Grain Free - Yay or Neigh?
Grain Free - Yay or Nay?
Sorry for the pun - I couldn't resist. :)
Thought I would get some opinions regarding nutrition and possible benefits of feeding a grain free diet (if it's even possible).
Here's where I'm currently at:
My AQHA Gelding turns 11 tomorrow, but he moves like a 25 year old. Chiropractor/Acupuncturist said he's not out of alignment, but he is very stiff in the hock area. To compensate he had stopped working his entire back-end and his muscles from the rib cage back became very stiff. We're using stretches and exercise to loosen him up, but I'm wondering if a diet change would also help.
His current diet consists of all day turnout with an okay pasture (improving though), PA Grass hay - about 1/3 of a 50-ish lb bale (more during winter months) and 2 cups of Blue Seal Trotter 2x a day. He also gets Smartflex III & Tri Amino supplements. During the winter, I add Standlee Timothy pellets. There has been an improvement switching to Smartflex III a few months ago.
He is about 15 hands and around 1,050 lbs. He's a very easy keeper and could stand to lose a pound or 10. And he'll eat anything. His current workload is light. At most an hour a day trail riding with a bit of arena work. We don't show, we just putter around the farm. I pretend I'm a decent rider and he thinks he's Peppy San Badger reincarnated. :lol:
So has anyone had experience with an all forage diet? How did it work? Any ideas regarding cost? What does it usually consist of feeding?
Is there actual room for improvement with stiffness or arthritis? Or is that just something the salespeople talk about to get $$?
Let me know if any additional info is needed. I tried to think of the basics.
Please don't slaughter me if I'm doing something incorrectly. I'm still learning about all the nuances of nutrition and still have a long ways to go. Thanks in advance :oops:
Horses need forage and vitamins and minerals. Decent quality hay plus a 'ration balancer' aka vit/mineral supplement is pretty much all most horses need, especially easy keepers and horses in light or no work. It's really very simple, though we humans like to complicate it. Unless a horse is working hard enough that they can't eat enough grass/hay to keep their weight where it ought to be, it probably doesn't need any grain. Most complete feeds require you to feed 5-10 lbs/day to get enough vit/minerals, which is more than many/most horses can have without getting fat, so the ration balancers, designed to be fed at a pound or so a day are a better choice for easy keepers.
If your guy has joint issues, I'd probably keep up on the joint supplement and regular light exercise too.
have you had your horse checked by a real doctor ?
None of my horses have any grain at all.
It is a misnomer that every horse needs grain. I will admit that horses in hard work need grain, but most hard keepers need the hay amount/quality increased before grain is added to the diet. In most sweet feed, the necessary minerals and vitamins are diluted with grain (to add energy) and doused in molasses (to improve taste). Ration balancers are the minerals and vitamins before being diluted.
Grains in excess can lead to founder, acidosis or ulcers, so it is a good idea to go grain free and only add a small amount of oats if needed.
Thanks for the feedback. Yes the vet has been out...And I forgot to ask about the grain thing. I have to stop out next week so I'll be sure to ask. I wanted to get some info beforehand so I don't sound like an idiot when I ask him and didn't want to rely on one person's opinion alone.
Thanks for all the feedback. Did anyone have good results regarding stiff joints? He generally works out of stiffness when I work him for a while. The salesperson I talked to a while back was convinced that no horse would ever be stiff on this type of diet. Seems a bit of a tall tale to me. ;)
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Sharpie, don't say "no work" too loudly. Mater might take you up on that ;)
He prefers eating and napping to any form of physical activity. Lazy bum. At least he's cute.
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My horses are grain free with just a vit/mineral supplement. If they need more weight I go for soaked alfalfa pellets and/or a high-fat supplement over starchy grains.
Feed turmeric for stiff joints, excellent stuff.
My horse only gets a ration balancer. In the summer when I add electrolytes I put in some soaked Timothy pellets to mix the powder with otherwise he won't eat it.
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