Balanced Feeds with Low NSH, Higher Fat
So I have been looking into different feeds for horses that I know/own that are hard keepers. I will try to be to the point :) and hopefully I don't sound unintelligent, haha. I'm always into learning more, and will actually soon be taking an equine nutrition course.
Has anyone used Omegatin? In what situation (amount, what else were you feeding, age of horse, horse's overall condition)? With what results? Anyone have any other ideas to help put weight on a horse without adding more sugar/starch to their diet? I've kind of limited my feed search to what I know is readily available around us and I'd love to hear what other people feed and do some research into it.
We have an older horse that we care for and he started to become harder to keep when he came out of the winter this year. He was probably right at a 5 on the Henneke Scale, but now is borderline 4-5. I don't want to see him lose anymore weight, and would like him to gain some back! We tried adding hay with a higher nutrition content (he wouldn't eat it). Our normal hay is a grass/legume mix that is excellent in quality and maintains all of our other horses fantastically. We tried adding second cut (as opposed to 1st) and he wouldn't eat it, he'd pick out what he wanted then leave the rest. We tried going back to the first cut and adding an additional flake, but he wouldn't eat more... we tried taking out a flake of first and replacing it with alfalfa, he wouldn't eat it. He will eat only the first cut, and only what he wants! So, in addition to 4lbs of Dynasty Senior 2x a day, and 16-18lbs of day regularly, we added alfalfa pellets (which he eats, I think he thinks it is more grain, haha). He didn't gain weight, but he stopped losing. I don't want to add more Dynasty because it's got over 20% sugar/starch... he's already eating more of that than we'd like to see. I don't want to switch him to anything with a higher sugar/starch content than that, either.
From my research I've gleaned that more fat in his diet might help him gain, if I can find it in a form that he'll eat. I'm thinking that since he eats pellets already, perhaps switching out a portion of his normal grain with Omegatin (with sugar/starch content of just over 13%, so much lower than what he's already getting) might help fatten this guy up? The owner is supposed to be having his teeth floated soon (he is overdue and her vet did tell her he needs it every 6months, it is going on a year), and aside from that, we think that the horse's problem is mainly just because his age is catching up to him. We can't tell his digestion from his stools because his "grain" is in pelleted form, sooooooo... yeah. I do know that having his teeth done will help him get more benefit from his hay! He is also a regular wormer rotation.
My first thought was to switch him to Triple Crown Senior, but, alas, nobody around us carries it since they switched distributors (BOOOO!), even though their website claims several distributors will carry it: I called, they don't/won't. I figured the higher fat/lower starch would help him. BTW - her vet won't call us back and because I'm new to the whole equine nutrition in-detail thing (we've always just fed what our own vets recommended) I don't want to switch him and be incorrect. I've put in a call to her vet to see what he'd recommend, but he hasn't called back.
So, in addition to the Omegatin inquiery, what feeds do you guys give to your more aged, harder keepers. We do feed Omegatin to a young horse at our farm, but she came in on it, and so I don't know how well it works in general because before her, I hadn't heard anything about it.
Sorry for the uber-long post! Thanks everyone!
"Low NSH" intended to say "low NSC" haha. Sorry :/ I tried to edit the title and whatnot, but it wouldn't let me.
Oh - so, also, he gets about 4lbs of alfalfa pellets a day (so, 2lbs per feed, in addition to about 8lbs of hay and 4 lbs of dynasty per feed).
I'm no expert on nutrition, having studied it only roughly. But being a hcp & appreciating the various health probs of traditional feeding practice, I have looked into & have a fair idea of many aspects. Also I use a fantastic service/program called FeedXL.com, which has a good diet analysis program(which depending on where you are, also has every feed available to make your choices from) as well as nutritionists' brains to pick, as well as lots of articles & info on various aspects... such as feeding the older horse. It's also a cheap subscription to boot, so I highly recommend it, or some other(independent of feed co) similar service.
While the Kent feeds don't list ingredients, they appear to be grain based feeds, with the Dynasty also having added molasses, and while as they say, there are many feeds that are much higher in starch, 13% isn't really low either. Triple crown also has molasses and distillers grain(tho grain is low in the list indicating lower %) I would personally therefore be very hesitant about feeding any of the above. I would instead look for something that's low NSC as well as high in fat.
Eg. the Hygain Zero that I feed my boys as part of their supplement has no grain, let alone added sugar & is 1.5% starch, less than 5.5% total NSC. But that particular feed is not high fat(my boys def don't need it) and is also 15% protein, which depending on what else a horse gets(like alfalfa hay/pellets) and their age(older horses especially can have problems with too much protein), may be too much.
While you can get manufactured feeds high in fat, adding oil, or oil seed to feed is also one way of increasing fat content(they usually don't need much). Any vegetable oil will do, but cold pressed ones that are also high in fatty acids & omega 3s(such as flax/linseed) are good.
Your horse may also have tooth & other digestive issues to do with his age that prevent him being able to chew & digest hay. May be why he's picky with it. Chaff or pelleted hay(as opposed to straight lucerne pellets which may be too high in protein & some other nutrients) may be better for him at this stage than long stemmed forage.
Horses are also 'trickle feeders', evolved to eat poor quality(compared to traditional rich feeds & pasture) in tiny amounts, near constantly. They have small stomachs(about the size of ours) & quick metabolism and they don't do well with big, infrequent meals, especially when starchy. Even if pelleted, when large meals are given, food passes largely undigested through the stomach, which can wreak havoc on the hind gut & cause associated probs. So especially if you are going to continue with a high NSC diet, it's important to feed very small amounts in as many feeds daily as you can manage, to reduce severity & likelihood of issues and also to enable the horse to get the goodness out of the feed.
Hope all that's helped. I can forward you the article from FeedXL.com(yes, I have permission) on feeding older horses & other relevant stuff if you like too.
actually Kent feeds are NOT grain based feeds... they most of them do contain some corn...
the molasses in both Kent feeds and Triple Crown is used as a binder to hold the other stuff together normally around 3% per TON!!! so very very low.
to the OP: You would be better off going with a ratioin balancer and adding just plain Rice Bran instead of "wasting" money on OMagetin. I personally dont' like it and have seen better results with good balanced nutrition and rice bran with some alfalfa pellets as needed.
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