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  • January 12, 2023 4 min read

    Chaff replacers and substitute fibre products have become abundant in recent years. For horses that are on weight management, have specific health concerns, or simply do not like chaff (yes, I have one of those!), these products offer a high-fibre alternative to keeping digestive systems happy and healthy. In this article, we will be exploring some chaff replacers and alternate fibre products that you can feed your horse instead of traditional chaff. 

    Last week, we discussed the importance of chaff in a horse's diet. Chaff is an excellent source of fibre, aims to slow down the consumption of concentrates, and increases salivation, helping to maintain a healthy digestive system. A chaff replacer and substitute will therefore need to act similarly to traditional chaff, as many people will feed these along with concentrates and a vitamin and mineral supplement. Outlined below, we have listed some chaff replacement products and substitutes, along with their benefits, that you can use if you cannot or choose not to use traditional chaff. 

    Roughage Cubes 

    As the name suggests, roughage cubes are a pelleted form of roughage, usually a mix of straw and some cereal grains. These cubes contain a good source of fibre, and are also designed to provide a source of protein and energy. The cubes can generally be soaked, so for horses that have difficulty chewing hay or for aged horses, these cubes make an excellent alternative. Roughage cubes can also be fed to horses needing to gain weight, alongside their typical forage requirements, and are also ideal as a supplement to forage, where hay is expensive or scarce. 

    Roughage cubes are not a complete feed and must be fed as part of a balanced diet. 

    If you are interested in feeding roughage cubes, some products available on the market include; Milne Easyway Hay and Chaff replacer and Prydes EasiFibre. 

    Beet Pulp 

    Beet pulp is a by-product of the sugar industry and is often classed as a super fibre. This is because beet pulp is high in digestible fibre, even more so than chaff! Beet pulp is a low sugar and low starch feed and is excellent for horses needing to gain weight, for those that have dental issues or need their feed to be soaked. Beet pulp must be soaked before feeding. It can be fed as a chaff replacer or replace part of the chaff in the horse's hard feed. The biggest downside to beet pulp is the price. It is an imported product, so this has a significant impact on the price and also, sometimes, the availability. 

    If you would like to give beet pulp a go, the two products available on the Australian market are Hygain Micrbeet and Speedibeet. 

    Lupin Hulls 

    Lupin hulls are again classed as another super fibre. Lupin hulls are the outer husk of the lupin and are low in sugar and starch and high in digestible fibre. Similarly to beet pulp, they can be fed in small amounts to assist with the consumption of vitamins and minerals. Lupin hulls should be soaked before feeding, and so are great for horses with dental issues that need to eat a mash. They can also be fed to horses needing to gain weight or to those that are a little on the heavier side (just feed less!). 

    Thompson and Redwood are the makers of Lupin Fibre Cubes if you want to add lupin hulls to your horse's diet.

    Soybean Hulls 

    Soybean Hulls are also considered to be another super fibre. A grain-free, low starch, low sugar, and highly digestible fibre, soybean hulls could be an excellent addition to your horse's feed. Soybean hulls can be fed wet or dry, so they are suitable for horses that need a mash type of feed. They are also great for weight gain but can be fed for weight loss when fed in small amounts. Soybean hulls will also need to be fed as part of a balanced diet, as it is not a complete feed. 

    If you would like to include soybean hulls in your horse's diet, then Maxisoy is a good product to start with. 

    Oaten Hulls 

    Oaten hulls are high in crude fibre, which is an indigestible fibre. Due to the high crude fibre content, they can be good to use as a roughage extender. Oaten Hulls can be mixed with other super fibres (beet pulp, lupin, and soybean hulls) or it can be fed as part of the horse's normal diet. Once again, oaten hulls will need to be fed as part of a balanced diet.

    Morton's Golden Fibre is a oaten hull based product, sprayed with oil to keep the dust content down (as oat hulls can naturally be dusty!). 

    Super Fibre Chaff Replacer 

    If you have looking for a product that combines the above mentioned super fibres of beet pulp, lupin hulls and soya hulls, then Hygain Fibreessentials may be something to consider. It is a low starch, low sugar and high fibre product that can be fed wet or dry. So, again it is suitable for horses that have dental issues and also great for those that need to gain some weight. This product can be fed in full replacement of chaff as well, but it isn't a complete feed so it will need to be fed as part of a balanced diet. 

    If you are looking for a chaff replacement, alternative or extender, then the above mentioned products are a good place to start. If you choose not to feed chaff alongside these products, you may find your horse will consume their feed in a block of an eye. Hence, and particularly if you are feeding concentrates, you may want to break up the hard feed into multiple meals per day. 

    Further, the faster a horse consumes their hard feed, the less time they are chewing, which affects saliva production and can have adverse effects to their digestive system. So, it is really important that you meet your horse's forge requirements per day, which is between 1.5% to 2% of their body weight per day (hay and pasture). 

    As always, we are here to help! If you need any advice on which product to select, please visit us in store or online! 

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