About Us

Over the last 30 years, Dr John Kohnke has become the most well known Australian veterinarian as an adviser on the nutrition and practical health care of horses. He provides a nutritional consultancy service to many trainers and studs, as well as owners and riders of equestrian horses.

He has written and edited two major books and numerous book chapters on equine nutrition, which have become well recognised hand books for horse training, breeders, owners and veterinarians throughout the world. He has written over 2000 articles on horse feeding and health care, presented over 1800 seminars and lectured on horse nutrition to students of horse care courses.

His interest in equine nutrition and feeds has provided him with specialist knowledge in formulating dietary supplements to meet the specific needs of all types of horses.

He has now formulated an innovative range of feed supplements and horse care products, distinguished by the Kohnke’s Own brand name.

The Kohnke’s Own range of supplements are based on scientific formulations that will help ensure that the mineral, trace-mineral and vitamin content of your horse’s diet will not be a limiting factor to its health of performance.

The nutritional range is centred around six separate cold-pressed supplement pellets, or Supplets®, an innovative, high quality nutrient dense small food pellet developed especially for the Kohnke’s Own range of supplements. Each Supplet type contains specific classes of nutrients to ensure optimum stability, which are blended in different proportions relative to the nutrient needs of growing, breeding, exercising and resting horses. Separate supplements of Vitamin E, iron and salts are also available to correct specific inadequacies in the diets of horses, where necessary.

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Sizzling Summer: Hindgut Heat Load

Although your horse’s nutrition is an important consideration over the entire year, you can help your horse cope with the hot summer days with some specific feeding strategies. As the weather heats up, some horses struggle with heat stress, including those in moderate to intense training, older horses and ponies, and those with common conditions such as EMS, Cushings and anhydrosis.
Roughage (ie grass, hay, chaff) is a critical component of your horse’s ration – it should make up more than half their total feed to reduce the risk of digestive problems and particularly, gastric ulceration. Fibre, as part of roughage, traps water in the bowels and provides a beneficial fluid reservoir for exercising horses. For example, 1 kg of hay absorbs and holds 3 kg of water in its structure as it digests in the hindgut.

However, providing a high roughage diet is a balancing act, as the digestion of fibre in the hindgut is a fermentation process to release nutrients and energy, but also produces quite a lot of heat. Hindgut heat, or the heat produced as the roughage is digested, can be a hidden factor in heat stress. Fats, such as oil, are a useful addition to your horse’s ration for coat condition and as a non-fizzy, but also a non-heat waste energy source, because it produces less heat as it is digested than other feeds such as grains, bran, chaff and hay. Reducing the amount of high fibre feeds and grains in your horse’s hard feed and substituting with 75 – 125 ml of good quality oil can help a horse which often becomes overstressed by heat. Kohnke’s Own Energy Gold is a cold-pressed, virgin Australian oil blend with balanced omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids for optimum health, coat shine and cool, non-fizzy energy.

Protein is another important consideration in summer. An adequate protein level is particularly important for your horse’s health, including maintenance of muscles and top-line. However, too much protein can cause increased heat load. This is because excess protein in the diet is dumped into the hindgut, producing up to 6 times more heat compared to fibre and starch, when it is digested there (rather than in the small intestine where it is normally digested). Providing too much lucerne hay is a common cause of excess protein levels, hindgut heat and possible heat stress. Lucerne hay, as a roughage, contains both highly digestible fibre and high protein (17%) compared to grass hay and if fed in excess, can significantly add to hindgut heat load. All that is needed for a lightly to moderately worked horse is 1-2 biscuits of lucerne hay per day, any more hay offered should be grass-based or from a cereal crop, such as oaten hay. However, if you have an EMS affected horse or pony, you may have to soak grass or cereal hays to reduce sugar overload.

Finally, in hot summer weather, pastures can become dried off and stressed, which can compel the plants to store excess sugar in their base and roots to conserve energy for regeneration once conditions improve. Ensure that horses and ponies which are sugar sensitive (ie. with IR or EMS-type conditions), over-weight or at risk of laminitis, are carefully managed if your paddocks dry off and stop growing. In these cases, management may include allowing only short periods of grazing during the day and yard confinement at night, with low sugar or water soaked hay.

If you would like more tips for feeding horses during hot weather, as our friendly Kohnke’s Own team for Dr. John Kohnke’s handy factsheet on the subject. Email info@kohnkesown.com or send a message to our Kohnke’s Own Facebook page for a pdf copy.
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Kelly Ellerton, Adrienne Smith and 47 others like this

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Julie MaysI know this is not exactly the subject for this but I am finding that the hay that we are getting through summer these days is also filthy with dust and mud. This is off one biscuit of hay. I wash all my hay but a lot of people don't. It could also be loaded with allergens and moulds this kind of dust and dirt. I think its pretty bad considering what we are paying for hay these days that this is going on. I know horses have dirt in their environment but it seems that most of the hay in summer these days is this dirty and it never used to be so what is going on? Even chaff you have to use a gas mask a lot of time. This was a handful of dust and mud from one biscuit only. That going down into a stomach twice a day cant be good.

2 days ago   ·  1

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Kelly HansenGreat info as always

3 days ago

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Amie MortonPaula Knapp. This may be why Will struggles in the hit weather. 🤔

3 days ago

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Julie Maysjust another shot

2 days ago
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Kody-Leigh BrechneyScott Brown Squid & the dry grass? Too much sugar perhaps?

3 days ago
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Annette ChisholmChloe Canham thought this might be of interest to you.

3 days ago
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Jo NewtonJackie E Treasure

3 days ago   ·  1

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Heat Stress in Horses

The hot, dry summer in Southern Australia and the tropical, humid heat in the northern areas can combine to increase the ambient heat in the air. This increase can reduce the ability of a horse to lose heat absorbed when out in the paddock grazing, in stables overnight, as well as that generated and accumulated during and after training exercise, and is likely to result in heat stress.

Horses naturally have a very efficient heat loss or cooling mechanism as part of their thermoregulation system. Only 2 species, humans and horses, sweat to lose heat. The efficiency of heat dissipation improves as a horse becomes fit during training as the thickness of the skin is reduced and the efficiency of sweat loss and transfer of heat from the lung surface is improved. Horses standing in the sun without shade or wind flow at temperatures above 33°C, start to accumulate heat in excess of that lost by sweating. They then start to store the heat in the 60 litres of hindgut fluid reserves, which acts as a ‘heat sink’. Studies have shown that a horse can store up to 1 million watts of heat energy in its hindgut ‘heat sink’, which it can dissipate by radiation, convection, exhaled respiratory air and sweating under cooler evening conditions.

Under hot, humid conditions, when the efficiency of sweating, which is the primary means of heat dissipation, is compromised horses can be subject to heat stress. Horses must rely on heat loss as air flows over the body, increased loss from the hindgut ‘heat sink’ reserves and blowing off heat or ‘panting’ to exchange heat from the highly vascular respiratory system. Horses under humid conditions often develop the ‘puffs’ or rapid, shallow breathing at rest, and ‘blow’ hard after exercise, as they attempt to control their muscle, blood and internal body core temperature. Horses in heavy condition or those with a thick hair coat retain more heat after exercise. Black horses are likely to absorb and retain more heat absorbed from the body surface, compared lighter coloured horses or those with thin hair coats.

Dr. John Kohnke has developed a simple calculation to determine if heat stress is likely to occur in your horse. The sum of the ambient temperature (°C) and the Relative Humidity (%) can provide a useful guide to the risk of heat stress for horses during hot summer conditions, especially when in work.

If the sum is less than 100 (eg Temp 25°C, RH% 75), then a horse will be able to sweat efficiently to cool during exercise. If the sum is between 100-120 (eg Temp 30°C, RH% 75) then sweat loss will be less effective and a horse may overheat when worked hard or for long periods. If the sum is greater than 120 (eg Temp 35°C RH% 90), then sweat evaporation under humid conditions will be significantly reduced and heat overload is likely – limit exercise to a maximum of 10 minutes or postpone training until it is cooler in the early morning or evening.

Hosing under your horse’s belly for 30 seconds with cool water will help to remove heat from the hindgut ‘heat sink’, as well as helping to reduce forceful panting, ‘blowing’. It is best to do this 2 – 3 times throughout the day during extreme summer temperatures and especially after work.

If you would like more information on Heat Stress in horses, or for some handy ways to help reduce the risk, message our Facebook page or email info@kohnkesown.com for a free factsheet!
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Janice French, Katie Leoni and 48 others like this

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Kelly HansenSo interesting. I would think providing shade on hot days would be obvious and part of looking after your horse . Great information from john as always .

4 days ago

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Kathryn DiteCool, I didn’t know they could store heat in the hind gut like that. Clever! Really interesting read 🙂 I always knew to hose the belly in extreme hot conditions but didn’t really understand why. Thanks 👍

2 days ago
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Ryan Van De VeldeAnthony Stephenss

4 days ago   ·  1
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Jane MarriottJessie Spark

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Georgina OakmanLisa Vince

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Angela McDonoughAllan McDonough

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