Determining the correct feed for horses - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 10-17-2013, 11:02 AM Thread Starter
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Determining the correct feed for horses

Hi! I've been trying to increase my knowledge regarding equine nutrition, but with so much information and with companies who are quick to praise their own products, I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed.
My issue right now is trying to find feed that would suit my current horses needs. Each are very different then each other, so I recognize that I'll have to invest in different types of feed. Cost isn't a huge issue. I'd prefer to keep it under or around $20 a bag, but will pay a little more for something if it is perfect. My local feed store has an incredible diversity of feeds, but are also fantastic about special ordering or pointing me in the right direction if they don't have it.
Normally I don't bother with hard feeds, since my horses have been doing great just on hay/grass, but one horse is at a place where they feed all horses hard grains everyday and the other three are fed grain in the winter when they come in. Unfortunately, the only feed the barn owner provides is generic sweetfeed, which isn't ideal for any of my horses.
I'd really appreciated opinions from others or direction on where to look for help.

Mare 1: She is a 17 yo quarterhorse type mare. She is wide in build and is overweight (she is a work in progress lol). She gains weight easily. In the winter, she is on free-choice round bales during the day, and a few flakes at night (unfortunately cannot reduce the amount of hay). She will be in medium work in the fall (ridden for an hour and a half to two hours 4 times a week, with lots of trotting) and light work in the winter (ridden for less then an hour a few times a week, lots of trails). I'm thinking some sort of ration balancer would be the best option for her

Mare 2: She is a draft cross mare, nearly 17 hh. She is 22 yo and goes through the winters very well. She is also on round bales during the day and a few flakes at night. She is very rarely ridden. Has cushings disease.

Mare 3: 4 year old quarter horse. She is always good weight...doesn't seem to gain or lose regardless of what she is eating. Puts on muscle easier than the other two. She will be in the most work as she is a show horse. She also has free access to hay during the day and a few flakes at night.

Mare 4: 8 year old quarter horse. She is in light work right now. She is my newest horse, so I don't know as much about how she winters. She will be on free choice of hayledge in the winter. She will be outside all winter. I'm thinking about keeping her on beet pulp and a ration balancer.

Anyway, I'd greatly appreciate any help! Thanks in advance
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post #2 of 8 Old 10-17-2013, 11:17 AM
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Sounds to me like you're already off to a good start! Lucky you for having easy keepers, it makes everything easier ;) well, unless the horse is overweight anyways.

With the first mare who is too heavy, a RB does sound like the best choice for her. I've heard that the triple crown RBs are the best (I don't have access to it in my area and I'm just going off of what others say) If you can't get one of those, perhaps Purina Enrich 32 (I think it may have been renamed...someone help me out?) would be a good option. It DOES cost quite a bit more than $20 which makes a lot of people shrink away from it, but in the end it really costs no more than any other feed because it is fed in a much lower ratio than other grains. You might feed 5-7 lbs of a Safe Choice feed to get the right level of nutrience, while you can feed as little as .5 to .75 lbs of Enrich and get the same amount with less calories.

Actually I think all of your horses would do well on just a RB, including the cushings mare if she winters well. The only one I might add something else to is the 4 year old since she's a show horse, and if the new mare starts dropping weight at all, her too. For the 4 year old I wouldn't necessarily give her a grain, but a nice supplement (I've used DuMor Ultra Shine and ShoGlo and liked both) might give her that extra shine, coat/hoof/skin health, etc. I first thought ShoGlo was cheaper but after doing some calculating for myself, I realized that in the end they end up about the same. A bag of DuMor Is $30 or so and lasted me 4 months for one horse, while ShoGlo was $13.99 and last me 2 months. So it really is a matter of preference. I only switched because my filly has a terrible habit of knocking over her feed bucket and spreading her grain on the ground, and she wasn't getting any of the powdered DuMor so I switched to pelleted ShoGlo.

If the new mare drops weight you could do the beet pulp if you have time to soak it for at least 3-4 hours (preferably overnight) before giving it to her, but if not you could give her some rice bran (doesn't need soaked) to top off her RB.

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post #3 of 8 Old 10-21-2013, 10:13 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you Endiku!

I realize that after I mentioned price range, it would have been more accurate if I priced per week or month rather then per bag.

And the beet pulp would be soaked for 12 hours, so it would be enough time.
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post #4 of 8 Old 10-21-2013, 10:20 PM
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Enrich 32 is now called Enrich Plus.
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post #5 of 8 Old 10-21-2013, 10:22 PM
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Have to jump in here. ShoGlo is a vitamin/ mineral supplement and Ultra shine is a flax/ rice bran supplement.
I would put all on a ration balancer, over the winter add flaxseed, either straight or the ultra shine or the Omega horse shine( straight flax being the cheapest), good hay free choice and see from there. if the show horse needs more energy or calories, that's easily added with rice bran or oats.
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post #6 of 8 Old 10-22-2013, 08:02 PM
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Originally Posted by deserthorsewoman View Post
Have to jump in here. ShoGlo is a vitamin/ mineral supplement and Ultra shine is a flax/ rice bran supplement.
I would put all on a ration balancer, over the winter add flaxseed, either straight or the ultra shine or the Omega horse shine( straight flax being the cheapest), good hay free choice and see from there. if the show horse needs more energy or calories, that's easily added with rice bran or oats.
This was going to be my advice, although I prefer to feed rice bran, alfalfa, or beet pulp for extra calories instead of grains (oats). Keep in mind that the draft mare will probably need more of the RB than the other horses.

I feed Triple Crown's ration balancer ("30% Supplement") and highly recommend it. The price per bag can seem high but is actually cheaper per serving IME. At my store it's $32 for 50 lbs of TC30, versus Empower Balance which is $24 for 40 lbs... $.64 vs $.60 on a pound-for-pound basis, and the TC30 is more nutrient dense. I figured my horse's feed using FeedXL and would have had to feed 1.5 lbs of Empower Balance ($.90/serving) to get the same results as 1 lb of TC30 ($.64/serving). So don't get scared off by the price per bag
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post #7 of 8 Old 10-29-2013, 01:46 AM
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Agree with others, that it sounds like they only need a ration balancer that provides them with balanced nutrition with minimal additional calories. I would also add Magnesium(chloride) to their diets extra - it's well worth doing some research into this particular nutrient.

If you can't restrict the hay, I'd look at using a 'slow feeder' net over it, to slow them down & prevent gorging at least, or use grazing muzzles. I would also be cautious about feeding haylage as opposed to hay.
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post #8 of 8 Old 10-29-2013, 08:56 AM
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Be careful cutting back on hay too much in the winter. I think Ontario has winters pretty much like mine. They tend to have a lot of near freezing rain starting now and soon heavy, wet snow. Hay does more to keep them warm than anything else.

I've got my 3 on a ration balancer. They do great. 2 are air ferns, one not so much but still pretty easy compared to a lot of horses I see.

I see a big difference in my 38 yr. old, 11 hand pony. She is thriving on it.

I tried to feed just the ration balancer and free choice grass/hay. Didn't work because I have a run in shelter and no effective way to separate the 3 during mealtime. The 38 yr old is the alpha horse and would run the other 2 off their feed. I added a really low NSC hay stretcher and a few alfalfa pellets and it solved the problem. Little Miss, large and in charge stands at her dish and finishes every last bit and by that time the walking horse has finished her slightly higher calorie meal and rice bran. By the time the pony runs her off there are a few alfalfa pellets left in the dish. Pony thinks she has accomplished something and the walker goes to the extra dishes of hay stretcher I left.

I also believe that Poulin's hay stretcher is the only thing that has saved the pony from a grazing muzzle so far. I can fill her up on a meal that has a really low carb count and she doesn't gorge on the grass in the warm weather.

Extra Magnesium added does seem to help the pony who though not tested I'm certain is IR. I was able to see less puffiness around her eyes within a week of starting and her all around squishiness is less noticeable, though the rest of the body squishies took longer. I guess I'd call it water weight. Kind of hard to describe but I see the difference. My old app mare looks less swaybacked. Odd lumps and crestiness has disappeared. Neither of these 2 mares could be described as svelte. Still stocky, big boned ladies, a little on the fluffy side but overall the diet change made them appear much younger than their years.

The pony, the pony, the pony! Last night I was a little bit later than usual getting home from work, dog food run. The pony was doing her old cutting horse routine and running circles around the much larger TWH. Was moving the big mare this way and that and controlling her every movement. When she knew I was there she kicked into higher gear and had my poor walker spinning. The much younger, much larger horse couldn't out maneuver her. Made my heart really sing! For years I've mourned the fact that this little mare was only 11 hands.
It's the feed. I know it is. She looks just like she did as a teen except for the gray hairs on her face and mane.
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