Winter Mobility Issues

Winter Mobility Issues

Winter can bring about issues for our horses which can be forced upon as management routines are altered due to worsening weather.

Colder weather results in increased stiffness and a reluctance to move and combined with enforced stabling due to wintry conditions results in feeling every little ache and pain as they cannot move effectively in a small area, especially when turnout and exercise may be limited due to field conditions, unfortunately it’s not just us as riders who can feel like we are stiffening up as the days get shorter.

So, what can we do to help our horses and ponies make it through the winter in comfort?  Ideally looking to keep them moving as much as possible is important.  If you can turnout, then keeping them out as much as possible is ideal, however this is not always possible when land is limited or the weather is very bad however it’s best to try to aim for some turnout every day. Keeping exercise regular and steady is best practice, aware of how the horse is coping with it is important. Keeping the horse appropriately rugged up is essential, if kept warm they are less likely to feel the cold and finally avoiding carrying excess weight will also help ease the load on joints.

Is there anything nutritionally that can help?

There are many products out there aimed at the mobility market, but what ingredients should you be looking for to provide support for hard working joints?

Glucosamine HCl is a glycoprotein present in joints and is an essential, natural component of ligaments, tendons, cartilage and synovial fluid, the liquid shock absorber which lubricates and cushions the joints during movement.

Methyl sulphonyl methane, or MSM, is a readily available source of organic sulphur, a key component of connective tissue, which is important for cartilage and joint support.  MSM works in synchrony with glucosamine to help contribute to the overall joint health, including mobility, flexibility and range of motion for comfortable movement.  MSM also possesses antioxidant properties.

Omega 3 Oils

Are essential fatty acids which cannot be manufactured by the equine so must be supplied by the diet, play a useful role in both supporting the immune system and healthy joint function.

Vitamin C

Is a key antioxidant within the equine body with a usual focus on the respiratory system, however, it has been identified as the principal non enzymatic antioxidant component of the synovial fluid, therefore beneficial in a joint supplement.

Looking for a product which combines these ingredients backed up by research is going to be helpful.

Horslyx Mobility Balancer can be used to help maintain healthy joints in all horses, of all ages and breeds, whether for a performance horse that requires support for hard working joints, or as an aid for older horses that may have suffered from wear and tear over the years.  The combination of glucosamine HCl, MSM, Vitamin C and the Omega 3 fatty acids support healthy joint function and provide optimum joint support alongside a high specification balancer package.  Research conducted at The University of Central Lancashire with Horslyx Mobility Balancer has demonstrated improved stride length of horses suffering with stiff joints demonstrating that the combinations of products within Horslyx Mobility Balancer offers a practical solution in maintaining normal healthy joint function.

Mobility Balancer is available from selected Carr’s Billington Country Stores in 650g, 5kg and 15kg. For further information visit

Time4Transitioning: A Guide On Dry Cow Nutrition

a guide on dry cow nutrition

The feed and nutrition given to dry cows has a vital impact on their upcoming lactation and chance of taking during the next service.

To ensure dry cow requirements are met, consider splitting cows into two groups pre-calving; far-off dry cows (from drying off, to 2-3 weeks prior to calving) and close to calving cows (2-3 weeks pre-calving). This will increase the likelihood of each cow reaching the desired milk yield post-calving, reduce the risk of metabolic diseases and help prevent problems at calving. Our experts recommend bearing in mind the following factors when managing dry cows:

Body condition score (BCS)

Aim to achieve a body condition score of 2.5-3.0 at drying off. The cows should be monitored throughout the dry period and diets adjusted accordingly to maintain this BCS as they calf down. Doing so will help reduce the risk of health issues and problems at calving. Don’t forget:

  • Cows with a higher than ideal BCS during the dry period are more prone to experiencing health issues at calving such as ketosis and milk fever. If cows have too high a BCS at the start of drying off and then lose condition during the dry period, they are more likely to have a difficult calving (dystocia)
  • Cows with a lower than ideal BCS during the dry period could be at higher risk of ketosis
  • If cows need to gain weight during the dry period, this should be achieved within the far-off period. This will enable diets to be adjusted gradually and prevent cows becoming overfat prior to calving


Nutritional balance

It’s important that the quality and quantity of feed given to dry cows is correct. Pay attention to:

Dry matter intakes

Dry matter intakes pre-calving will impact milk yield post-calving so it is important dry cow diets provide a sufficient amount. The average pre-calving Holstein (650kg) will require a dry matter intake of around 12kg per day.

Far-off dry cows should be given a maintenance diet of mainly low-quality forage. Hay, straw and stalky forages with a low digestibility value should be fed to maintain rumen fill and provide just enough energy. 

Cows near to calving should be fed in preparation for entering the milking herd. Their diet should contain a high level of fermentable carbohydrates to increase rumen volume and stimulate rumen absorptive capacity. This reduces the amount of fat mobilised during early lactation to prevent too much condition being lost. Aim to feed a diet consisting of 70-80% forage plus concentrates.

Contact your local Carr’s Billington on-farm dairy nutritionist to ensure the diet you are feeding to dry cows is balanced to meet nutritional requirements.

Protein and energy

The ideal protein content in dry cow diets is 13-14% (130 – 140 g/kg). Diets with less than 12% protein have been linked to a reduction in colostrum quality, feed intake and early lactation milk yields.

A low energy diet of 9MJ per kg of dry matter of energy should be fed to far-off cows.

Providing a diet with high intake potential and energy density to close up cows can support greater dry matter intakes (DMI) both pre and post calving. Aim for 115/120 MJ of ME per cow per day.

dry cow nutrition vitamix

Immune system support

The dry cow’s immune system is compromised at calving so it’s important that vitamin and mineral requirements are optimised pre-calving to reduce health issues.

A balanced diet should provide sufficient levels of vitamins and minerals, although supplementation may also be required in some instances.

Key points to note about dry cow vitamin and mineral requirements include:

  • Grass silage in the UK is often high in potassium. Potassium levels that are too high within dry cow diets can restrict calcium mobilisation at calving which can cause milk fever
  • A diet that is low in calcium (30g per head per day) should be supplied to dry cows to increase the efficiency of calcium mobilisation at calving
  • Higher levels of magnesium within dry cow diets will assist with calcium uptake at calving for increased colostrum and milk production. Dairy cows may require more than 20-30g of magnesium per day although this depends on the constituents of the diet
  • A calcium bolus can be administered to cows at high-risk of milk fever immediately pre-calving. Predisposing factors that could cause a cow to be classified as ‘high risk’ include older cows (the risk of milk fever increases by approximately 9% per lactation) or pasture or legume fed dry cows
  • Dry cows will require higher levels of selenium, vitamin E and Zinc. Vitamin E and selenium will not only help immune function, to prevent and decrease the severity of mastitis, but could prevent white muscle disease in the calves. Zinc helps with the production of antibodies
  • Adding a premium yeast fraction like SafMannan ®, can help to improve rumen function and colostrum quality
  • A fresh cow drink containing glucose, vitamins and minerals and rehydration salts can be given immediately after calving to prevent deficiencies which could potentially cause a delay in her entering the milking herd or reduced milk production

Interested to learn more about feeding dairy cows in autumn? Read this blog.

time for transitioning


A high-yielding and low-intervention lactation hinges on a smooth transition from one lactation to the next.

Our 3-stage dry cow management optimisation programme for progressive dairy farmers defies complication and can give you a 3:1 ROI*.

Read More

Time4Lambing: Our Guide To Preparing For The Lambing Season

Preparation for lambing 01

Feeding ewes pre-lambing 

It’s vital that ewe nutrition is optimised throughout pregnancy to aid lamb development, as well as maintain ewe health and condition. Particular attention should be paid to their diet in the last six weeks of gestation, as this is when ewes start to produce colostrum and 70% of foetal growth takes place.  

Splitting ewes up according to the number lambs they’re carrying at scanning, will mean feed can be allocated correctly. This means target pre-lambing body condition scores (BCS) will be met, reducing the risk of problems either side of labour. 

Aim for the following target body condition scores at lambing (AHDB)

Ewe type 

Lowland ewe (60-80kg) 

Hill ewe (40-60kg) 

Ewe lambs 

Target BCS at lambing 

3.0 – 3.5 




If ewes are over-condition, they’re more prone to prolapse. Whereas under-conditioned ewes may have a reduced milk yield and produce lambs with a lower birthweight and/or survival rate.  

Our experts recommend providing cake or nuts that contain 16-18% protein to ewes carrying multiple lambs. This will help to ensure ewes maintain the correct BCS. Providing a higher protein and energy diet will also help to prevent twin lamb disease. 

It’s also important to ensure ewes have enough selenium and Vitamin E in their diet during late gestation. This will help support immune function, which is compromised just before the ewe lambs. These minerals and vitamins are also vital to help improve lamb vigour, survivability at birth and long-term growth rates.  

Metabolic testing, to detect vitamin and mineral deficiencies, can be carried out by your vet and blocks or buckets can be used to supplement livestock. Alternatively, drenches and boluses can be used to ensure individual ewes are dosed.  

Silage analysis should be considered to better understand the dry matter, nutrients and trace elements are available.  

Preparation for lambing

Health planning 


Our experts recommend vaccinating against clostridial diseases, such as lamb dysentery, and pasteurellosis, which can cause lamb deaths.  

Breeding ewes will require a primary course of two pasurella injections four to six weeks apart followed by an annual booster four to six weeks before lambing. Clostridial diseases should be vaccinated against four weeks prior to lambing. 

Also consider administering a footrot injection to sheep, at least four weeks before lambing if they’re housed. This will help to prevent it spreading. 

Treat for parasites 

Liver fluke poses a risk to in-lamb ewes as it can cause anaemia, rapid loss of condition and even death. It can also reduce lamb birth weight and cause abortion. Because of this, consider treating pregnant ewes with a flukicide at least six weeks prior to lambing. 

Worms become active once they detect oxytocin in the blood – the hormone that signals the start of milk production in the ewe just before and after lambing. Treating ewes soon after lambing when milk production has begun will therefore be beneficial. 

Lice and scab also pose a risk to livestock during the winter as the parasites tend to be more active when temperatures fall. It’s crucial ewes are treated prior to the lambing season, to reduce the risk of lice or scab being passed onto lambs, as treatment isn’t available for lambs under three weeks of age.  

Lambing kit list 

There’s nothing more frustrating than not having everything you need while you’re in the middle of lambing. Here’s our handy checklist to make sure you’re prepared: 

  • Milk powder 
  • Colostrum 
  • Iodine 
  • Disposable gloves 
  • Marker 
  • Lamb warming box  
  • Infrared lamps and bulbs 
  • Tail and castration rings 
  • Elastrator pliers 
  • Lime/disinfect 
  • Bottles and tubes 
  • Syringes and needles 
  • Prolapse harness/spoon 
  • Gels and lubes 
  • Ropes and instruments 
  • Feeder buckets 
  • Hay racks 
  • Medication that might be required e.g. antibiotics 
  • Glucose solution to treat twin lamb disease  
  • Cade lamb feeders  
  • Clean and disinfect sheds  
  • Set up lambing pens, including cade lamb pens 
  • Check water supply and clean water troughs 
lambing list cover
Click to View

View our 2022 Lambing Essentials List

Everything you need to get lambing done right this season


  • Ewe Feeds
  • Drenches
  • Minerals, Feed Buckets & Blocks
  • POM-VPS Medicine


  • Lambing Essentials
  • Marking
  • Gloves
  • Clothing
  • Disinfectants & Cleaners
  • Heat Lamps
  • Equipment


  • Lamb Nutrition & Feeding

Advice For Dairy Farmers On Handling Dry Silages

handling dry silages

Many dairy farmers will aim to achieve silages that are between  25-30% dry matter (DM). But with challenging weather early on in the grass growing season, 2021 samples, in a number of cases, have indicated silage is dry with an average of over 40% DM.

When dry matter is already so high in silage, it becomes crucial that consideration is taken on how to manage the overall DM within total mixed rations (TMR). This will avoid issues with palatability and the knock-on effects of this.

Benefits of adding moisture

For those who are seeing silage with high DM values, adding moisture, such as water, into a TMR is recommended. This can often help prevent dairy cows sorting the ration, which can lead to issues like subacute ruminal acidosis (SARA) and poor milk quality.  

For farmers looking at this option as a solution, consideration should be given to how much water needs to be added to a TMR diet, as this can impact palatability of the diet and intakes. An understanding of the dry matter of all dry ingredients is needed to accurately measure the volume of water required to achieve a TMR with a total optimal DM of 40%. Aim for the following amounts of water:

TMR dry matter before water is added (%)

Added water requirement to reach optimal TMR dry matter of 40% (Litres/head)










Table 1: Water calculations

Before adding water to a TMR, it’s important the potential issues associated with this process are understood so that the necessary precautions can be taken:

  • If water isn’t left to soak-in, sorting of rations could be a problem as there isn’t enough time for the water to penetrate the feeds before being eaten
  • Keep an eye on potential ‘balling’ of concentrates, caused by faulty blades on a mixer wagon or insufficient mixing time. This will mean the mix is denser than a standard TMR, putting pressure on machinery parts
  • Adding a preservative or mould-inhibitor, such as Selco TMR, at the time of mixing can help reduce further heating and waste. Adding a liquid feed, such as molasses, together with water is more effective than adding water alone to help reduce sorting.

Compact feeding

Another option to aid palatability when DM is high is compact feeding. This is a form of feeding that provides cows with feed that has usually been soaked for longer than a standard diet to reduce the likelihood of sorting.

This technique has been shown to increase daily milk yield by an average of 1.6 litres/cow and achieve even dung, butterfat and rumination levels among cows.

If going down this route, add 1 litre of water to 1kg concentrates and soak the feed overnight. This will mean it’s less likely to heat up than if water is added to the forages, reducing the risk of spoilage.

Top tip: Adequate fibre levels are needed in the diet for compact feeding to work, and diets must not have a high level of fermentable starch prior to adding water, because fermentation will increase and lead to potential issues with acidosis.

Pay attention to potential contamination risks

Dry silage could provide a source of mycotoxin contamination and poor dry matter intakes. This is because very dry silages are difficult to consolidate, especially at the sides of the clamp. This allows air to remain in the clamp and mould to grow, causing mild or severe mycotoxin issues. 

Pay attention to good hygiene to reduce mycotoxin contamination risk. Using a shear grab will help to keep the face of the silage clamp clean while also reducing heating, spoilage and losses at feed out. Aim to move across the pit as fast as possible as this reduces exposure of the silage. Half grabs may have to be taken to achieve this. If issues are seen in cows, consider feeding a mycotoxin binder.

Nedz – Excellence In Equine Bedding

Nedz Excellence in Equine Bedding

Originally established over 19 years ago, Nedz prides itself on providing top quality products and innovative bedding solutions.

Product Range

Prior to the Nedz brand being launched for horses, the company had produced products for the poultry market so had previous experience of the production of straw based bedding products and ensuring the use of top quality raw materials.

On the equestrian side the Nedz brand began its journey with the launch of Nedz Original and Nedz Pro. Both products go through the same high quality manufacturing process, but due to the different raw materials used, wheat straw and rape straw they produce very different end products.

Nedz Advance, which was originally part of the Nedz range back in 2007, has now been relaunched to fit within the ever growing and popular pelleted products range, now available for horses. Our new straw pellet is highly absorbent and has also been improved by having our unique Natural Nedz formula added to the pellets… something that no other straw pellet manufacturer is doing.

Our range of products is unlike any other on the market and this is due to our unique Natural Nedz formula that we have specifically tailored towards providing the very best benefits not only for horses but other animals too. Nedz Original is particularly popular amongst hen keepers and for rabbits as it doesn’t contain Eucalyptus. Steering away from the standard additives that most equine bedding products are treated with and again remaining ahead of the curve and continuously evolving to produce the very best straw based bedding products.


We can boast many satisfied customers, who appreciate the excellent value of our products, their high quality, and the enormous benefits both in terms of saving on labour and time as well as reducing the size of the muck heap with minimal waste and a quick rot-down period.


Our experience in the straw processing market has taught us that the only way to produce a top quality bedding product is to procure top quality raw materials and we make this our priority. Therefore, stringent controls are in place to ensure that we use only the best quality straw…most of which is produced on our own farm…which is guaranteed to be below the required moisture content level. Owners can thus be confident when using Nedz products they are providing their horses with a safe, quality bedding, manufactured to the highest standards, that will not compromise their horse’s breathing and performance and also offers an affordable solution to many of the bedding problems encountered today.

We take great pride in being a truly British company with UK sourced materials and as far as possible most of our raw material is grown on farm, reducing our carbon footprint.  We are also very proud of how far the brand has evolved over the years, and of the support we provide to a nationwide retail network.


Nedz Original – Wheat Straw & Nedz Pro – Rape Straw

  • Cost effective
  • Easy to muck out
  • Rivals shavings in absorbency
  • Bitter tasting to discourage bed eating
  • Offers cosy, comfortable bedding for your horse
  • Ideal for horses suffering from respiratory and skin problems
  • Biodegrades within two to three month and can be safely spread on the land
  • Creates a hygienic, virtually dust free, non toxic environment for your horse
  • Coated in our unique Natural Nedz formula which is made from all organic and herbal ingredients
  • Nedz Pro only requires a full muck out once a week

Nedz Advance

  • Straw Pellet product that is capable of absorbing five times its weight in liquid
  • Highly biodegradable
  • Easy to muck out
  • Average 60-70% reduction in waste over conventional bedding products
  • Does not need watering when initially laid, naturally fluffing up to create an absorbent layer
  • Coated in our unique Natural Nedz formula which is made from all organic and herbal ingredients
  • Does not dry out to dust
  • Very economical

Unique Natural Nedz Formula

When blended together, manuka, aloe vera, cade oil and silver offer a host of powerful properties including :

  • anti-bacterial
  • anti-fungal
  • anti-inflammatory
  • analgesic
  • Gentle enough for the most sensitive skin
  • Clean, fresh aroma which eliminates odours – no strong overpowering smell
  • Discourages bed eating using a natural, not toxic, bitter tasting ingredient
  • Antiseptic
  • anti-viral
  • anti-parasitic
  • Aids respiratory problems, skin disorders and reduces allergies
  • Helps discourage insects and bugs
  • Helps horses who are suffering from skin conditions

Breathe Easy This Winter

respiratory hoslyx

We all want our equines to be in the peak of health.In trained horses, the main limitation to optimum performance are respiratory issues.In a study of horses referred for veterinary examination because of poor performance, 81% (4 out of 5) had respiratory disease, therefore it’s quite clear that if your horse or pony struggles with respiratory issues, success is likely to be elusive.

Winter is an especially worrying time for equines with respiratory issues because stabling for more of the time can lead to increased issues, so management and care of these horses and ponies is paramount.

How can you reduce the risk of respiratory challenges?

One of the major issues with respiratory challenges is air quality and by confining your horse or pony to a stable means that the air quality is likely to be poorer than in the open air.  Unfortunately, after a period of wet weather, many livery yards will require stabling over the winter months and some equines may struggle to maintain weight if kept outside.  Therefore, aiming to improve air quality within the stable should be paramount by assessing the quality and type of bedding and forage used.  Using a dust extracted bedding and good quality forage or steaming the forage can all help reduce the risk of respiratory challenges towards your horse or pony.  Unfortunately, if you do all you can, but next door is using dusty straw and a poor-quality hay then all your good work can quickly be undone!

Can feed ingredients help?

Some ingredients can help support a healthy respiratory system, so it is useful to source products containing them.

Menthol, eucalyptus and aniseed can help keep airways clear of mucus, which can help the horse to breathe more easily and therefore may dramatically reduce stress.

Antioxidants are the body’s natural defence against oxidative damage from free radicals produced during immune challenge.  They play an important role in maintaining the health and integrity of all the different types of cells within the body and support and maintain a healthy immune system, which aids healthy lung function.

The antioxidant Vitamin C plays a crucial role in respiratory health.  Being water soluble, Vitamin C is found in very high concentrations in the fluid lining the airways.

respiratory hoslyx

Horslyx Respiratory Balancer has been formulated to provide a unique two-pronged approach in supporting a healthy respiratory system. Ingredients, such as menthol, eucalyptus and aniseed support the airways, while the high specification balancer package includes the antioxidants Vitamins C and E, selenium, chelated copper and zinc to help provide optimum lung support.  Horslyx Respiratory Balancer is available in 650g, 5kg and 15kg sizes.

respiratory horslyx

For further information please visit, email or call 016973 32592.