Mustang Yearling Nutrition
So... I have actually spent the last two or three hours researching all that I can on horse nutrition; and I'm not really all that closer to knowing what to give my boy. I need advice!
My boy is a yearling mustang colt whom I recently adopted. He's been primarily eating alfalfa hay without any additional supplementation. His weight is great / fantastic / just where it needs to be without being on the pudgy side. My only concern is making sure that he is getting the appropriate amounts of protein, vitamins and minerals, etc. Also, he's been rather runny in the poo department... so I'm planning to get him on some sort of probiotic or something.
So, given that he doesn't appear to need a lot of feed for the calories aspect, I think it would be best to give him a ration balancer as opposed to mare/foal feed. Is that okay?
Here's a diet that I'm trying to decide will work or not:
-2-3 pounds daily of Elenbaas Equiscience Equibalance (Elenbaas)
- 1 oz of Horse Guard (Horse Guard Details)
- 1 oz of Gut Guard (Bacterial Yeast Inoculant Details)
The Equibalance feed has a relatively high level of protein, which I think should give him the protein he needs... however according to the research I've done, it falls short in providing the amount of Selenium needed for horses in my area. Thus, I am considering giving him a half dose of Horse Guard which is a highly concentrated mineral/vitamin supplement to cover the difference. The Horse Guard already has some probiotics and digestive aids in it, however considering the severity of the runs my colt has been having, I thought I'd give him some of the Gut Guard in addition... at least until he reestablishes a healthy system.
My main concern is, will giving a half dose of Horse Guard in addition to the Equibalance risk "overdosing" him?
First thing is to get to the root cause of the cow pies. Most likely it's related to the alfalfa. It's not going to matter how much pre and probiotic you give him. If he's sensitive to it, he will never form regular apples on his own. You can substitute some of the alfafla with grass. Play around with it. If he recently came off the range or you just got him, that could be the cause and just needs time to settle in and adjust.
Hay alone will not supply everything he needs and you might also be doing a little bit of catching up so some type of vitamin/mineral supplementation is needed. Figure out his hay first as that will change what you need to add. As far as the other products you are feeding 50% of the required amounts so you won't be "overdosing" him except for maybe the Se. Se is one trace mineral that is easily overdosed. He needs about .1mg/kg of feed so a good range is between .6 and 1.2 mg. 1 oz of HG alone provides 1.5 mg. Add the amount in the other product plus the hay and you're probably at 2x the recommened amount.
Do you have a lot of alfalfa hay from the same supplier? If you do, I would have a hay analysis done on that batch so you know what levels you're starting with and then supplement from there. From what I've read, most alfalfa is 15-18% protein - which is great for a young, growing horse.
I feel that the Equibalance is a bit too high in protein to be used in conjunction with an alfalfa based diet. If you look at these tables from OSU (Horse Nutrition, Bulletin 762-00, Tables) it says that yearlings only need a rations with 11.5 - 13.5% protein. The alfalfa should be providing him with everything he needs, protein wise.
If he was my horse, I would look into a multi vitamin MADE to be used with alfalfa based diets. SmartPak has a line of supplements for this (they include selenium, too) - http://www.smartpakequine.com/horse-...ents-13pc.aspx.
Horseguard is also more Selenium than I would be comfortable giving. According to thehorse.com (The Horse | Selenium: A Balancing Act) the average 1000lb horse needs 20mg/day. Horseguard is 24mg. Horses definitely need Selenium, but too much is a baaaaad thing - I would talk to your vet about this one and have your hay tested (especially if it isn't locally grown). If he does need to be supplemented, SmartPak has some Vitamin E & Selenium-only supplements that could be helpful.
I don't see a problem with the Gut Guard. It should help firm up his manure, even if you don't use it in conjunction with the Horse Guard.
We are going to start adding a bit more grass hay and less alfalfa over the next couple of weeks to see if that helps his runny poo, however I think that given the amount of stress he's undergone lately it probably isn't unlikely that he could benefit from probiotics etc to "kickstart" his system back into a regular functioning. The Gut Guard is something that we'll only be giving temporarily until he's better settled and has a well-established feed routine.
The research that I have done indicates that in my area, horses need 3 mg of Selenium daily... so theoretically 1.3 mg in the Equibalance and 1.5 mg in the Horse Guard would be just about perfect. Here in the northwest, Selenium is essentially nonexistant in our hay or grass.
Thank you so much for your response; it has been very helpful. I was worried that no one would reply since I've written so much and gotten so specific. :D
I missed the per pound thing initially too. >_<
The links you've provided are very helpful though; thank you!
If he's being fed alfalfa, I can nearly promise you that he doesn't need more protein. I agree with finding out exactly what is causing the sloppy poo, whether it's stress or diet change or a reaction to the alfalfa and fix that instead of just loading him up on all those supplements and treatments.
I would be willing to bet that the alfalfa is quite a bit richer than his belly is able to handle and that's what's causing it. He probably grew up eating scrub brush and yucca plants so I think that a switch to grass hay will likely do him good. After his guts get settled, you can start adding a bit of alfalfa back in again so that he can adjust better and still get the added protein and minerals that alfalfa has over grass hay.
At most, other than the hay, I would give him either a mineral block or loose equine minerals (free access) to make up for any deficiencies that may exist in your area, like selenium.
Overfeeding a yearling can cause just as many problems as underfeeding them and I prefer to air on the side of caution.
So, it sounds like he doesn't actually need the Equibalance according to what some of you are saying about protein requirements.
Thus, could he be fed a grass hay / alfalfa diet and just get a regular dose of HorseGuard to cover the rest of the vitamins and minerals?
That's what I think. For your average yearling, it is suggested that they have a feed with ~10% protein. Good alfalfa generally runs 15%+.
As for the horsegard, that's your choice. Me, personally, I much prefer giving them access to minerals so that they can take what they want when they feel like they want it.
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