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MacabreMikolaj 03-02-2010 10:10 PM

Grain for the growing horse????
I get so confused. I need help.

I have firmly believed that grain is NOT necessary to horses. Matter fact, horses were never intended to eat grains, cannot eat them raw without having a toxic effect like humans, and have much higher instances of colic when fed a grain based diet and possibly even laminitis and diabetes. I understand why horses may need it when in serious competition - but in my experience, if your horse is grazing on rich pasture all summer and choice free fed hay in winter, you can ride the snot out of them daily and STILL fight the fat from building on them. In short - none of our horses have EVER "needed" grain.

Enter Jynxy. We were talking with her former owner Betty, who is absolutely APPALLED that I have stopped feeding Jynx grain. She was getting some massive bucket of Miracle Feed and oats and Complete Feed. No supplements, nothing fancy for young horses, just the same crap every other horse Betty owns eats. She was easily getting about 5lbs of grain twice a day plus free feed hay.

She looked like this when I bought her:

Now, as I said, I don't believe in feeding grain so when she moved to our place in May 2009, I stopped feeding her grain - we bought grain from Betty, and slowly cut her back to nothing along with the other horses that have been there.

According to Betty, it is IMPOSSIBLE for her to develop proper muscling that is necessary to her as an adult without grain. She says I MUST feed her grain, even if I can only feed her once every 2-3 days (ARE YOU INSANE WOMAN?!?!?!?!). Apparantly, I will RUIN her if I don't immediately start shoving her full of grain.

Jynx will be 3 years old in April. These are the photos of her since she's been with me. Is Betty right???? Or should I continue doing what I've always done??? This horse has grown FOUR INCHES in the NINE months I've owned her - all with just grass and hay.
Jynx in June/July
Jynx in June/July
Jynx in October
Jynx in February (now)
(ignore my disturbing face)

AM I GOING CRAZY??? I don't see anything wrong with this horse, and I don't understand how not feeding her grain when she turned 2 years old is going to stunt her for life and prevent me from "ever muscling her properly".

Am I wrong????????????????

dressagebelle 03-02-2010 10:43 PM

I read a great book called Understanding Equine Nutrition, by Karen Briggs. I agree that horses do not NEED grain to develop and grow right, or have the energy needed for moderate work. That said, obviously there are exceptions to the rule. Older horses who can no longer eat hay, horses in heavy competition, growing babies within reason, and horses that have a very hard time keeping weight on with hay alone. Horses systems were developed to get everything they needed nutrition wise out of their forage, and water. I think that she looks amazing even though you are no longer feeding her grain. Even if a horse NEEDED grain to grow right, she was getting fed way to much grain. As long as she doesn't start to show any signs of growth problems, lacking certain nutrients or vitamins or the like, then you should be fine feeding her what you've been feeding her. I feed my 4 year old 2 1/2 lbs of Omelene 300 right now, only because the hay where she is currently boarded is poor quality, and she's such a high energy horse, that hay alone is not enough for her to have the energy needed to grow, as well as run around and exercise. The grain has definately helped her start growing right, but I would not say that she needs it to survive. I would continue what you are doing, and ignore, or try to explain to the lady why you are doing what you are doing, and that its working just fine.

kevinshorses 03-03-2010 12:07 AM

You can force a horse to grow faster with more grain but it will not grow taller than it's genes says to. I have raised several foals and except at weaning time for a few weeks I never feed grain to any of them. All have grown up fine but it may take untill they are four to finish growing which is fine with me since I wait that long to ride them usually.

Peggysue 03-03-2010 09:24 AM

i'ts really not about the grains so much as the nutrition. Most hays and pastures have imblances which can have effect on the growth of your babies.

I dont' feed grains but I do feed a ration balancer to compliment my hay/pasture and assist with balancing it

Jacksmama 03-03-2010 09:41 AM

I don't know if its an option but you might have your hay and pasture tested to see if there is anything she could be missing. Here in Indy we are Selenium deficient so it's important to make sure they are getting it somewhere. I agree with you, they don't need grain really and if you're not careful you can harm them because it can force they to grow faster than their body can accomodate, just make sure she is getting balanced nutrition and you should have no problems.

luvs2ride1979 03-03-2010 12:43 PM

I do not believe horses need grain either. But, I do think most need some mineral and vitamin supplements, to balance out their diet. Sure, most horses will do fine without them, but adding some extra nutrition to a horse's diet can give a horse more "bloom".

We got one in that never ate grain. He was in fine shape, not fat, a bit thinner than I like, but not thin. He didn't have much muscle, much mane or tail, and his coat was "lackluster" (growing in a winter coat, so I didn't expect much shine, but it was just "dull"). After putting him on our diet, which consists of free choice mixed grass hay, alfalfa pellets, vitamins, and an Omega 3 supplement (we don't have any grazing), he has gotten a LOT more muscle tone, his mane/tail is growing (he's an Appy with a rat tail! lol), and his winter coat finished coming in much softer. His feet are also growing out nicer and we were able to take his shoes off with good success.

I now have my horses on ADM's StaySTRONG pellets, which are a concentrated vit/min feed. You only give 1 lb a day. I still add some alfalfa pellets to my working horses, but I feed a lot less. I am using Uckele's Cocosoya for Omegas and some fat on one "hard keeper" I now have.

If you don't want to "feed" anything, you can offer free choice minerals in a mineral feeder. Horses will eat as much as they need. ADM makes a good one, "GROSTRONG Minerals". It comes in granular form or a block.
Minerals and Vitamins for horses.htm

There are lots of other free choice minerals out there too. Just start googling! ;-)

smrobs 03-03-2010 02:48 PM

I am right there with you. I honestly believe that most grains do more damage than good. Too many people think that it is okay that their horse is fed a diet consisting mostly of some form of grain or sweet feed and just give hay as a filler, IMHO, they have it bass ackwards. I honestly believe that is the cause of so many cases of colic, founder, cushings, etc. My horses are fed free choice alfalfa and we haven't had a case of colic since we quit feeding sweet feed about 15 years ago. Never had a case of founder or cushings. All our horses stay plump (bordering on fat) and healthy. A little out of shape but that is lack of riding, not so much improper feeding. Jynx looks incredibly healthy and appears to be filling out wonderfully. L2R is right, if you fear that she is lacking in her diet, the safer route would be to give her access to loose minerals or mineral block.

MacabreMikolaj 03-03-2010 04:24 PM

Thanks guys.

As a note, we do have all THREE type mineral blocks in the pasture, in the hay feeder where everyone has access. We have three more on backup when these run out. I never remember what mineral essential each one is, but it's a blue one, a red one and a light brown one. The white ones are for cattle.

My issue is that, with our setup, it's impossible to feed grain. The idea of feeding a horse grain once every 2-3 days is just OUTRAGEOUS to me. We've started feeding some beet pulp (1/2 cup dry) with sliced carrots and apples as a treat, but we've mostly cut grain out entirely after hearing about the horrors of how it actually affects humans, cows and horses and how it's killing an entire nation.

I have NEVER seen an issue with horses living on grass and hay, especially if they were raised on it. I wouldn't avoid supplements or grains if my horse needed it, but I don't believe for an instant that grain can provide a 3 year old horse something to improve it's maturity that good alfalfa mixed hay and grass with mineral blocks can't.

Within two weeks of Zierra being at Betty's, her back legs were stocked 24/7 from standing in a paddock and being fed mass amounts of grain twice a day. I have never experienced colic in my life. In my opinion, grain leads to nothing but trouble unless you know EXACTLY what you're doing with it.

I will continue as I am. Jynx looks absolutely fine to me, and her stamina has improved tenfold from when I brought her home so I must be doing SOMETHING right!

wild_spot 03-03-2010 05:03 PM

Jynx looks awesome - Don't change what you are doing!

Grain has been shown to cause a myriad of issues when fed to developing horses. It is an overload of starch and sugars and does their growing bodies no good. If they do need something extra (most don't) then there are safer alternatives.

I'm with you - All my horses are on pasture and get supplemented with hay in winter. I compete Bundy a lot, and he is always fat! We have issues with getting weight off, never with keeping it on.

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