Sweet feed = horrible? - The Horse Forum

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post #1 of 40 Old 01-12-2010, 02:42 AM Thread Starter
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Question Sweet feed = horrible?

I've recently been seeing quite a few people say "sweet feed is horrible!" I don't think I've ever seen or heard that until this week.

I'm wondering what is it that makes it so horrible? I JUST put Starlite on it tonight (just a little bit, she won't be getting alot of it) so now I'm kind of nervous I keep seeing that it's horrible...

I know it can make horses hot, which is why I've hesitated putting her on it for a while as she's already hot. She used to go crazy on corn and oats but I feel like now we've established a good foundation undersaddle that she will put her energy towards listening to me instead of not listening.

What else makes it horrible? Anyone?

passion is when you put more energy into something than is required to do it. it is more than just enthusiasm or excitement, passion is ambition that is materialized into action to put as much heart, mind, body and soul into something as is possible. // <3 starlite - dream - lady - georgia
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post #2 of 40 Old 01-12-2010, 03:41 AM
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It is very sugary which is bad for sugar sensitive horses.

Horses are not meant to have such a high sugar and protein, low fiber diet like one you get from sweet feed.

Since their gut works off of fermentation of large portions of fiber, feeding sweet feed is kinda like throwing gas on a fire... too much to fast for them to digest, so a good portion of the time it goes undigested and is just defecated right back out.

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post #3 of 40 Old 01-12-2010, 04:04 AM
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And because they can't digest it properly, it makes them more prone to colic. Plus the increase in sugar can eventually cause cushings or laminitis.

Quote:
Frank Andrews, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVIM, a professor and section chief in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences at the University of Tennessee veterinary school, has researched the effects of grain feeding on gastric health and ulcers. He explains that volatile fatty acids (VFAs) and fermentation products of soluble carbohydrates in grain contribute to damage of the stomach mucosa (lining), with subsequent gastric ulcers.
Andrews notes that the extent of injury to the stomach lining depends on the amount (dose) of concentrate (fermentable carbohydrates) ingested. If grain is included as part of the diet, current protective strategies recommend feeding less than one pound of grain per 220 pounds body weight. If, for caloric reasons, more concentrate is fed than this recommendation, then the "dose" should be limited by offering small amounts at least five hours apart. This limits a horse's intestinal exposure beneath a "threshold level" of Volatile Fatty Acids (VFAs). Your horse's ration should be weighed, rather than fed by volume, so you know exactly how much your horse is receiving.
Other health hazards, besides gastric ulcers, that are directly related to grain include:
  • There is an increased risk of colic associated with feeding five to 10 pounds of concentrate per day.
  • It is recognized that the high starch (and fructan) content of concentrate feeds (or pasture) increases a horse's susceptibility to developing laminitis.
  • Horses afflicted with PSSM (polysaccharide storage myopathy) do not do well on grain-inclusive diets, as this adds to the problems of abnormal accumulation of glycogen and glycogen-related polysaccharide (sugar) in skeletal muscle. Low NSC and high-fat feedstuffs should be substituted for high-sugar concentrates.
  • Sweet feed contains molasses, which is 6% potassium, a dietary component that is dangerous to feed horses with hyperkalemic periodic paralysis (HYPP, a genetic disease of Quarter Horses and derived breeds characterized by sporadic episodes of muscle tremors and stiffness, along with elevated serum potassium levels).
  • Many concentrates are fortified with electrolytes (salts) and/or molasses that contain potassium, so read the labels to know what your horse is getting.
  • Grains grown in stress conditions are susceptible to development of mycotoxins (mold byproducts) or to endophytes (types of fungus), such as in fescue hay.

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post #4 of 40 Old 01-12-2010, 04:57 AM
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Sweet feeds, and to a lesser extent, grains, contain high levels of NSC's - Non-Structural Carbohydrates. The reccomended MAXIMUM for horses is >14%. Research has shown that most commercial sweet feeds and grain-based feeds contain 20%, 30%, even 40% NSC's.

High NSC levels have been linked with metabolic issues ad other issues such as laminitis, founder, tying up, insulin resistance, cushing disease, etc. Basically, it is like feeding a horse junk food. Their digestive systems are not made to digest such high levels of sugar and starches.

Many, many horses spend their whole lives eating massive amounts of sweet feed and seem none the worse for it. However - That is generally because horses don't live long enough to outwardly show any damage that may be caused by an innapropriate diet.

There is NO need to feed sweet feed, or even grains. There are many viable feeding options that are more suited to the horses digestive system and often more cost-effective than commercially produced sweet feeds.

I recently switched all my horses to a no-grain, no-sweet feed diet, as my main horse was tying up as a result of the sweet feed I had been feeding my other horses for years. They have ALL been doing better off the sweet feed.

I use speedi-beet as bulk - To fill the belly, and also supply some energy. For my show horse, who is in hard work for periods of the year, I add copra - A coconut meal high in oils which provide energy, but is still very low in NSC's. I also use white chaff and meadow hay to make up bulk if they are off pasture for a night.

Other replacement feeds are things like flaxseed, micronised lupins, rice meal, oils... So on and so forth. It is easy to get the energy you need without all the junk-food extras in sweet feed.

My horses have an iodised salt lick and a mineral block in the paddock, and don't need feeding at all most of the time, and when I do feed them, it is with the above mentioned grain and sweet feed free diet. They are all barefoot, fat, healthy, shiny, and full of energy.

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post #5 of 40 Old 01-12-2010, 06:55 AM
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It all depends on how much you feed and the condition of the horse. I do remember reading the research that amount of sugar in sweet feed is less then in lush pasture. In fact I can believe that. And sweet feed is #1 around here to feed very expensive show horses as well as cheap trail horses. With that being said I personally think it makes the horses pretty hot. I feed mine the low starch/low sugar pellets (no molasses, no corn, mostly beet pulp ingredient) because the grain gives them too much energy kick. I may switch to just sweet feed or regular pellets when they'll get older and more quiet.
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post #6 of 40 Old 01-12-2010, 06:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kitten_Val View Post
And sweet feed is #1 around here to feed very expensive show horses as well as cheap trail horses.
Kitten, do you have any idea how offensive and supercilious this phrase is? My two TWHs are trail horses; they were not cheap, are not cheap now, and never will be cheap--in any way, shape or form. They have top pedigree lines. They get the very best feed, housing, tack and treatment that I can possibly give them. To consider "trail horses" cheap is the worst kind of snobbery that gives high-falutin' show people a bad name!!!

And, a dear friend of mine who shows TWHs, both of whom are World Grand Champions, is extremely down-to-earth, has regular ole trail horses, and I ride one of her show horses on the trail all the time.

Shame on you!!!!

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post #7 of 40 Old 01-12-2010, 06:12 PM
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Diet is for sure a ever expanding area. Lots of new studies, lots of opinions.

Remember its just not what you feed its how much and how often. Twice a day is pretty much the standard that most use. Calculating protein by body weight and amount of work is the other. Hay is also a constant.

Sweet feed is a huge business and has been around for a long long time. The big feed companies study things pretty good and use different types of protein--corn, wheat, soy etc--depending on the current price but all are required to provide a label on each bag guaranteeing the percentage of protein and such.

I personally don't use sweet feed but I know a lot of barns who do.

Look for a good balanced diet--get your vet to make some recomendations--feed twice a day and keep the good hay coming. If you choose to feed a high protein hay--alfalfa, jigs, timothy etc--then be sure that the protein is calculated into the total protein in the diet.
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post #8 of 40 Old 01-12-2010, 10:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rider4life View Post
Kitten, do you have any idea how offensive and supercilious this phrase is? My two TWHs are trail horses; they were not cheap, are not cheap now, and never will be cheap--in any way, shape or form. They have top pedigree lines. They get the very best feed, housing, tack and treatment that I can possibly give them. To consider "trail horses" cheap is the worst kind of snobbery that gives high-falutin' show people a bad name!!!

And, a dear friend of mine who shows TWHs, both of whom are World Grand Champions, is extremely down-to-earth, has regular ole trail horses, and I ride one of her show horses on the trail all the time.

Shame on you!!!!
She wasn't singling out YOUR horses, or even ALL trail horses, she was using it as a broad statement. Because there ARE horses you can pick up for 1k because they're grade, non-papered horses who don't have an extensive background in a show ring. Yes, there are expensive trail horses - bombproof, husbandproof, etc. But you're not going to find a $55,000 dollar trail horse that easily, unlike a well-bred show horse.

Just making a point with it. I have an inexpensive horse I trail ride on... I don't take offense to it.

No need to get upset :)

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post #9 of 40 Old 01-13-2010, 01:26 AM
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Think of Sweet Feed like Fast Food. It's okay, in moderation, but it's really not that healthy of a choice.

Sweet Feed (and most other commercially prepared horse feeds) is high in sugar and starches, which aren't great for the horse's digestive system and metabolism. It has the potential to increase a horse's risk of founder/laminitis, obesity, ulcers, "hard keeper" syndrome, and even increase behavioral issues ("hot", "spooky", or even "mare-y"). It can also cause PH fluctuations, which can increase the risk of thrush, rain rot, and other skin issues.

Many horses do fine on it all their lives. Others, not so much.

Many people combat sweet feed problems (unknowingly) with supplements designed to improve coat, hoof, attitude, joints, etc. Oftentimes, when you just eliminate the feed and replace it with a balanced forage-based diet, all of these issues suddenly resolve on their own...

Since taking my horses to a forage based diet two years ago, I have seen a VAST improvement. My hard keepers stay fat on very little food, my moody mare is much more managable, all if their feet are barefoot and in great condition, my "high strung" boys are much more mellow, and issues like rain rot or thrush are a very minimal occurance. I will never go back to feeding a commerically prepared horse feed ever again.

I feed free choice quality Bermuda mixed hay, alfalfa pellets, 1/2 cup of flax, and a balanced vit/min formula with added amino acids. I get all of the benefits of a top quality horse feed, without the high levels of sugar or starch, or unwanted byproducts and iffy ingrediants.
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post #10 of 40 Old 01-13-2010, 01:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by My Beau View Post
She wasn't singling out YOUR horses, or even ALL trail horses, she was using it as a broad statement. Because there ARE horses you can pick up for 1k because they're grade, non-papered horses who don't have an extensive background in a show ring. Yes, there are expensive trail horses - bombproof, husbandproof, etc. But you're not going to find a $55,000 dollar trail horse that easily, unlike a well-bred show horse.

Just making a point with it. I have an inexpensive horse I trail ride on... I don't take offense to it.

No need to get upset :)
Here in Arkansas right now, you can find those bomb proof, husband proof, kid horses for $500-$1,000... I just bought one for $1,100, delivered!

I agree with you though, I understood what she was saying. "Low maintanence" type horses that don't normally get "top care" like expensive show horses (fancy barns, clipped, blanketed, lots of supplements, etc.).
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