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5 Tips for topline without the fizz (in winter!)

 5th June 2023

#1 Feed plenty of forage & fibre 

Forage and fibre (eg. pasture, hay and chaff) should always form the basis of your horse’s diet. At least 1.5% of their body weight should be fed as forage per day, which is 7.5kg for a 500kg horse. This much forage is essential for your horse’s gastrointestinal health, their welfare, sense of contentment AND it will supply a large amount of their energy and protein requirement. Forage also provides a slow, consistent supply of energy throughout the day – to help them keep a level head!  

In winter, there’s also another advantage to feeding a fibre source such as hay – it helps keep your horse warm from the inside out. Hay is primarily digested by the good microbes in the hindgut, and this process produces warmth to help maintain core body temperature. 

#2 If you feed grain, make sure it’s cooked, not raw 

If your horse is in moderate to heavy work or they need to put condition on, they will likely need some extra energy in their diet, on top of their forage. If you plan to supply this energy via grain, make sure the grain is cooked (ie. extruded or pelleted)! Cooking grain makes the starch it contains much more available for digestion and absorption in your horse’s small intestine – and reduces the likelihood of it ending up in the hindgut. If undigested starch does end up in the hindgut – which is what often happens with raw grain – it can disrupt the hindgut microbiome and lead to pain, excess gas production, irritation and excitable behaviour. 

#3 Feed high quality protein 

If you want to build topline or assist with muscle recovery, you need to feed high quality protein…. But what does ‘high quality’ actually mean? Protein is made up of amino acids. Feeds that contain ‘quality protein’ are rich in essential amino acids which are highly bioavailable (so your horse’s body can use them). Extruded soybean, soybean meal and stabilised rice bran are examples of high quality protein. 

#4 Top up with fat or oil 

Horses digest fat easily and it has the added advantage of providing slow-release energy to help them keep a level head. Adding a feed that’s high in fat or oil (to a forage-based, balanced diet) is a great way to provide your horse with a concentrated, ‘cool’ energy source to help with conditioning. An energy-dense feed or supplement – such as one that’s high in fat – can be especially helpful in the winter months, when energy requirements may be higher due to the cold. 

#5 Rule out any underlying causes of weight loss, poor muscling, or hot and ‘fizzy’ behaviour 

This might sound obvious, but if your horse is lacking condition and topline, make sure underlying disease, bad teeth or a high worm burden aren’t part of the cause.  

If your horse is prone to hot or ‘fizzy’ behaviour, make sure they’re not in pain or discomfort. Feeding the right feeds for conditioning, topline and calm behaviour is definitely important, but so too is addressing any other underlying issues. 


CopRice – Nutrition that stacks up. 


Got questions? Need help designing a diet? The Team at CopRice would love to help! Give us a call on 1800 029 901. 


The information provided in this article is intended as a guide only. Information contained in this article has been provided by the manufacturer and although Nutrien Ag Solutions has taken all due care to provide accurate information in this article, there can be no guarantee that such information is accurate as of the date you read it, or that it will continue to be accurate in the future. You should not rely on the information in this article, and it should not be considered advice. You should seek professional advice regarding relevant factors specific to your situation. This article does not take into account variable conditions that may impact performance. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Nutrien Ag Solutions Limited and its related associated entities will not be liable for any loss or damage suffered by any person arising out of any reliance on any information contained in this article.