Hay Analysis Says Hay is Yuck
I moved to a new barn less than one week ago and I asked the BO for a hay analysis, which her supplier had (woo-hoo!). I marched it on down to my equine nutritionist (who I lovingly call my cowboy nutritionist b/c of the great stories he tells me about being a cowboy since 1951) and he said the hay is not good.
I will spare you the entire analysis and get to the main points: the protein is only 5%, and he would like to see 8-10% and the calcium is "a trace" - barely enough to even make a difference he said. So, God bless him he kept me there for 2 hours while he worked up a customized feeding plan to get Jazzy a balanced diet. I had to get the label of the feed the BO currently uses (purina horsemen's edge?) so he could input that and then we'd move ahead with changes.
Today the BO said she wanted to know if I would consider putting Jazzy on pellets b/c in her opinion, jazz didn't need much feed b/c she was getting good hay (gulp). I told her we'd talk more this weekend b/c I didn't want to get distracted just as I was walking in to work Jazzy.
Jazz is certainly not worked hard, she is still young, she is good on weight and not overweight, but she is a little more energetic and maybe that is the sweet feed -
Anyone else make diet changes that required revamping a diet or removing grain... just curious as, like most things, this is a new challenge for me.
I base my nutritional program around hay. My horses only get feed in order to supplement whatever vitamins/minerals may be deficient in their hay. Oh, and the 26 y/o gets additional beet pulp in the winter to help him maintain his weight.
I'd deep six the sweet feed; it's junk. Get your horse on a nutritionally complete pellet instead. One not grain-based, if possible.
Didn't the BO ask what you had found out about the hay? odd if she didn't. You could bring it up to her.
Amazing isn't it what you get when you test the hay? It can look good and be such complete crap.. fiber more than anything else...
I would be more inclined to supplement with alfalfa cubes and maybe a complete pellet than with sweet feed. Don't know if you have a local Cooperative Extension Service but some there will also help you balance rations (though most feed companies will too).
I know, looks can be deceiving that is for sure.
She uses a complete pellet - and that is what she is asking me to try...
I wish I could get a hay analysis for the hay at my barn, but they don't already have an analysis from any of their suppliers (and with a 76 stall barn... they have several). Even if I had an analysis from each one, I wouldn't know which hay was being fed at any given time, as it all depends on which stack they pull from that day. So, I have to go by average hay values and hope that it's good enough :?
I'm already bought-in to the barn's hay through next summer, so I won't be buying my own anytime soon. I'm thinking next year I'll get my own so I can know what's in it. I'm hoping that one supplier will also mean more consistent flake sizes... the flakes I've weighed have been anywhere from 2 to 6 lbs, so I'm never quite sure how much my horse is actually getting on any random day. Some feeders will feed 2 flakes per feeding when they're small, some will split the big flakes in half :sigh:
Verona, I saw the size of the flakes the new barn has and they are huge compared to the ones from the old barn - I kind of chuckled that there was actually hay left.
I couldn't get a hay analysis at my old place b/c he used multiple suppliers, so it wouldn't have really been economical nor could I imagine changing up a feeding regimen based on each new analysis... yikes. (I'm sure it can be done, but ehhhh for me anyway).
Well, I have to TOTALLY DISAGREE with your great nutritionist. It has been years since I have fed any grass hay that was not mature and under 6% protein. Mature grass hay (actually any grass hay) is always low in Calcium (Ca). That is the main reason we feed the mineral we do free choice.
Out of 300 round bales I've bought this year, 40 were over 5% protein (some has been 3%) and I have kept the higher protein ones for the babies.
Weanlings, yearlings and fast growing 2 year olds need more protein. I add a little soybean meal to the weanlings' grain. Mature horses not only do not need it, it is really not very good for them -- especially the very old ones.
Excess protein must be eliminated from a horse in the form of amonia. That is why barns that feed alfalfa smell so strong when you open them up in the morning. Mature grass hay that is only 3 or 4% protein works just fine for mature horses. It also works fine for horses that need more protein as you can supply the extra protein they need by using a small amount of alfalfa or 1/2 to 1 pound of soybean meal a day. Soybean meal has a much more complete amino acid profile (particularly by supplying more Lysine) than even alfalfa does.
Unless you are feeding a good loose mineral that supplies a lot more Ca than it does Phosphorus (P), your horse's diet is always deficient in Ca when feeding ANY grass hay. Grain products are also all low in Ca, so no matter what kind you feed, you need a good loose mineral. A good loose mineral will also supply most of the extra Vitamin A you need to keep horses healthy in the winter, early spring and when hay is older than 3 or 4 months old.
Herdof2. I hope that cowboy nutritionist friend of your has a degree in equine nutrition. A key component of a horse's diet is fiber, not hard feeds. If you are so concerned about your horse getting everything you think she needs, have your vet do bloodwork.
Equine nutrition is new to me in this regard, do bear with me. I'm first relieved to know that the protein content is similar to other hay. He does have his equine nutrition degree, & isn't a fan of feed as the diet staple, but says we build around hay. He did explain the phosphorus/calcium proportion, but again, applying this to adjust her diet is above my head per se. The new BO suggested the complete pellet to at least ditch the sweet feed she's currently on.
I just want a healthy horse who has what she needs to grow...
PS- if someone wants to recommend I how can learn more = books, articles, I will gladly do so
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