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Why do horses do so well on Benchmark Perfect Mash and Super Fibre Mash?

You only have to look at the amazing images shared on our Community Facebook page to see that the Benchmark shine is a real thing. So we asked our Nutritional Consultant Dr. Mark Barnett to provide us with a science-based perspective on this phenomenon.

People are commenting that their horses have gained in condition, with shiny (even heavily dappled) coats and are “cooler” in temperament since they have started feeding Benchmark Feeds. Why would this be occurring on such a low-ingredient feed? There are three main reasons:

  1. Quality highly fermentable fibres
  2. Mineral and vitamin concentrations at levels that work
  3. Pre and Pro-Biotics

Quality Highly Fermentable Fibres

Fibre is (should) be the basis of any horse’s daily diet, but not all fibres are the same. Chaff, for example, is simply short cut hay, but its digestibility decreases significantly the shorter it is cut. The digestibility of hay too is affected by the amount of hard to digest fibre present. The more undigestible lignin found in the stems of the plant used to make the hay, the less digestible it is.

Soybean Hulls are high-quality, highly fermentable fibres. This means their digestibility inside the horse is up to about 85%, with most of this occurring inside the microbial fermentation vat found inside each horse – the hindgut! T rillions of tiny microbes found in the hindgut perform various tasks but none more so than the fermentative digestion of the fibre consumed by horses.

Through the release of chemicals, these microbes break down and convert hard to digest fibres into something useful for themselves and the horse. The microbes use some of what is produced for themselves while the rest is converted into products the horse can use – volatile fatty acids (VFAs), vitamins and beneficial enzymes.

The VFAs are short chains of fats. These fats pass through the wall of the hindgut into the bloodstream where they travel to the liver to be converted into long-chain fats that can be either used as an immediate energy source or stored for when needed.

VFAs have almost three times the amount of energy in each unit compared to sugars (the common energy source in grain-based feeds.

The storage of energy as fats in the body means an improvement in the horse’s body condition. These same fats are also a key component in the presence of dapples commonly found in horses fed Benchmark Feeds.

The vitamins produced from fermenting the soybean hulls, mainly vitamin K and the B vitamins, boost the health, performance and appearance of the horse while the enzymes released by the microbes have been scientifically linked to not only physical but also mental health improvements, especially boosting mood.

Mineral and vitamin concentrations at levels that work

All horse feeds contain minerals and vitamins of some sort. The difference with Benchmark Feeds compared to the rest is that we include them at levels scientifically proven to be effective. When we say effective, we mean at levels shown to help improve the health, appearance and performance of the horse. After all, why add more than you need when you know it is only going to be wasted. Also, why not put in enough if this means you have to feed much more to get any effect – that’s way too expensive.

Pre and Pro-Biotics

Good gut health is more than just good feed. It’s really about the microbes found in the gut. Feeding, nurturing and supporting these good microbes while minimising the bad ones really is the key to good gut health, and good overall health.

Benchmark Feeds provides quality pre and pro-biotics to help improve digestion, absorption and, just as importantly, the production of beneficial enzymes by the microbes. These are the same enzymes scientifically linked to better gut and overall health.

So, why are horses being fed Benchmark Feeds Perfect Mash and Super Fibre Mash doing so well, looking so well and feeling so well? Because we made sure we included the best ingredients in each feed, at the best levels, to get the best result for your horse and its microscopic companions found in the gut.