Roughage, complete feeds and supplements, oh my!
I’m going to apologize in advance for the sheer length of this post… I’m in the final few weeks before my Heart Horse comes home and I’m trying to create a feed plan for her. I’ve been researching like crazy and Googling like a mad woman and all I’ve accomplished so far is a headache. The more I read, the more confused I get and I feel like I’m spinning in circles. I’m hoping someone can help me a bit, maybe point me in the right direction.
The Horse: Vanna is a 16 year old Standardbred mare. She raced as a youngster and then spent the next decade as a broodmare. She is in decent shape, but needs to be conditioned. She also has a bit of a hay belly going on. She is up to date on all her vaccinations and deworming. Her current diet includes free choice grass, hay and some grain. She lives outside year round. As far as I know, her teeth are in good shape and she doesn't have trouble with hay, cubes, or grains.
Her Activity Level: Currently, she is pasture fit and spends her days ambling around a field. Very, very occasionally, she is hooked to a cart and driven around. When she arrives at my barn, she will be moved to an individual run for a month-long quarantine period and then into a semi-private pasture with 2 geldings. Her activity level will be increased gradually as she transitions from a broodmare to a riding horse. I plan to walk and trot her at increasing increments as she is able, and gradually add hill work and trails to the routine. At any given time, her activity level will be considered light to moderate, never heavy.
Goals to Accomplish: The ideal diet plan will help maintain her body condition and weight year round. I do not want her to become overweight, but I do not want her to be underweight either. I want her to look like a well-loved pleasure horse, with a shiny coat, healthy hooves and a balanced appearance. I would like to keep her in optimum health, prevent joint pain and reduce any existing arthritis symptoms she might have.
Available Feed: Once she arrives at my barn, she will be provided hay and free choice grass. I’m almost positive that the hay isn’t the best quality, so I wish to provide alternate roughage for her in addition to the provided hay. I am open to complete feeds as well. After much thought, I have created two diet plans for your review. Please modify them however you wish, but explain why; I would like to learn.
Option #1: Alfalfa hay cubes and grain, with free choice hay/grazing
Equine Choice - Aurora Wind Feeds Equine Choice Probiotics
HorseSTART - http://www.kenpal.on.ca/downloads/ho...RTBrochure.pdf
FrontRunner Phase 5 Senior - Front Runner - Phase Five
FrontRunner Cool Command - Front Runner - Phase One
If she was your horse, what would YOU feed?
My horses are on pasture (hay in winter). I also give them Life Data's Barn Bag, which is a pelleted feed concentrate for horses on mainly a forage diet. I'm feeding about 1/2 cup. I also give whole oats....the amount depends on their condition and how much work they're doing. I am having very good results.
I've never fed alfalfa and don't know anything about the other stuff you posted. But I agree, horse nutrition can be very confusing!
I would reccomend option 1- but I would change it just a bit.
Alfalfa hay cubes and grain, with free choice hay/grazing
. In addition to the roughage, I would like to add a top dressing of Equine Choice probiotic mix to maintain proper gut movement and beneficial bacteria, and HorseSTART mineral supplement for pleasure horses.
Mine (note: it is written as if I were you- this is not my plan :-) ):
the season and how often I ride would determine how much alfalfa/grain i feed , for example, in winter maybe a little more afalfa, and in summer maybe because you have more riding time(and at least here the grass dies). I would be careful with feeding the alfalfa, and wont feed more than about the equivalent of half a flake. (I only feed my horse half a flake of alalfa when she works hard!). In addition to the roughage, I would like to add a top dressing of Equine Choice probiotic mix to maintain proper gut movement and beneficial bacteria, and HorseSTART mineral supplement for pleasure horses, but would be careful with mineral usage in spring and fall, espically spring,(but grass DOES get green in fall to!) as the grass has more nutrients in it.
I hope it helps! And well, dont feed to much aflafa as #1 as you might know some horses dont process it as well and therefore get "hot" from it. #2 its quite high in calcuim- therefore good for younger growing horses and broodmares- and basically has no phosphorous, which can be very detrimental to the horses health. Oh and, be careful with those probiotics, make sure it isnt like chemicals- try to be as natural as possible for your horse.
~PLEASE send me a message if you have more questions! : ) ~
What makes you think the barn hay is poor quality?
you said she is 16, what about a senior feed or supplement and i would definitely add a joint supplement because of how she raced when she was younger and was used as a broodmare for ten years. Thats a lot of foals and a ton of extra weight she carried around for ten years on top of how she used to race.
safergrass.org & FeedXL.com are great resources for diet & nutritional advice. So sympathise that the more you read, the more confused you get! There are just so many different & conflicting opinions out there & of course every feed company wants you to beleive you need to buy their feed... So that's why I think it's important to learn from an actual equine nutritionist who is independent of feed co's. FeedXL.com is actually the program I use to take the headache & confusion out of it & it's great to have a qualified nutritionist on call to ask questions of!
Basically horses being evolved as 'trickle feeders', eating high fibre, low starch/sugar roughage, tend to do best on that sort of diet. Grass hay/grass is about the best 'staple' for them & if they're healthy & not in hard work, they don't tend to need much more in the way of calories. If they do, alfalfa, beet pulp, soy bean meal & such are generally appropriate & safer alternatives for extra energy as opposed to grains & molassesy feed, which being high starch/sugar, can be bad news for a horse's digestive system - & also their feet.
So I'd start with hay & grass & add a good (grain free) complete nutritional supp or 'ration balancer' and add extra high fibre, low 'GI' feed only if necessary. Remember if she's not a high octane performance horse, like a race horse or endurance horse or such, don't feed her like one. If you do find she needs extra energy & grains & such may be in order, it's especially important to make sure it's fed little & often rather than only a couple or so big, infrequent meals daily.
Dietery needs have to be adjusted periodically. I understand that by feeding 1/4 cup of soybean meal can help get rid of the big belly. I agree about feeding senior's, since it is designed for the older horse. it contains beet pulp, probiotics and extra oils. Dampening the pellets a bit makes them easier to eat and less chance of choke. I would recommend you start her out on the grass and hay that's available then as you begin her conditioning program, add to her feed if she starts to lose weight. It's best to keep it simple to start or you may be making expensive poop.
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