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Meadow Forage Pellets - add variety to your horse's diet

The making of Meadow Forage Pellets

23 May 2024

The making of Meadow Forage Pellets... At Simple System, we are constantly looking at what will further improve conditions for our horses whilst being very aware of environmental issues. For instance, we try as far as possible to reduce food miles by making the most of the skills and resources of our trusted UK growers.

For the last 4 years, we have been working on growing a range of beneficial forages together. Director of Nutrition, Jane van Lennep, had some clear ideas on the types of forage that she felt would grow well together and be highly beneficial to the horses as well as enhancing soil health. More plants support more gut microbes. These are vital to overall health, not just the digestive system, and contribute to the immune system. 

Site meetings with our grower and an agronomist included looking at fields and discussing all the challenges and benefits. A suitable seed mix was formulated, and a field identified for our trials. Timing harvesting was critical, as the crop was thriving on the chosen land. After 2 years experimentation, we were able to harvest a useable crop. This was extensively analysed and was safe as expected, so initial taste test trails were successfully completed then trialling with some horses in need of quality forage. They improved in weight, demeanour and coat condition.

During the final stages of a more extensive trial we agreed to extend the acreage with our grower. The mixed forages last for a few years, so we are closely monitoring the balance of species within the mix. After drilling, the crop can be cut that year if sufficiently developed. Any vegetation remaining in the autumn is grazed by sheep so that there is only new season growth the following year. Incidentally, the sheep thrived, much to the shepherd’s delight! Each year, the soil becomes more stable, sequesters more carbon and organic matter, the plants root more deeply and access more minerals. This is beneficial for the soil as well as the environment generally.

So, what’s in it? We chose plants specifically for the benefit to horses (and, incidentally, other obligate herbivores). Sainfoin is in the mix for its well-recorded health supporting attributes, multiple benefits to wildlife and deep roots. To support its growth, meadow and tall fescue grasses, which also increase fibre and diversity. Very few forage plants contain condensed tannins, which support the digestive process. To this end, we have also included Birdsfoot trefoil, a palatable native wildflower with distinctive yellow flowers attractive to pollinators. Initial work with other livestock has shown that these condensed tannins may help in reducing worm burden. Recent research with horses indicates a similar effect. There is also a herb, chicory, with its distinctive blue flowers and support for the equine digestive tract.

Four years on, we are happy to say that things have come to fruition, and we are now able to supply our Meadow Forage Pellets for horses in need of even greater support for their gut and its microbes, or just a high-quality forage. It's a massive bonus that we are also able to support the environment, and sustainable UK agriculture in such a positive way.

You can order Meadow Forage Pellets from your local Simple System stockist (find yours by clicking here), or for direct delivery to your home or yard at www.simplesystem.co.uk

If you'd like to discuss your horse's diet, the Simple System Feed Line team are always happy to help by providing advice and management suggestions, specific to your horse's individual needs. Call us on 01728 604 008 or complete our feeding advice request form by clicking here.

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A nutritious blend of easily digested forages, grown together, to increase variety in the diet.


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