Feeding a 2 - 3 year old.
I'm exploring the idea of bringing a younger horse into the herd, and while I'm confident in my abilities it's going to be an all around learning experience, including in regards to feed. My current horse is a fairly easy keeper, in the summer stays fat and healthy on a good hay and grass, in the winter is put on a grain supplement to keep his weight up. But I don't have experience feeding a younger horse and would like your opinions. I would like to be economical about it, obviously not at the expense of the gelding, and am exploring a bunch of different options right now.
He's two, coming three, and is currently on a 'complete' pellet and a handful of youth pellet, plus hay.
Is anybody familiar with the Viterra Step Right feeds? From what I gather 'step two' is targeted toward his age. I know beet pulp is hardly a good addition, we feed it (or a soy pellet, unfortunately I don't see it on the feed store website this year) in the winter just as something warm for them as a 'treat', but what about an alfalfa or timothy pellet? I'll admit to not knowing much about different feeds, I've always had extremely easy keepers and my parents have always avoided grain but now it's 'my horse my rules' :lol: and with growing horses I know they need all the nutrition they can get.
As a side note. His current owners said they picked him up as a rescue in September, so I'm wanting to be even more conscious about his nutrition.
The basis of all horses' diets should be forage- either hay or pasture. Free choice is ideal; hay can be put into a small mesh hay net to slow the horse down and minimize waste. Either way, you should feed 1.5-2.5% of the horse's body weight in forage daily. You can get your hay and/or pasture tested to determine its nutritional value, which would help you pick out the best additional feeds/supplements needed to create a complete nutritional plan.
For nutrition, a ration balancer is a good option. If you have an analysis of your hay/pasture, you can use a program like FeedXL.com to determine which brand of ration balancer or vit/min supplement best complements it. (I highly recommend FeedXL.com even if you don't have an analysis; you can always use one of the built-in profiles for hay)
Then if (and only if) your horse needs additional calories to stay in good condition, you can add beet pulp (which is actually a very good feed for horses), rice bran, or alfalfa to fill those needs. And since you have the additional calories as a separate non-grain part of the diet, you can easily and safely adjust it up or down depending on your horse's needs. Increased training? Up the calories. Injured and on stall rest? Decrease.
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