I know of 2 ponies so far that have switched to RB and went into kidney failure shortly afterwards. It was fed at the level recommended on the bag for them. Was it solely due to the RB? Probably not - can't even prove these two instances were due to RB at all, though it seems highly coincidental when in both instances those were the only changes in their life. Problem is - horses and ponies can hide issues very easily. These horses may have already been having kidney issues before this and no one knew it and may have gone on the rest of their lives just fine. But the added protein in the RB could have pushed them over the edge since the kidneys had to handle the excess.
I'll give you that. There are always going to exceptions. Just like the horses that died or aborted fetuses when given Quest dewormer or the WNV vaccine. Proverbial "stuff" happens. Is that a reason to say RBs, Quest, or the WNV vaccine is BAD? Well of course not!
However, many studies are showing that unless your horses are doing high-level performance, most hays & pastures have adequate protein. Why do we need to add even MORE to the diet then? I just never understood that frame of mind and one of the reasons I never jumped on the RB bandwagon. I do agree - sweet feeds and other feeds with a high NSC are not good for most horses. However, I also don't think extra protein is good either, especially when they are getting adequate amounts from their hay or pasture.
I do agree with you there. I wish RBs would have a lower protein alternative. The problem is, one of the main benefits of using an RB is the quality amino acids which ARE defecient in MOST hays (grass hay especially). The easiest way to increase quality amino acids is to increase the protein content.
When supplementing is needed - I prefer recommending a little beet pulp (which is only 10% and I usually only give enough for the supplements to mix in unless the horse needs to gain weight or something) and just a regular vitamin/mineral supplement. These are usually given in a 1.5-3 oz scoop. This overall is very little added protein above and beyond the normal forage. Pastured horses who are in good weight only get a mineral block. So coming from this view - RB are a very concentrated dose of protein in comparrison.
I agree with you, except I recommend Alfalfa pellets with a vitamin. AP is high in some of the amino acids that are low in grass hay. The protein is lower than an RB (15-17%), but you also need to feed more than just a pound. I usually recommend 1.5-5 lbs, depending on the horse and situation.
Vitamin/mineral supplements are usually low in amino acids as well. There are some there, but not much. Protein is only part of the equation. The QUALITY of the protein is very important. Without quality protein that is high in amino acids, the horse cannot properly utilize the protein and it's just peed back out...
That is why many horses on hay-only diets, or those not receive proper amounts of the grain/feed they are eating, don't have a lot of muscle tone or have a mediocre topline. There are always exceptions of course, but if you have a horse that is lacking in muscle tone (not a fat or rounded horse, but one without defined muscles) and/or poor/mediocre topline, often increasing amino acids will help without the need for extra exercise or special training equipment.
You can increase aminos without feeding different foods. Uckele makes a good product called Tri-Amino that you can simply add to whatever your horse is currently eating. Uckele Equine Nutrition
They don't list the protein content on it.