Help, I need a better diet...
I have 3 totally difftent types of horses. I have two 3yo's, one is an air fern and the other.....uses his calories, and one 17 yo that seems to be a hard keeper. I have been caring for horses my whole life and dont have a problem with sweet feed per say, but I do know there are better things out there.
My feed plan has a good amount of sf in it and I would like to get them on a better diet. Please give some thoughts on ration balancers, Ive done some research, but Im not sure what is avaliable to me. I can get stuff from TSC and I also have access to Kent products.
Everyone is on turnout and have free choice hay. These feed schedules are broke down into 2 feedings.
How would YOU feed my horses?
Char, 17 yo, high energy, rarely used, semi hard keeper. She is a big girl...easy 17 hands. She is getting 9qts of kent senior and 3 qts of sweet( just to break up the senior...its much stickier than the sf?!) I also add 1/2 cup cocosoya and 1 scoop of omegatin. She seems to be at an ok weight now, but I know it could be better.
Cole, 3yo, high energy, in training. Saddlebreds are a late growing breed and I am concerned about bone and joint development. Also gonna be a big guy, 16 hands now...I expect him to get 16.2 - 17 hands.
He is was getting 3 scoops a day of sf when I got him. I have switched him to 2 scoops of mare and foal ( neturena) and a scoop of sweet to get him to eat the powdered vit's.
And.....the air fern
Suzie, 3yo arab, in training
She is getting 1 1/2 sweet feed a day. She was thin when I got her, but that was a while ago. She also has issues with rain rot, from my research, Ive learned this may be from a copper deficintcy?
They all also have access to a mineral block, but I know it may not be enough.
Any thoughts would be greatly appriciated.
In a lot of cases, once you get proper nutrition to them, they don't end up being as hard of a keeper as you thought.
I am a firm believer in RB's. I feed one and honestly, my horses have never looked better or felt better. I have noticed a HUGE improvement/change, especially this winter. BUT, a RB may may not be right for EVERY horse.
If I were you, I would TRY a quality RB and see what happens.
*Work op to these amounts slowly of course*
I would start Char on 1.5lbs of a RB (My recommendation is Buckeye Gro N Win, but Purina Enrich 32 is comparable and is Purinas best product). I would work up to 4lbs of soaked alfalfa pellets (weighed before soaking). about 2 1/2 cups of GnW = 1lb
about 2 cups of alfalfa pellets = 1lb
I would start Cole on 1.5lbs of RB as well and maybe 2lbs of alfalfa pellets.
I would start Suzie on 1lb of RB.
Keep them on free choice hay. If you find that any of them are gaining too much weight, then back off on the alfalfa pellets. If they arent' maintaining weight or you want weight gain and are not getting it, increas the alfalfa.
Other things you can add would be up to 1cup of flax per horse per day as well. Flax is very high in omega 3.
I knew there were better ways to feed. Its soo complicated. Im not a health nut for myself, and I have been feeding this way for years. But I felt so lost as to where to start. I started to become more concerned when the senior feed that I was getting 'improved formulas'. It was like a brick comming out of the bag and just didnt seem better, just stickier.
I have a small tsc and the do carry purina, but I dont think they carry the enrich32 product. I will look up the Buckeye, to see if there are any distributers around here.
I also have issues with rain rot on Suzie. Ive had her 2 fall/winters now, and she had it when I got her. I was doing some reading on it and found that some belive that a deficintcy (?) of copper, I belive, plays a role.
Thanks so much for your thoughts.
Equine nutrition really isn't complicated at all =) Here is the basic over view.
Here are some things to remember:
1. Nutrition & calories are not the same thing. Every horse NEEDS the nutrition. Not all horses NEED the extra calories.
2. Forage is an essential part of the horses diet. Theie digestive tracks are made to eat constantly. They need a min of 2% of their body weight in forage daily. Free choice is even better. If your horse is too fat, then feed 2% of the DESIRED body weight per day. If you need more calories (if your horse needs to gain weight) then always try upping the hay/forage intake before adding more of a hard feed ("grain")
3. You want to go with the lowest NSC (starch & sugar) amount available. High NSC's are not healthy for the digestive track in a horse and are a big cause of ulcers. Horses with issues such as IR, founder, etc must have a diet low in NSC. Whole grains such as corn, oats, barley, etc are very high in NSC. You're highest NSC feeds are always sweet feeds.
4. Ration Balancers are highly concentrated and therefore are designed to be fed at a much smaller rate (usually 1lb for average horses). Do not be fooled that they cost more per bag than a "traditional feed" b/c you are feeding a much smaller amout so in turn, they are usually cheaper.
5. There is nothing wrong with feeding no hard feed at all if your horse is an easy keeper or gets fat easily. It is perfectly acceptable to feed a vit/min supplement alone instead of a hard feed. BUT, know that vit/min supplemets do not have the needed amino acids like a RB does. That is the main defference between a RB and a vit/min supplement. If you choose to use the supplement on your easy keeper, then you need to add an amino acid supplement such as Tri-Amino by Uckele.
6. Do not confuse "texturized" feeds with sweet feed. Just because the feed is texturized and looks similar to sweet feed does not make it a sweet feed.
7. Pay attention to the ingrediant lists. If you see corn, oats, etc then its going to be a higher NSC. The ingrediants in horse feed are also listed like human fod and dog food. The most prevelant ingrediants come first on the list.
8. Always read the feeding directions on the bag. If you are feeding less than the recommended amount, then your horse is lacking in nutrition. If X says feed 6-7lbs per day for a 1,000lb horse in light work and you are only feeding 3 lbs b/c your horses is an easy keeper, then you need to consider something like a RB. Less calories, more nutrition. If you are feeding 10lbs of X b/c your horse is a hard keeper, then you are OVER doing it (nutritionally) and you need to either add more forage and decrease the hard feed or go to a feed with more fat. If more hay and the recommended amout were still not kepping your horse at the desired weight and you cannot switch feeds, then add more calories in the form of alfalfa pellets or cubes.
Here are some feed comparisons:
Buckeye Safe n Easy pellets have an NSC of 12.5%. This is a very good feed.
Buckeye Gro N Win RB has an NSC of 13%. This is a very good RB. Purina Enrich 32 is comparable to the Gro N Win and is very similar. This is Purina best product.
Purina Strategy has an NSC of 30%. This is VERY high. Too
Nutrena Safe Choice has an NSC of 23%. Still high, but a better choice than say Strategy.
OFH, this is a great response.
If you see some typos, I appologize. I was in a hurry =)
Typos are fine. That was a fantastic post. I know all that info is here, but its all over and hard to find sometimes. I know Ill be back to re read and ingrain it in my lil head. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
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