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post #31 of 102 Old 02-13-2014, 09:26 AM
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Grass/hay and loose minerals for all my horses.

I have 2 elderly animals (one quarter horse and one mini burro) that are starting to have trouble keeping weight so they are about to get started on soaked alfalfa pellets with a bit of canola oil mixed in to see if that will help them get back up where they need to be.
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post #32 of 102 Old 02-13-2014, 12:33 PM
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My mare is on hay/ grass only right now because she isn't working and we have very good quality grass hay. This spring when she starts working, she will be on a performance grain called E-Tec from Poulin Grain. There is a breakdown of its nutrients here:

EQUI-PROŽ E-TEC™ | Equine | Poulin Grain - Dairy, Equine, Pet, And Livestock Feeds

Another feed I really like is distributed by Blue Seal, called Sentinel Lifetime. You can read about it here:

I don't know what is readily available in your area, but these are the two feeds that I am partial to. It also depends on your horse, your soil, what is lacking in your hay etc. I always find looking for the right feed is a long process...
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post #33 of 102 Old 02-13-2014, 12:57 PM
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Having access to hay all the time is the first step to keeping weight on a horse in the absence of good grazing - or in restricted grazing diets but the reason people turn to the concentrates which can give as many or more calories in much smaller quantities is that hay is bulky and fills the horse up often before its eaten enough to do the job. Not helped by the fact if its fed dry its going to increase that bulk by quite a lot when its in the digestive system and absorbing fluid
I also find that horses can lose interest in hay - unless its really top quality or haylage (both come with high sugar risks) but will make a quick track for their mangers or feed buckets
The (fox) hunters in hard work used to be fed oats & barley as well as flaked peas & beans and some got flaked maize (corn) if they started to struggle to keep weight on towards the end of the season but nothing ever got colic or any other problems
What you do have to do though is balance the feed against the work the horse is doing
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post #34 of 102 Old 02-13-2014, 01:20 PM
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Alfalfa hay, alfalfa pellets (for lunch during the winter, alfalfa hay in summer), a ration balancer, mineral block, and flax and beet pulp. What one feeds often depends on the region/conditions they are in. For example, timothy is far more expensive than alfalfa here, and oat hay is practically non-existent. I would like to feed all three (alfalfa, oat hay, and timothy) as and when appropriate. And, if they weren't exposed to dirt/sand, I would drop the beet pulp - entirely.

There is just as much horse sense as ever, but the horses have most of it.
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post #35 of 102 Old 02-13-2014, 04:53 PM
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Originally Posted by loosie View Post
But I still wonder about oats being SO bad, whether this is old info & it's to do with more research that has given me this, but a nutritionist I have a fair amount of respect for has told me that oats are the 'lesser evil'(still not great & there are generally better alternatives...), because they're relatively(compared to other cereal grain) low in starch & they are also able to be broken down in the stomach(as you no doubt understand that's conditional, depending on amount, etc, etc) That it is still best to feed processed, but it is the exception to the rule compared to other grains, that MUST be processed or they are completely unable to be broken down in the stomach.

So... not saying oats are good for the horse, just the best of a bad bunch.

Good question: "...wonder about oats being so bad....." and a true(ish) statement "lesser evil". Best of the 3....but is that reason to use them?

No power at the farm for the moment (ice storm last night), but as fate would have it a friend had her notes from a class we took last year I think (very short, refresher for me that I'd forgotten about, but actually a great class for learning the basics and a bit more...which is really all that's needed for someone who owns horses). Anyway, she'd kept most of her material , so I got some better numbers.

I'll keep it short by just addressing the oats.
(Just for general information, the cyanide, arsenic and strychnine was close sine barley is worse than oats and strychnine is worse than arsenic ) While there are other grains that are fed (wheat, rye, etc...) the big three are Oats, Barley and Corn (Maize). Oats come out at approximately 40% starch (which is probably why you'll hear is the best), Barley is approximately 55% and Maize is approximately 70%.

Now on to oats (and why some say feed oats...the lesser evil of the big 3) Whole oats with the hull still have some fiber value (the hull), but whole oats are very difficult to digest. So oats are fed "naked" (without the hull) and processed (usually rolled oats, cracked corn, etc..., but there are other processes including up to extrusion). Processed oats have the best digestion rate of the "big 3" in the small intestines (SI). That sounds great so oats is the way to go....????....well, perhaps it would be true if we end the story there . Of that 40% starch that comes with the oats less than 20% is processed in the SI (if we're lucking...maybe over 15% of the 40%). That means at least 20% + (over 50% of the starch in oats) is reaching the cecum (but still lower than barley or maize) addition to any other lesser amounts of starches that could be coming from the hay, grass, etc..... in the horse's diet. (that's why I don't like to say that the microbes that deal with it are "bad" since they do have a purpose...just need to be kept at very small quantities). Remember that horses get starches and NSC from many sources. They usually reach the hindgut and have to be dealt with. It's the need to keep the amount of it low and those "bad" microbes will be there to take care of it while the good microbes, which are thriving an a ph level that the "bad" microbes don't like, take care of all the fiber that should be making up what the horse should "really" be living on.

Now, what do we get from oats? More starch, NSC that we don't need along with a good dose of P which is needed to a certain level (kept at the proper ratio). Do we need oats for this (is it really worth the starch and NSC to get that phosphorous)? The only time I would say "yes" is if there was no other source for it. If you need the energy and P that oats are used for then I'd say use copra (all the pluses with none of the negatives). Except for beet pulp being high in CA, with pretty much no P, it gives you pretty much all the positive attributes of oats too, without the negatives.

It is certainly true that of the top 3, oats is the best of them. Certainly better than corn or barley (although the difference with barley is only around 15% + or - going it and being dealt with in the hindgut).
Putting it into perspective most people would logically elect to have foods with a higher level of arsenic over foods with cyanide or strychnine since the later two are more lethal at lower doses. Or a better example would be selecting the food that had the lowest level of arsenic of the 3. However, would they elect to ingest that same level of arsenic (which still poses it's own risk to their overall health) as the price of getting the other nutrition they need if those same nutrients were readily available from better, healthier sources with less arsenic or perhaps even no arsenic?
(Perhaps I should have use trans fats for the human comparison ....although we do eat foods with's a naturally occurring substance in soil that plants taken....brussel sprouts tend to have a good, but still low dose of arsenic )

That's why I hold to the stance that all grains should be avoided. Can there be cases when a grain should be fed? Sure, even cases when I'd recommend it, but they'd be pretty dire cases . e.g. If I was riding through the wastes of Nevada (the state with the lowest amount of rainfall in the US) out of feed with no grass, no hay, no vegetation, no water in sight and then behind a rock I came across a mud hole with pile of oats hay next to it along with a bucket with whole oats (which are very difficult to digest) I'd let my horse feast on them and drink the muddy water . I just wouldn't do it under normal conditions when I can make a better choice for health of my animal vs having to accept the only choice to keep it alive.

They're always going to be bigger and stronger so you better always be smarter. (One of my grandfather's many pearls of wisdom)
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post #36 of 102 Old 02-14-2014, 07:41 AM
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^^Excellent post!
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post #37 of 102 Old 02-14-2014, 08:48 AM
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Really interesting informative post - thanks for taking the time to type it all out
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post #38 of 102 Old 02-14-2014, 10:26 AM
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I guess I am set in my ways also. Good hay and oats is what I feed. NEVER had trouble with that combo.
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post #39 of 102 Old 02-14-2014, 12:01 PM
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Depending on how much you feed, the type of horse and what you do with it oats are likely not going to do any harm but they also don't give as much by way of nutrients as a quality complete pelleted feed with added vitamins, oils and minerals would
Tractor Supply Rolled oats cost $21.49 for a 50lb bag in my area
Nutrena Choice Senior Horse feed costs $20.99
The Purina Omolene Growth Horse Feed is only $19.99 for a 50lb bag
Beet pulp pellets can be bought for $15.00 for 40lb
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post #40 of 102 Old 02-14-2014, 01:01 PM
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I've heard people argue that the feed sweet feed or corn or oats (or whatever) and their horse never has any problems

But how long do they live? (and are you measuring the ph level in the cecum....are you sure there's not a problem just because it's not jumping out at you?)
Secretariat lived on good hay, good grazing and oats (make no mistake...they "took care" of him...he had the best...including the best of what wasn't the best for him ) for 19 years (until it forced them to kill him, because of feet issues...yes, feed can and often does effect the feet).

Typically a the life span of a horse is generally between 25-30 years. The ones we kept typically lived 30+ years (Russell - 1st cousin-once-removed- still plowed with one that was 32 just a few years ago....but then you'd have to know Russell ...over 80, owns 3 tractors and still plowed his garden with "one horse power" )

I had a 1st cousin who had that same sort of "logic" (it wasn't a problem for.....). While in many respects an intelligent man academically, with an incredible potential, he'd become "set in his ways" during his very early years as an adult. Our great grandfather drank, smoked and ate a diet that was very high in saturated fat (pretty normal for a Southern man born mid 1800's and living in the country) and still lived into his 90's. Our grandfather gave up drinking (except for a hot toddy when sick ) not long after getting married. Smoked about 3-4 pipe bowls a day and enjoyed a cigar on Sundays. Ate a diet with still a bit more saturated fat than he should, but better than our great grandfather and only lived into his early 80's.
Willie's "flawless logic" was that obviously our great grandfather was doing it right, because he lived a decade longer (boggles the mind how an intelligent person comes up with this in the face of hard evidence). Unfortunately for Willie "real" science trumps the flukes of great genes and hard working life helping someone beat the odds. He drank and smoked and ate what he liked (loads of fried food didn't seem to hurt Paapaa) and died 4 months before his 40th birthday. The rest of his siblings were a smarter (thankfully) and all doing well (oldest sister is in her 70's now, older brother is 69, two younger sisters, still older than me, in great health).
No one says that a horse can't survive even poor dietary practices. Many survive well into their 20's (why do you think they set the typical lifespan at 25-30 years). And yet there are those that live longer without all those great oats, corn, etc.... and other "pre balanced" feeds put out by the industry.

A bit like humans. Man, in most places, use to live to an old age into the 60's on average (not all that long ago). Better knowledge of what's healthy vs what's not, along with better medical treatment now has us living "almost" as long as people in Okinawa, and other select areas, were living well over a generation ago with just the healthier diet .

Now, is anyone likely to hit the text book perfect balance for what a horse needs? No. Someone running a test with a controlled and monitored diet might be able to do it for awhile, but 99.999999999999.......% of all domestic, feral and wild horses are not going to have the "perfect" nutritional balance. The goal of horse owners "should" be to get as close as practical and possible and that's much easier to do. At least it is in most of the "English" speaking world (with it's general obsession for horses ). Easiest first step is to eliminate as much excess NSC as possible from the diet. Quickest way to do that is to eliminate grain from their diet (they sure don't need it). Then move on to insuring that they are getting all the things they do need in the proper ratio. Which isn't always as easy since it would require testing of the hay, grass, etc... to determine what was present vs what was lacking (so you test the major feed items, like what they graze on and their hay). It will be different everywhere which is why it's the most difficult part (and why it's not done much). It's also why all these "balanced" feeds are so funny. Do they make one for each area and to match each horse's individual needs? (Wow, they must being doing a massive amount of testing and how are they tracking the logistics of insuring that each batch gets to the farm that needs, for example, more K and less Mg for )

They're always going to be bigger and stronger so you better always be smarter. (One of my grandfather's many pearls of wisdom)
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