Most horses can digest sugar very efficiently as it is a natural part of the equine diet. But when molasses is added to feeds, supplements and licks, the added refined sugars in the diet can adversely affect some animals. For this reason, many advocates of natural and holistic horsemanship methods recommend that all these extra sources of sugar (such as molasses) are removed from the horse’s diet altogether.
How much sugar does your horse eat?
Horses will always consume quite large amounts of sugar because grass is a natural source, containing up to 2 – 3% of soluble and structural sugars during the summer. As grass is the horse’s staple food, the actual amount of sugar eaten during the course of the day can be quite considerable. However, this sugar, in the form of mainly fructose and glucose, is part of the structure of the plant and therefore a more natural way for the horse to eat.
What is Molasses?
Molasses contains mainly sucrose, and is a pure refined source of sugar, compared to the sugars found in grass. It can be made from sugar cane or sugar beet and is a bi-product during the manufacture of crystalised sugar. It is a popular feed additive for all species as it is very palatable but also an excellent binder, carrier and anti-dust agent. Refined sugar is not a natural part of the diet, and although it does offer some nutritional benefits, there are better alternatives, and it is an unnecessary addition to your horse’s diet.
Molasses in Feeds
Many horse owners, see better results when they keep added sugars to a minimum, and therefore choose ‘molasses – free’ or ‘low-molasses’ feeds and chaffs for their horses. However, many owners don’t realise how much sugar or molasses is used in their licks and supplements. Most licks on the market are based on molasses, with some containing as much as 66%. This means that despite the product being formulated to provide a vitamin and mineral supplementation, the carrier used for these essential nutrients is a lick, two thirds of which is pure molasses. Often because of their palatability, intakes can be high and a regular check should be maintained at all times otherwise a greedy horse could consume a considerable amount of sugar.
What makes HerbiLIX Different?
In 2006, an innovative alternative to molassed-based licks was launched, called HerbiLIX. Using unique manufacturing methods developed over 30 years, the Denis Brinicombe Group found a way of producing hard licks with less than 8% sugar that remained just as tasty as the molasses-based products. These licks contain mainly salts and minerals, and use a very small amount of molasses with a blend of herbs to create a palatable, sweet aroma and delicious taste. Despite the sweet smell, the overall taste is salty, thus helping to limit the horse’s intake. What’s more, as these licks contain so little molasses they are non-sticky and do not soften in hot weather.
There are three versions of HerbiLIX available.
HerbiLIX Original – essential vitamins and minerals with added herbs
HerbiLIX Airways – the low sugar lick for respiratory support
HerbiLIX Flystop – The low sugar lick to reduce fly nuisance (contains Think Fly)