Choose Chaff Horse Feed for Optimal Health
Chaff horse feed is essentially dried forage which has been cut into small bits (unlike the long grass stems found in hay and haylage). It is fed to horses in order to give bulk to their concentrate feed and to prevent them from eating too fast. Traditionally, a blend of molasses was added to chaff to improve the taste. However, these days you can now get many different variations. Different flavours can be added, such as herbs, mint, garlic, cherry and apple to make the feed more palatable.
A useful addition to your horse's diet
Some people think that chaff horse feed is just cheap filler that's used to bulk up concentrate feed and so it doesn't really matter what the feed is made from. However, in actual fact, it's a very useful addition to a horse's diet. Not only does chaff provide forage, it also encourages chewing. This is important because horses only produce saliva when chewing (unlike us humans).
Chewing stimulates the production of saliva. This plays an important role in protecting the upper stomach from the acid in the lower stomach, helping to maintain optimal gastric health. Good saliva production can lessen the chances of your horse developing gastric ulcers ("Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome" (EGUS)), which can be a serious health problem for adult horses as well as foals. High fibre feed such as chaff in a horse's stomach can aid in the neutralising of stomach acid. So, yes, chaff is a very useful addition to the diet and doesn't just exist to give bulk to feed.
Chaff should meet the needs of your horse's respiratory system, as well as his digestive tract. It should be good quality nutritionally, but it must also be clean. This means it should be free from moulds and fungi which could compromise your horse's respiratory function. The negative effects of feeding a horse poor quality chaff simply can't be understated.
Choosing a chaff horse feed product
Your choice of chaff product will largely depend on your horse's bodyweight, as well as his work level. Whichever chaff you choose, it must be made from good quality ingredients and come from a reputable supplier. Take a look at our selection of chaff and forage available online. It should also smell fresh and should not contain lots of dust or chunks of molasses. After seeking recommendations from fellow horse owners, I chose Marksway Herbal Chaff for my horse Henry. It's a high-quality chaff and is made from the very best oat straw as well as featuring a variety of herbs which are found in a horse's natural environment. The chaff contains a balanced mixture of garlic, rosemary, mint and golden rod, along with a light dressing of molasses.
There are plenty of nutrients contained in molasses, such as potassium, calcium, iron, salt and B vitamins, so it's actually useful in moderation as long as a horse's ability to digest sugar in its small intestine is not overwhelmed. Henry seems to really like this particular chaff so I don't think I'll be changing to another any time soon.