Trickle Net launch ground-breaking free online forage calculator
The new resource has been developed over several months, and uses data pulled from the latest available research in approximating the dry matter forage requirements of horses and ponies on a grass and hay diet.
Built with guidance from Louisa Taylor BVM BVS (Hons) BVMedSci (Hons) MRCVS of Vetrition, the calculator requests horse owners to input their horse’s weight, hours turnout and type of pasture with the amount of hay fed and the feeding goal. The results are instantly available to the user and displayed with a host of recommendations and advice around feeding horses on a weight control diet. As an added bonus, the calculator also tells the user how much money they will save if they have been over feeding forage. The tool can provide a good starting point for owners, though it does not replace working with an equine nutritionist. Owners are directed towards the services of Vetrition and Practical Equine Nutrition for personalised weight loss plans for their horses.
The Forage Calculator was the brainchild of Ellen Chapman, founder of Trickle Net. Ellen says ‘Owners often ask us about the amount of forage to feed and we found ourselves repeatedly running through the same calculations when giving advice. I thought it would be ideal to have an online tool for owners to do this themselves and learn more about dry matter intake (DMI) requirements. I then wanted to make this tool more comprehensive and useful for owners, so I began to look more closely at pasture DMI and started reading the research.’
Ellen continues ‘We have created a unique resource which gives owners a good baseline to start from. Using the specific feeding goal, weight loss, maintenance or weight gain the calculator takes the numbers we know work. It then approximates on the DM requirements based on the owner’s information, and the research data. It can’t be entirely accurate of course as each horse is an individual, but it is a very good ‘ballpark’ calculation which is a big step forward for owners who could not easily access this important information before.
The calculator is supported by BETA, Redwings Horse Sanctuary, The Laminitis Site and Care Equine Education. Information on diet and nutrition, laminitis prevention, management and weight control can be accessed from supporters via the calculator page.
Dr Tamzin Furtado of Care Equine Education and University of Liverpool says the forage calculator will be extremely useful. ‘Trickle Nets new online calculator will be so helpful for horse owners trying to manage their horse's weight. We've found in the past that people find it really tricky to work out exactly how much forage they should be feeding, and this will help lighten the load. It's also great for determining how much your horse is overeating by - using the calculator made me realise, no wonder my boy is getting fatter as spring comes! Thank you to Trickle Net for making it easier for people to keep their horses healthy and well.’
The forage feeding calculator is a useful ‘quick guide’ tool which can be used by feed merchants, livery yard owners or indeed any professional who is providing guidance to horse owners in forage feeding. Trickle Net plan to keep the calculation up to date should any new relevant research become available.
Ellen says ‘Already the feedback has been incredibly positive. Credit must go to Louisa Taylor of Vetrition for her expert knowledge and guidance, and to Trickle Nets Ops Manager Ollie Gillyon who has been virtually drowning in coding dilemmas for several weeks! The project has highlighted further research opportunities and more interactive ideas. We hope to launch an owner focussed equine weight calculator, based around ideal bodyweight with owners accurately fat scoring their own animals. We feel this could also be incredibly valuable.’