Stomach and intestine discomfort can hinder your horse’s performance. Research shows that as many as 90% of active performance horses struggle with ulcers and other gastric issues.

In response to this need Cavalor created Fiberforce.

Fiberforce is:

  • Low in sugar (3%) and starch (5%)
  • High in fat (7%)
  • High in fiber with a unique mixture of long stem fibers (29%)
  • No whole grains
  • Scientifically proven*
  • Formulated without wheat gluten

*Glycemic and insulinemic response in healthy thoroughbred mares after consumption of a commercial horse feed low in non-structural carbohydrates. C.M.M. Loos1, K.L. Urschel1, T. Barnes1, D.A. Van Doorn2; University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY, USA1; Cavalor Equine Nutrition Research

There are several factors that influence gastric health. One of the first factors is the length of time it takes to consume feed. Pelleted feed is consumed more rapidly than textured feed but concentrates in general are consumed more rapidly than hay. This is important to be aware of because chewing creates saliva and saliva plays an important role in buffering the stomach with natural antacids.

Also given that in nature horses would eat approximately 18 hours per day, the increased chewing time provides the horse with a feeling of satisfaction.  Something that should also be considered in determining a feeding program.

▶️ Fun fact: 2.2lb of concentrate will produce 1 quart of saliva, and 2.2lb of hay will produce 3.1 quarts of saliva. 

In 2014, Cavalor partnered with the University of Kentucky to evaluate Cavalor FiberForce.  The study was looking at a few factors.  One of those factors was how long it took a horse to consume 2.5 pounds of various types of feeds including a variety of Cavalor feeds and the other was the impact of Cavalor FiberForce had in relation to the glycemic index and blood glucose response.

Looking at the graph above, you can see that, Cavalor FiberForce and Cavalor Strucomix Original take the longest time for a horse to consume.  The reason for this is that these two feeds have an increased amounts of Lucerne alfalfa fibers combined with various textures which slows the horse’s eating time down as they must spend more time chewing their food.  This slower consumption is important when feeding concentrates as it encourages the horse to produce more saliva and assists in the breakdown of feed particles which allows the horse’s body more time to absorb the nutrients of the feed during the digestion process.

The second factor, Cavalor explored was the impact of Cavalor FiberForce on the glycemic index and blood glucose response.  As seen in the chart above, Cavalor FiberForce shows an overall low post-prandial (after a meal) glycemic and insulinemic response, like that of a mature grass hay.  A low NSC/high fiber feed like Cavalor FiberForce could be of use when a low GI feed is recommended.

Read an overview of our Fiberforce study

Daily Take Away

The way most horses are kept these days include spending a portion of their day in a stall, moving less (limited turnout), traveling to shows regularly and consuming increased amounts of grain to sustain performance; These changes in lifestyle can lead to a variety of issues that can plague horses including insulin resistance, laminitis, muscle disorders, ulcers, colic and more.  So, how does Cavalor Fiberforce influence these potential gastric issues?

Low sugar, low starch

Cavalor FiberForce has a very low starch and sugar content (36 g/lb). It contains 14 g/lb of sugar and 22 g/lb of starch. Cavalor FiberForce’s sugar content is almost 80% lower than the sugar content of hay.

Note: the sugar content of roughage may vary greatly depending on type and cutting.

It also contains a higher percentage of fat (7%) than regular feeds. The energy content of this feed is in harmony to the maintenance needs of the horse and therefore deliberately low. This is not designed to be a standalone feed for the active sport horse that may require more energy for performance.  However, in this case Cavalor FiberForce could be supplemented in a feeding ration. (See When to Choose Fiberforce in these situations further down.)

High in fiber

Due to its high fiber content, Cavalor FiberForce can replace part of the roughage or in specific cases be used as a complete feed since it contains 29% crude fiber!. It’s unique combination of fiber sources gives it a wide fiber profile, but it also contains short alfalfa stems that promote chewing activity necessary for saliva production and gastric health.

When horses find it difficult to absorb long-stemmed roughage, Cavalor FiberForce may be able to help. Cavalor FiberForce’s crude fiber content can be compared to the crude fiber content of hay. It can be fed on its own but can also easily be mixed with other forages as it contains necessary minerals, trace elements, and vitamins as well as probiotics and Digest Control to promote gastrointestinal health.

Cavalor FiberForce is also very appetizing!

Horses and ponies with Insulin Resistance

Providing feeds containing lots of fast available carbohydrates increases blood sugar levels after a meal. As a result, the release of insulin will increase and the glucose will be stored in cells in the liver, muscles, and adipose tissue. This is a normal process.  However, if the horse is “insulin resistant” (IR), these cells have a less sensitive response to a normal increase in the insulin level. IR is therefore more of an indicator of the animal’s physiological condition. There is a link between obesity and IR in horses. However, IR is also found in horses that are in normal condition.

Many horses and ponies are unnecessarily overfed which risks obesity. Horses and ponies that display a combination of IR, visible fat deposits in specific places (including the neck, haunches, and base of the tail), and which have laminitis, or have a history of laminitis, are currently described as animals with “Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS)”.

With this condition, an excessive intake of sugars and starches from grains and fructans from forage is particularly undesirable. Horses battling EMS benefit from diets where energy is mainly supplied by fibers and oil (fat) and not by fast available carbohydrates. Such diets are characterized by a high content of crude fiber, crude fat and are low in sugar (even coming from forage) and starch.

High quality ingredients help support normal metabolism by:

  • Providing available nutrients that are easy to absorb
  • Body spends less energy processing food to obtain what it needs to function properly
  • No extra harm caused by poor quality nutrients (Example: liver and kidneys working harder to remove excess waste from the body)
  • More energy can be used to fight disease vs. processing food

Horses and ponies with muscular problems

Horses with muscular problems can also benefit from a high fiber feed that is low in fast available carbohydrates. Energy in the form of fat can be a safe source of energy for these animals. Diets that meet these criteria are recommended for muscular disorders such as Type 1 Polysaccharide Storage Myopathy (PSSM), Type 2 PSSM, and horses prone to tying up.

For these horses, reduced starch intake shows benefits, so feed no more than 20% of the daily digestible energy (DE) in the form of starch. Instead, provide 20-25% of daily DE in the form of fat. It’s also important to help these horses move as much as possible through regular turnout and exercise.

Management tips:

  • Provide a well-balanced diet
  • Provide appropriate calorie intake for exercise demand
  • Ensure adequate vitamins and minerals
  • Provide additional Vitamin E and selenium if needed
  • Provide electrolytes for horses performing in hot climates and plenty of water!

Stomach ulcers

The high fiber content in Cavalor FiberForce ensures that the horse must chew more. This increases the production of saliva in the mouth. Saliva has a limited buffering capacity, but it especially helps to wet the chyme and thus positively influences the acidity level in the stomach.

By chewing longer, the passage of the food also happens more gradually. As mentioned before, 2.2lb of concentrate will produce 1 quart of saliva, and 2.2lb of hay will produce 3.1 quarts of saliva. That’s a big difference! For these horses, feeding forage and meals in small quantities throughout the day will be beneficial, and if free choice hay is suitable, that too can help.

Management tips:

  • Feed little and often
  • Make sure horse is receiving 1-2% of body weight in forage. (Example: A horse weighing 1,000 pounds should get 10-20 lbs of forage a day)
  • Consider adding some alfalfa to the diet which is rich in calcium which acts as a natural antacid
  • Feed a grain that is low in sugar and starch
  • Get your horse scoped by a vet to truly determine the presence of ulcers

When to choose Cavalor Fiberforce

  • When horses and ponies are prone to insulin resistance and need a feed low in sugar and starch. Fiberforce can be used in the dietary management of horses with laminitis or EMS as well.
  • With gastrointestinal problems, especially when there is a need for a high-fiber complete feed alongside roughage (in the case of stomach ulcers), or when the absorption capacity of the small intestine is limited. In these cases, fast-available carbohydrates must be prevented from slipping through to the caecum and colon, Cavalor FiberForce is appropriate.
  • In muscular disorders where a high carbohydrate intake is not recommended.
  • When the fiber content in the diet must also be increased by concentrates because of practical considerations. Swapping Cavalor FiberForce can replace the required energy content of the current concentrate (grain). This may be necessary when the horse is susceptible to stomach ulcers or colon acidification.
  • For horses with respiratory diseases in which the roughage absorption is restricted (due to dust particles), it may be appropriate to increase the proportion of fiber in the diet by means of other fiber sources.
  • In vet clinics, as part of a post-operative feeding strategy (6 to 12 hours after intestinal surgery in horses without reflux).

How much to feed?

  • As a supplementary grain in addition to enough roughage (hay and straw) maximum 1 lb of FiberForce/ 100 lbs of body weight.
  • As a complete feed for horses in specific conditions or that are struggling to absorb forage maximum 2 lb of Fiber Force/ 100 lb horse weight.
  • FiberForce can be combined perfectly with other Cavalor feeds e.g. Strucomix Original, Perfomix, Superforce, or Endurix.
  • Feed Cavalor FiberForce for at least six to eight weeks to improve the internal health of the horse.
  • For ulcer prevention, add or replace a portion of your horse’s daily concentrate with Fiberforce. Top dress your current feed with 1-2 lbs of Fiberforce at each meal or feed as a separate meal. For example, a lunch or late evening meal.
  • For horses suffering from ulcers, replace grain ration with Fiberforce. If the horse is experiencing active ulcers or ulcer reoccurrence, try replacing grain ration with Fiberforce for 60-90 days. If the horse is a hard keeper, this can be combined with Cavalor Strucomix Senior for added calories.
  • For replacing a daily gastric or ulcer supplement,  feed 1-2 lbs of Fiberforce per day. Feed similarly to above recommendation and/or give a 1 lb snack of Fiberforce 30-60 minutes prior to a stressful event like horse showing or trailering. This creates a “roughage mat” which helps to keep the acid in the lower part of the stomach (glandular area) and prevents splashing into the more sensitive part of the upper portion of the stomach (squamous, non-glandular area).
  • Helpful hint: Remember to weigh feed out in pounds, not volume to prevent under-feeding. One scoop of feed X does not weigh the same as one scoop of feed Y.  Use a scale to weigh out feed exactly.