Best Option: Grain, Oats, Alt? - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 32 Old 11-12-2019, 06:29 AM
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Originally Posted by cef721 View Post
I guess I should have been more specific. By grain, I mean concentrate. She is now on Triple Crown Senior, as stated above, which is a low NSC concentrate. I cannot give her the calories she needs in just hay, even alfalfa. She already gets 3 meals a day, but she gets worked enough that she needs some supplementation.
If she isn't keeping weight on with alfalfa and TCS, add another low-sugar concentrate -- beet pulp, rice bran, copra etc. You could also start adding a little fat such sunflower seeds or oil, or a commercial "weight builder" which is basically fats, I think several companies make them. You don't need much to have an effect. She should also have grass hay in front of her at all times. A horse in light work which is not able to keep a good weight with just alfalfa is a hard keeper.

But don't bother with grain, including oats.
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post #12 of 32 Old 11-12-2019, 09:47 AM
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Oats are a good source of energy as well as easy to digest. So if you feed oats, make sure they are whole oats. A good concentrated feed is Lifedata Labs Barn bag. Lots of good articles on nutrition on their website.
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post #13 of 32 Old 11-12-2019, 07:22 PM
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I can not agree more with the people who have suggested testing nutrition and then altering your horse's diet based on the nutrition analysis.

I'm not going to say this or that is a bad thing to feed because I feel that is entirely dependent on the horse itself, hay analysis and situation. Alfalfa is a good source of protein and calcium, but the high calcium can unbalance phosphorus if your not careful. Oats can be a great source of energy, but are high in NSCs. Both can be beneficial in the right situation, but could cause a horse to founder in the wrong situation.

That being said, it is simple to mess a horse's nutrition up and not even realize it (Not saying you, specifically have, but that it is a very common occurrence). All too often I've seen people adding supplements/ other things to a horse's diet without realizing that It will unbalance ratios. I had a friend who had her horse on lots of nice, expensive supplements, alfalfa etc. Her horse wasn't putting on weight, so she'd add oils and more alfalfa etc. Then, she added a biotin/ zinc supplement for the hooves and her horse's coat became dull and hoof quality deteriorated. Well, turns out her horse had excess zinc, among other things. The calcium/phosphorus ratios were also off. Once the horse's nutrition was balanced, most issues went away and she was spending less that she ever had on her horse's diet!
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post #14 of 32 Old 11-20-2019, 03:10 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Avna View Post

If she isn't keeping weight on with alfalfa and TCS, add another low-sugar concentrate -- beet pulp, rice bran, copra etc. You could also start adding a little fat such sunflower seeds or oil, or a commercial "weight builder" which is basically fats, I think several companies make them. You don't need much to have an effect. She should also have grass hay in front of her at all times. A horse in light work which is not able to keep a good weight with just alfalfa is a hard keeper.

But don't bother with grain, including oats.
I never said she wasn't keeping weight. She is in good weight. She's on concentrate for her topline, prebiotics, and probiotics, especially as she enters back into work. She is a big mare -- 1300 pounds when she isn't fitted up, 1400 when she is.
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post #15 of 32 Old 11-20-2019, 07:02 AM
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If you are like me, who cannot have hay analyzed, I would probably go with a ration balancer. If your mare is not having any problems created by nutrition and you want to continue to feed alfalfa, go for a ration balancer that balances out the alfalfa only diet. They make specific balancers for alfalfa. Beet pulp can be a good thing but I would not add it to alfalfa as they are both higher in calcium and too low in phosphorus. This is why many also feed oats beside alfalfa as oats are higher in phosphorus than calcium. I personally would not feed oats because of the high sugar/starch. Beet pulp by itself is pretty void of necessary vitamins and minerals. It is not something that I would totally replace hay with without adding vitamins/minerals to the mix. I don't agree that beet pulp is more nutritious than hay for a horse. Many senior horse feeds have a big percentage of beet pulp ingredient but they also balance out the nutrition with other things added.

For me, analyzing hay would not be beneficial because I don't have the means to store large quantities of hay at one time right now. If I could, I would go that route.
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post #16 of 32 Old 11-20-2019, 07:37 AM
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If she's in low work and good weight, a ration balance or vit/min is all she'd need unless she proves otherwise.
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post #17 of 32 Old 11-20-2019, 08:10 AM
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How tall is your mare? 1400 pounds is a big horse,or she's way to fat. My gelding is 15.2 and 985 lbs That's weighed on a truck scale.

If not in work all most horses need is hay & a vit/min mixed in a small amount hay pellets or beet pulp.

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post #18 of 32 Old 11-20-2019, 08:19 AM
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Even if you don't want to analyze your hay, there are things you can learn about your general environment (assuming your hay doesn't come from too far away). I don't have to have my hay analyzed to know that in my area, the soil is extremely high in iron, but completely deficient in selenium. Therefore I avoid adding anything that contains iron (it will unbalance other minerals like zinc) and that includes salt licks (I only buy the plain white blocks and add plain table salt to their feed). So no prepared feeds or ration balancers for me. On the other hand, my horses do need selenium (you can find this out through your local dept of Agriculture or by researching papers written about your area, mostly for commercial livestock purposes, but the information can still be valid for horses). My solution: timothy-only hay cubes (I'd rather not feed alfalfa) + beet pulp + a custom mineral mix from Mad Barn. This is soaked and fed twice a day, and I provide hay in slow-feeder nets 4 times a day so they are never very long without food. This also allows me to add certain things that are needed for each individual horse (feed buckets are colour-coded). My senior with runny stool gets pre and probiotics and slippery elm bark, for example, but the other two do fine without them. My moody mare gets magnesium and B12. They all get ground flax seed in the winter (but not in summer when they can get more from fresh grass).

This highly customized way of feeding may be a little more work, but once you have it all organized, it's not so bad. If needed, you can prepare small baggies of supps for each horse for the week, but I just do them up as I go. The feed is prepped and soaked after each feeding and kept in a cool place (my garage is perfect right now, just above freezing) until the next feeding time. It's cheaper, and you're not giving your horses anything extra or leaving something out that a particular horse might need. You can make slight modifications depending on season, whether you're heading to a show (I give one horse electrolytes a few days before shows), etc.

In the end, a one-size-fits-all feed is rarely a good solution for each individual. I suppose it is probably more convenient, but I've never done that so I wouldn't know. Once you get used to mixing your own feed, it's not a big deal. I should also specify that I did start with a hay analysis and worked with an equine nutritionist (who charged me all of 60$) to come up with the customized nutritional plan I needed. I'm not suggesting people do this on their own. It's well worth paying someone a little to make sure you have everything balanced. The challenge can be finding an equine nutritionist who does not work for a feed company, but there are some out there who freelance.
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post #19 of 32 Old 11-22-2019, 11:20 AM
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Yes, alternatively researching soil analysis of your area/ area hay was grown would give you a bit of an idea of vitamins/minerals that are high and low in your area. Like Acadianartist, my area has soil analysis of high iron, which also means low copper, and low vit E and selenium. It doesn't give me an entire picture of my horse's nutrition needs, but It gives some indication of what I need to look for (low/no iron, sufficient copper and supp. vit E). Soil analysis should be available online for your area.

If possible, I'd also suggest pairing that with a blood assessment to have a better picture. I do find that blood assessments are not entirely accurate on their own because they vary throughout the day and can get influenced by other factors. For example, true iron deficiency (from decreased intake/absorption or external blood loss) is a less common cause of low serum or plasma iron concentrations. Some drugs can cause iron to appear low, time of day, copper deficiency (an essential cofactor of hephaestin, which permits release of iron from intestinal cells), zinc excess (inhibits copper uptake) being a few examples. So, it is preferable to have environmental values as well in order to get a broader picture of what is actually needed. Keep in mind that hay analysis can vary too.

Also, like Acadianartist, I can also find no ration balancers in my area that fully suite the nutritional values in my area. Most, if not all are extremely high in iron and others with low/ no iron are deficient in a number of other nutrients needed. I ended up going with a vit/min supplement (Horsetech, who also does custom) and soaked timothy/alfalfa cubes to carry it. You will need something with a little more substance. I'd suggest finding out what is needed in terms of minerals/vitamins lacking and overly abundant, then structuring your horse's diet around that, which may take a bit of work and learning, but highly worth it in the end.

Feed XL is a good online (and free) program that has many feeds on file and helps you balance your horse's diet. More roughage is generally the best idea (and easiest to digest) for putting weight on. Roughage such as more hay, timothy/alfalfa cube mix (better Ca:P ratio), beet pulp are good ideas) and cool calories (oils- mainly omega 3s would be beneficial) would help keep weight, but all should be balanced.
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post #20 of 32 Old 11-23-2019, 04:21 PM
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Originally Posted by txgirl View Post
Oats are a good source of energy as well as easy to digest. So if you feed oats, make sure they are whole oats.
Afraid to say, oats are not actually that easy to digest. They are just easy *compared to* other grain, as they are lowest in starch/sugar(so if you feel the burning need to feed grain, they are the best option). They are supposedly the only cereal grain that can be somewhat digested if fed whole, but they, like other grains, are far better fed processed(rolled, micronised, etc), NOT fed whole.
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