping the digestive process.
Porta-Grazer™:   Each bite is sized and torn off according to his particular needs.  The horse then chews thoroughly , mixing saliva with each bite, adding the needed moisture to his digestive system (up to 38 litres of saliva per day).  In a natural environment horses will water once or twice daily to replenish bodily fluids.

6) Bad stall habits (misleadingly referred to as "boredom"):
When the stomach is empty (this can be as soon as 20 minutes after finishing his meal) the hydrochloric digestive acid is still being produced.  Acid alone in the stomach without the alkalinity of food and saliva to buffer it causes discomfort.  With no food available the horse will do unnatural behaviours to create saliva to buffer the acid in an effort to soothe the pain.  Behaviours may include wind-sucking, eating manure, destructive chewing, licking or constantly grazing the bare ground for anything that may be eaten.  Many behaviours such as pawing, kicking walls, banging the feeder etc are to get your attention to bring food, which relieves the pain.  Horses will bolt their feed when overly hungry, eating quickly in an attempt to soothe the pain of an overly acidic stomach.
Porta-Grazer™:   Each bite is sized and thoroughly chewed, saturating the forage with saliva and neutralising the excess acid.  Large bites of hay with small amounts of saliva will not bring the acid into pH balance and the horse will continue to eat until out of food.  Small sized bites, well saturated with saliva, quickly bring the acid into pH balance.  When in balance, the horse will usually not continue to feed unless the hay has high sugar content.

7) Sand Colic:
When hay is processed it must be moist in order to compact correctly.  This process creates dust which adheres to the hay and is compressed into the bale.  When the hay is eaten in large compressed bites or fed on the ground, dust and sand particles are ingested.  These particles settle in the digestive tract, causing a blockage that is usually fatal if not immediately treated.  Colic is the largest cause of premature death in equines.
Porta-Grazer™:   Hay is pulled through the holes and torn off.  The dust, sand and dirt are shaken loose and work their way to the bottom of the barrel.  There, it is collected in a trough,out of the horse’s reach, to be discarded later.  Little to no feed is dropped to the ground to be contaminated with foreign materials and ingested.  Horses do not eat naturally off of the ground - they eat the tops of plants that grow from the ground.

8)Conformation:
When the horse eats with his head in an upright position it hollows the back, transferring the body weight to the hind quarters.  This will result in the hind legs being placed further back than normal and stress being applied to the back and hocks.
Porta-Grazer™:   Promotes a natural head-down grazing position.  This stance pulls the topline into alignment and the hind legs into the correct weight-bearing position, relieving neck, back and hock stress.  Small, continuous meals will also reduce a bulging "hay" belly.

9) Dunking:
When a horse eats loose hay in large, unregulated bites there is not enough saliva to lubricate the forage making it difficult to swallow.  The added moisture from dunking allows the feed to be swallowed more easly and will also offset the lack of saliva, aiding the digestive process and possibly preventing impaction colic.
Porta-Grazer™:   Allows only small bites to be torn off that can be thoroughly chewed and well lubricated with saliva which can then be easily swallowed, eliminating the need to add more moisture.

10) Herd feeding:
Horses must be fed a basic grass diet and be able to chew and thoroughly salivate their food in order to control their weight.  When horses are fed together they will establish a pecking order with the higher ranking members eating the sugar and leaving the less nutritious food for the others.  The result of this behaviour will be a variation of body scores and healthiness among the group.
Porta-Grazer™:  Not allowing one horse to eat another's food or a large portion of the sugar assures that each will receive equal value from the feed as well as an ample supply.  Secure the Porta-Grazers at least ten feet apart, allowing each horse their own space.  If the dominant horse moves to an occupied Porta-Grazer the displaced horse calmly goes to the unoccupied Porta-Grazer (nothing gained nothing lost).  Removing the competition for food will result in a calm peaceful herd with no wasted hay.

11) Pellets:
Large mouthfuls of poorly chewed pellets lacking enough saliva can result in choking or impaction colic.
Porta-Grazer™:  Only a few pellets can be eaten at one time.  Forage pellets consisting of grass hay only can be fed free choice.  The horse will self-regulate, eating only what he requires.  Excellent for horses who cannot eat hay.

12) Waste:
Horses pick through, walk on, poop on and pee on the hay in order to search out the sugar. This behaviour results in large amounts of the good valuable hay being wasted.  Some may become so obsessed with the sugar that they will not eat the left over hay, waiting for more to pick through.
Porta-Grazer™:  Our unique patented design does not allow hay to be picked through or spread to the ground and wasted.

13) Weight control:  
When a hungry horse is provided unrestricted access to hay he will overeat.  pH balance in the stomach is what stops the eating process - not a full stomach.  When consumption is reduced to lower his weight the body will adjust by conserving calories to maintain the excess weight.  Also, the lack of forage will cause problems within the digestive tract - resulting in an unhappy, lethargic, overweight horse referred to as an ‘good doer’.  If you must cut back, cut back the calories not the volume.
Porta-Grazer™:  By allowing the horse to control the size of his bites, ample saliva is mixed with the forage as it is taken in.  When thoroughly salivated forage enters the stomach it begins to buffer the painful stomach acid, balancing the pH and creating comfort.  When the pH is in balance he will quit eating until the acid builds up then he will eat again to bring it back to balance.  That is the grazing routine you see when horses graze mature pasture.  Feeds that are high in sugar (grains for example) interfere with the pH balancing process.  Also, feeds with high sugar content will be over-eaten just for the taste.

14) Ulcers:
There are lots of kinds of ulcers and many causes for ulcers.  Most common are gastric ulcers. One of the main causes of gastric ulcers is the hydrochloric acid build up in a horse's empty stomach.  The horse produces digestive acid (60 litres per day) in a never-ending flow. This is to match the seemingly continuous flow of forage the horse is designed to take in. This constant intake of forage and saliva has a buffering effect on the stomach acid, bringing the pH to balance.  When the pH is in balance the burning effect of the acid is neutralized.  When the acid level rises to an uncomfortable level the horse chews it back to balance.  The bottom of the stomach is thick and glandular while the top is a sensitive thin membrane.  Acid in an empty stomach can burn a hole in the upper stomach in as little as 15 minutes while exercising.  Autopsies of horses that die from colic most always reveal an ulcer or history of ulcers.
Porta-Grazer™:   Promotes digestive health by allowing the horse to consume processed forage in a natural manner, meaning that forage is always available and consumed with each bite being sized and salivated sufficiently to neutralize stomach acid in a timely manner.  Also, having the ability to graze when necessary relieves stress that can also cause gastric ulcers.

15) Parasites:
When feed is dropped and/or eaten from the ground where animals are kept there is a high likelihood that parasites will be ingested in higher than normal quantities.  This will have an adverse effect on your horse’s health as will the chemicals used to combat an infestation.
Porta-Grazer™:  Allows the forage to be taken directly into the horse's mouth in small bites, preventing feed from being picked through and dropped to the ground.  By not exposing your horse to the parasitic environment, fewer chemicals will be needed to control infestation.

MAIN CAUSES FOR VETERINARY CARE
1) The way you feed your horse
2) Reproduction
3) Injury