What suppliments do horses really need? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 29 Old 12-14-2019, 03:34 PM Thread Starter
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Question What suppliments do horses really need?

Hey y'all I just have a question. What are the suppliments that horses need to stay healthy or do they even need any to stay balanced and healthy. I am fairly new to the whole horse nutrition thing and I am totally unsure about this question. There are alot of different oppinions about this issue and I was wondering what you guys think. Thx!!
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post #2 of 29 Old 12-14-2019, 03:45 PM
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I am NOT an equine nutritiontist! Please take what I say with a big fat grain of salt.

At the very least, they need salt, zinc, copper, vitamin A and E and maybe cobalt and manganese if those aren't already present in your soil or water. They can also benefit from selenium if you have none in your soil or hay (this is something your dept of Agriculture can tell you about). Also, some form of oil is good for them - a lot of people provide flax seed (ground, not whole because the whole ones tend not to get chewed and are passed whole) for this purpose. Other oils do not have the good omega fats and oxidize too quickly to be beneficial. Some people also feed biotin for the hooves, but I'm not convinced it's necesssary. Hemp oil and camelina oil are good things to add as well.

I believe in keeping things simple so I have a custom-mix mineral supplement which I mix with beet pulp (no molasses) and timothy hay cubes (you can get timothy-alfalfa, but most horses don't need alfalfa which has higher protein), and feed hay and plain white salt (even my salt licks are plain white). Because what you DON'T feed is, in my humble opinion, just as important as what you DO feed. I don't want to feed any extras or fillers my horses don't need and which could even be harmful. I don't want to feed iron because we have too much iron in our soil, water and hay, and too much iron is very bad for horses.

But I am not an equine nutritionist. I am just trying to learn as much as I can and I don't want to buy pre-mixed feeds or ration balancers because they are a one-size-fits-all option, but not all horses are the same.

So I start with a hay analysis and build from there, working with an equine nutritionist. Just knowing what they minerals they need isn't enough because there are ratios you need to follow for proper absorption of minerals. Equine nutritionists don't charge a lot, a hay analysis is very cheap (about 30$) and then you have a plan that is adapted to your horse and your environment.
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post #3 of 29 Old 12-14-2019, 06:03 PM
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They can get 'enough' from basic forage, as in horses aren't dropping dead because they don't get extra supplements. If you want optimum health and performance then you get into needing to know deficiencies. A basic vit/min supplement or balancer formulated for your horses living situation (grass vs alf,ect). If your horse only gets hay, they should be getting vitamin E as well since it degrades quickly once hay is cut.
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post #4 of 29 Old 12-14-2019, 06:08 PM
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I feed good quality Teff hay.

I feed a ration balancer (Triple Crown 30%) to fill in any missing vitamins or minerals, because hay is always going to vary a bit based on soil, cutting and other growing conditions.

I also add a little bit of rice bran for omega 3 & 6 fats. They also have a Redmond rock salt in their stall.

All four of our horses are well muscled, healthy and super shiny! They all have strong, hard hooves, as well.

The answer to your question really depends on what nutrients your hay is providing, and that can vary from bale to bale, stack to stack, and season to season, even if you're buying from the same supplier.
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post #5 of 29 Old 12-14-2019, 06:16 PM
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I can't keep up with all the different advice about supplements, so I just feed hay and a commercial vitamin-mineral supplement. They get a choice of mineralized and plain salt free choice. In summer that is pretty much what they get -- they have free access to pasture, which we are just now beginning to figure out how to fertilize.

In winter I feed extra calories if they start losing weight, our winters are cold. And this winter I started feeding a vitamin E/Omega-3 supplement because they are on hay only, and those get lost in the drying process.

Otherwise, I only add other supplements to help a specific problem.

My horses do okay.

I know a sheep rancher who puts out tubs of various loose minerals free choice to her flock. All kinds of stuff, unmixed, some of it quite easy to overdose on. The sheep consume different amounts of different minerals at different times in the forage cycle and the breeding cycle. They never poison themselves.
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post #6 of 29 Old 12-14-2019, 06:44 PM
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My personal horses are on alfalfa for their main diet so we do Premium Alfalfa to fill in the nutritional gaps from eating straight alfalfa and then we also add MSM to soaked beet pulp shreds. One of our mares gets daily ulcer gard mixed in as well. Oh and we do ground flax seed, but I honestly may look to switch to something different for that. They all have free choice salt in their stalls as well. I second where others suggest analyzing the hay that you're feeding then supplementing from there. The place where we purchase the hay provides us with analysis from Dept of Ag.

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post #7 of 29 Old 12-14-2019, 07:49 PM
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What can we do if we donít have access to hay and soil analysis? They are on hey only and she has a salt lick. Thatís it. Nobody here feeds any supplements and horses look normal.
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post #8 of 29 Old 12-14-2019, 09:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Horsef View Post
What can we do if we donít have access to hay and soil analysis? They are on hey only and she has a salt lick. Thatís it. Nobody here feeds any supplements and horses look normal.
I don't understand what you mean when you say you don't have access to hay and soil analysis. I found lots of studies on soil in my area online, mostly from dairy farmers, but the data is the same. As for hay analysis, I mail in my hay sample. I don't see why you couldn't do the same. Chop up your hay, put it in a plastic bag and mail it to a lab... it really is that simple.
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post #9 of 29 Old 12-15-2019, 06:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Acadianartist View Post
I don't understand what you mean when you say you don't have access to hay and soil analysis. I found lots of studies on soil in my area online, mostly from dairy farmers, but the data is the same. As for hay analysis, I mail in my hay sample. I don't see why you couldn't do the same. Chop up your hay, put it in a plastic bag and mail it to a lab... it really is that simple.
Not quite, I live in a third world country. Those analyses literally donít exist - we just donít have those laboratories. Cattle isnít really farmed in the sense you are accustomed to. Cattle is mainly kept in small, family held barns which rarely have more than five cows. Cows are fed whatever hay the family makes on their own land. There really needs to be a solid base of industrial farming for such fancy things as soil analysis.

Posting hay through customs would end in me having to explain to the police that I am not, in fact, posting marijuana. I am quite sure that I cannot post untreated plant matter to other countries due to those countriesí laws. We canít even take a few apples across the border for personal consumption. And in any case, our post office looses most packages. My track record is that I got one out of five packages I ordered before I gave up on them.

If youíve been following Cordillera Cowboyís journal about his farm in the Philippines, that sort of thing - only slightly more advanced.
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post #10 of 29 Old 12-15-2019, 08:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Horsef View Post
Not quite, I live in a third world country. Those analyses literally donít exist - we just donít have those laboratories. Cattle isnít really farmed in the sense you are accustomed to. Cattle is mainly kept in small, family held barns which rarely have more than five cows. Cows are fed whatever hay the family makes on their own land. There really needs to be a solid base of industrial farming for such fancy things as soil analysis.

Posting hay through customs would end in me having to explain to the police that I am not, in fact, posting marijuana. I am quite sure that I cannot post untreated plant matter to other countries due to those countriesí laws. We canít even take a few apples across the border for personal consumption. And in any case, our post office looses most packages. My track record is that I got one out of five packages I ordered before I gave up on them.

If youíve been following Cordillera Cowboyís journal about his farm in the Philippines, that sort of thing - only slightly more advanced.

In your case, are there any types of general, condensed vit/min supplements availble or would you have to order them and it would cost a fortune? Keeping it as simple as possible and hoping what is on a store shelf has the necessary vitamins & minerals for whatever shortages might be in the soils In your area.

If you would have to order do you even have some place in your country to order from?

I am in SE United States. I have one insulin resistant horse and the other one is an easy keeper who could go that way. Both are in their mid-20's and are fed a condensed vit/min supplement that is soy-free with no added iron. It comes from HorseTech.

They both get an extra 3,000 IU of pure vitamin E (no added selenium) to boost their immune system, plus my pastures have turned completely brown this winter - something that hasn't happened in several years. This winter they are asking for hay because they don't have grass, the last few winters they only wanted hay just fir something to chew on, like we chew in gum.
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Last edited by walkinthewalk; 12-15-2019 at 08:22 AM.
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