Will Digestive VM be right for my horse?
By Dr Nikita Stowers - MSc (Nutrition) BSc (Animal Science) BBS, Equine Nutritionist at Veterinary and Nutritional Integration LTD
As a horse owner, when looking at the huge array of supplements available it can be overwhelming and difficult to know which supplement is right for your horse and your situation. As an Equine Nutritionist I routinely sample and analyse pasture and hay for my clients all over New Zealand and as a result am well equipped to see how any new vitamin and mineral supplement will meet the needs of our horses in New Zealand. In fact I have an excellent database of hundreds of different New Zealand hays and pasture taken during Summer, Autumn, Spring and Winter over a number of years so that I can recommend the best supplements for your specific situation. But what if there was one supplement that could cover all of your horses nutrient requirements? Sounds too good to be true right? So I set out to see if Digestive VM was up to the task of meeting the requirements of horses all over New Zealand.
I did this by looking at our extensive pasture and hay database and using this as a horses base diet we wanted to see if Digestive VM could meet all nutrient requirements. Now keep in mind that is quite rare for a horse to only receive pasture or even pasture and hay without any hard feed supplementation but we always start at the base of the diet to see what our horses actually need and build a diet from the ground up, so to speak. This means we give our horses exactly what they need whilst hopefully reducing our feed and supplementation bill in the process.
What we found was quite astonishing. Digestive VM could meet almost all nutrient requirements of horses when fed at the recommended rates, despite what the base diet was.
We looked at several different pastures and hays from the North and South Island of New Zealand and found that every time Digestive VM met almost all if not all of the 22 nutrient requirements we looked at, with the only exception being Salt which most horses need additional to any supplementation programme, depending on their workload. Depending on your horses workload and goals for your horse they may need additional calories and fibre in their diet, however it’s nice to know that your vitamin and mineral requirements can be met with one supplement, without the need to feed premixed feeds if you don’t need them. Good doers are a great example of where we don’t need to add extra calories to their diet but they are likely to have deficiencies in trace minerals like Copper, Zinc, Iodine and Selenium.
Although New Zealand pastures meet the bulk of our horses nutrient requirements, there are some important exceptions including minerals such as Calcium, Phosphorous and Magnesium and trace minerals such as Copper, Zinc, Selenium and Iodine. Deficiencies in any of these can have negative effects on your horse and so it is important that we add these to our horses diets. Before starting any new supplementation programme we recommend getting your horses blood selenium level checked. Selenium deficiency and toxicity are commonplace in New Zealand and due to the toxic nature of selenium, it is important to know that you aren’t giving too much before you start feeding any new feed or supplement that contains selenium.
Another inclusion in Digestive VM that sets it apart from many other vitamin and minerals supplements is the inclusion of amino acids to support topline development, hoof and coat health. Although we have plenty of Protein in our pasture, we may sometimes lack Lysine and other essential amino acids that are included in Digestive VM. This is great to know as often we are feeding our horses low quality protein without knowing this and even though we are meeting their protein requirement, we aren’t meeting their requirement for essential amino acids that have critical roles in the body such as topline and hoof development.
And the icing on the cake if you feed Digestive VM, it also contains a yeast derived prebiotic. I often get asked the question what is a prebiotic? A prebiotic is basically a compound that feeds the good bacteria and fungi in the gut.
Remember the good bacteria and fungi in the horses hindgut are essential to ensure your horse is getting the most from their fibre based feeds. So Prebiotics make sure that by feeding these bacteria and fungi that they can do their job and digest the feeds you are feeding and you can ensure that your horses gut is functioning optimally all the time.
So the verdict on Digestive VM. It is a great all round vitamin and mineral supplement that contains the added benefits of amino acids and gut support. Many horses in New Zealand don’t need much in the way of hard feed so Digestive VM is a great supportive supplement to feed daily and fill the gaps in New Zealand based pastures. Not only will it help fill the gaps but it will also help support optimal gut health.
In my job, compromised gut health is the number one concern that we treat and careful feeding and management can prevent your horse from gut problems. Of course if you have a horse that has known issues such as gastric ulcers or a compromised hindgut then you may like to feed Digestive VM alongside Digestive EQ for more complete gut support. If you have any questions surrounding your specific situation you can always reach out and we can help to see how Digestive VM and Digestive EQ can fit into your horses diet.