determining optimal feed balance for your horse? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 5 Old 02-07-2012, 08:07 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: AZ
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determining optimal feed balance for your horse?

Folks, forgive me if i ask something thats been asked a thousand times before.
In building your nutritional regimen for your horses, what considerations do you factor in to ensure they receive the best nutritional value?
I am attempting to have at least a concept of understanding this sort of equation, before i go down that road and actually own a horse, and have to get a crash course.
Is there a rule of thumb? So many pounds of hay per so many pounds of horse?
I was perusing the local feed store, and was really blown away by the sheer variety and different types of horse feed!
Oats, barley, rice, corn, sweet something, hay bales that looked like they had been squished in a trash compactor into mini-bales, pellets, and so forth.
Where to start?
Any good ideas for a basic startup menu the horse would appreciate and enjoy?
I'm pretty sure if i showed up with a pepperoni pizza, the horse would be MORE than happy to help me munch on it, but i also am pretty sure it isnt the best thing in the world for him!
Starting point suggestions?
azwantapaint is offline  
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post #2 of 5 Old 02-07-2012, 08:48 PM
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You will always start with what type of forage (hay and pasture) is avalable to you. In AZ, your diet will typically evolve around alfalfa, maybe some bermuda and if you're extra lucky some grass pasture. The quality and % of each is your next consideration. Feeding horses can be as complicated or as simple as you make it;.
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post #3 of 5 Old 02-07-2012, 08:51 PM
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First, Kudos to you for thinking ahead on what a proper feeding regimen should be

That's the easy part because it can vary from horse-to-horse

1. Type of living environment (lots of pasture to run and graze, on a dry lot with no grass, in a stall much of the time, etc.)

2. Type of job the horse will have.

My horses don't get ridden anymore and are on a diet based on my two horses with metabolic issues. They all eat the same base feed because it's healthier for them; the variation starts when I have to add in to accommodate insulin issues and arthritis.

Therefore, it's much easier for me to hand mix everyone's feed; they eat the same but different

If you only plan on doing light work with the horse such as mild trail riding or showing in pleasure classes as opposed to hunter/jumper, reining, etc where the training and classes are intense, your future horse should be able to do well on nothing more than a grain-free ration balancer.

Ration balancers are NOT meant to be fed with bagged feed as they already have vitamins and minerals in them.

They are meant for horses who eat hay and/or grass.

Nutrena makes Empower, Purina makes Enrich 32, Triple Crown makes Safe Starch, just to name some of the top brands.

Don't feed your horse "cheap" just to save money up front on a bag of feed; in the long term it may very well cost you in terms of the horse's health.

Hope this helps some; I'm sure others will come in with their thoughts
walkinthewalk is offline  
post #4 of 5 Old 02-07-2012, 09:01 PM
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In general, a horse will eat between 1-3% of their body weight in hay, per day. More if they are hard keepers, and less if they are easy keepers. Beyond that the important things to offer are water, loose minerals and salt.
It is important to get your hay tested for nutritional value as well. A very high protien/sugary hay will not be suitable for older horses, or horses with metabolic issues and prone to founder. As well, you will need to adjust the amount of hay given if they are on pasture.

In my opinion, most horses can sustain themselves on hay, minerals and water. The only time you need to add calories is if the horse is a very hard keeper, has an underlying medical issue or is in hard work. In those cases it is important to add hard feed carefully. I personally like beet pulp, rice bran and ration balancers based with either of these two ingredients or soy bean hulls. Any other ingredients are too sugary or startchy for most horses. Some horses under extreme work loads will require some grains for the extra energy, but it is not likely that most people will ever own a horse who requires a grain in his diet.

Feeding horses is very simple if you keep it simple and add the right ingredients only if they are needed.

Good luck!

They say money doesn't buy happiness -- well happiness doesn't buy horses!
~*~anebel~*~ is offline  
post #5 of 5 Old 02-07-2012, 09:22 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: AZ
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It merits mention that ideally, my horse will work lightly during the week, as i work long hours 4 days a week, but weekends i expect we'll be training and trail riding.
Ultimately, i hope to hunt with my horse, getting back into the deep back country where the big boys are.
The pasture is barren most of the year, except spring and early summer when the rains come, and things green up for a while.
My best horse prospect is a bit on the skinny side, and will need some trimming out to put back some mass on him.
My girl is suggesting rolled barley and rice bran as additives to an alfalfa hay diet to beef him up, and once he gets new shoes on his feet, perhaps a hoof adjunct. But, first things first- fix his feet up with new shoes and see how he does.
What are the inherent benefits of the grains and such?
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