Basic grain-free diet - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 22 Old 11-21-2009, 06:50 PM Thread Starter
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Question Basic grain-free diet

Our TWH mares, who are 3 and 5, have been pastured at the neighbor's place since we got them in June. Currently they're getting all they hay they want (pasture is kinda bare now). They're also being fed sweet feed, which I do not want to continue once we bring them home, but I'm not sure what else they need in addition to their hay. They won't have access to pasture at our house.

They're ridden lightly and have a small paddock to share, so their calorie demands aren't that great. I'd like to give them a grain free diet, but without making it very complicated. Is good quality hay enough? How can I find out the nutritional value of the hay we'll be buying?

Currently they have a salt block, would a mineral block be better? Do they need both?

Any good references on this subject would be helpful too.

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post #2 of 22 Old 11-21-2009, 06:58 PM
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A mineral block would do them excellent. They need grain if no access to grass. Hay is just a filler. Even with Bermuda grass hay and other types, ours still get grain. I wouldn't feed sweet feed. Just 12 or 14 percent pellets, and access to hay should be just fine =]

Lettin' the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier than puttin' it back. -- Unkown
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post #3 of 22 Old 11-21-2009, 07:07 PM
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Hmm. I never thought of hay as a filler. To my understanding, hay/roughage is the cornerstone of any horse's diet and grains are quick, but not sustaining sources of energy. Unless the horses gets thin easily, they shouldn't need grain. Hay is easier on their digestive tracts because it doesn't get held in their hindgut and consequently ferment (a risk with grain if you feed large quantities). All my horses live on a 100% roughage diet, and if they get skinny, I add a lipid additive to hay pellets and that usually sorts them out.

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post #4 of 22 Old 11-21-2009, 07:19 PM
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I agree with Superstarsugar. My horse lives outdoors 24/7 with free choice hay. Next to pasture, it's the most natural and the healthiest choice. Caleb gets a cup of Purina feed as a treat when he's done work and to add a few extra nutrients.
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post #5 of 22 Old 11-21-2009, 07:22 PM
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I think grain is usually more of a filler.

Good quality hay will be fine for them. Check to see if you can get certified hay. Mine is on hay alone and is happy and healthy. He is turned out in pasture, but right now there is no grass.
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post #6 of 22 Old 11-21-2009, 07:27 PM Thread Starter
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So I don't need to add any kind of hay or alfalfa pellets? Or beet pulp? I've seen a lot of people mentioning that they feed those things, not sure why.

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post #7 of 22 Old 11-21-2009, 07:28 PM
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Good quality hay is all a horse that is not getting used much needs. I have five horses and I have bought 2 bags of grain in 3 years. When I feel lazy or when the horses are out in a pasture I use the grain to chum them in so I don't have to walk out and get them.

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post #8 of 22 Old 11-21-2009, 07:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snoggle View Post
So I don't need to add any kind of hay or alfalfa pellets? Or beet pulp? I've seen a lot of people mentioning that they feed those things, not sure why.
I'm not sure why people feed that stuff either. I know in some places beet pulp is really cheap so it is used to supplement hay. Some places it's hard to get alfalfa so they buy pellets or cubes. I did some of that a few years ago because I couldn't find hay anywhere because the darn texans had bought it and shipped it all out of state.

There's nothing like the Rockies in the springtime... Nothing like the freedom in the air... And there ain't nothing better than draggin calves to the fire and there's nothing like the smell of burning hair. -Brenn Hill
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post #9 of 22 Old 11-21-2009, 07:46 PM Thread Starter
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Okay, so hay alone does it. We should be able to get plenty of that, so no fillers needed. I'll just get a mineral block next time I'm at TSC.

I know we won't be able to get "certified" hay - most people here just cut down grassy fields without really knowing the type of grass that's in the hay. They aren't seeding for a particular type of grass, its more just whatever happens to have grown there. How can I find out the nutritional value? Is there a way to test the quality of the hay?

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post #10 of 22 Old 11-21-2009, 08:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kevinshorses View Post
I'm not sure why people feed that stuff either. I know in some places beet pulp is really cheap so it is used to supplement hay. Some places it's hard to get alfalfa so they buy pellets or cubes. I did some of that a few years ago because I couldn't find hay anywhere because the darn texans had bought it and shipped it all out of state.
I can answer that. I do occasionally feed these things, as I said. Both of them are roughage feeds, so not as likely to create a hot horse, BUT they are both in a form that is easy to add supplements to, such as for a horse that needs MSM/Glucosamine, probiotics, a fat additive, or other supplements. Putting these additives in hay doesn't work out so well, and next to hay, pelleted roughage is the next best feed.

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