Horse Nutrition - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 22 Old 05-27-2019, 10:48 AM Thread Starter
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Horse Nutrition

I was wondering if someone could explain horse nutrition for me? I am an absolute noob when it comes to horse nutrition, as the barn always took care of it, and we never had any problems.

I am currently feeding my horse https://www.triplecrownfeed.com/prod...ed-horse-feed/. (Please excuse me, I know this is bad because you are supposed to feed by weight, not volume.) I feed 1/4 cup in the spring and summer and about (adjusted according to the weather) 1 cup in the fall and winter.
She is an easy-keeper; she doesn't really need grain, unless the winter is brutal. I was wondering is someone could preform an analysis on this horse grain? If it's not good, what would be a grain recommendation? I've been feeding it for about two-three years and it seems to be going well. However, if it is not good or if I can cut it out (during the spring and summer), I'd like to change that. I was thinking about cutting out her grain and just feeding supplements, if needed. How does one know if their horse needs supplements? If the horse needs supplements, how much?

She has free-choice, local grass hay (I don't know the exact kind) all year-round.

She is turned out 24/7. I don't know what kind of grass, though.

She has a free-choice salt block.

Thank you.

"I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand." - Confucius

Last edited by LoonWatcher; 05-27-2019 at 10:58 AM. Reason: Clarification.
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post #2 of 22 Old 05-27-2019, 11:02 AM
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These people can test your grass or grain. https://equi-analytical.com/


I was a noob on horse nutrition once upon a time.


It is every bit as important as proper hoof care, maybe even more.


Most grasses have been bred for high sugar/starch for fattening cattle. Not so good for horses sometimes. The weight and body score of a horse needs to be checked frequently. A tape measure can be used to check weight. Post pictures for other online to estimate body score. I'm not particularly good at it myself but getting better.


A horse can sometimes be ruined or even killed by over feeding.


Very important topic.

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post #3 of 22 Old 05-27-2019, 11:25 AM Thread Starter
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I forgot to mention that she gets fed the above amounts of grain twice daily.

"I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand." - Confucius
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post #4 of 22 Old 05-27-2019, 11:35 AM
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Nutrition and feeding of horses should start with their forage first...
The bulk of nutrition should be through grass and hay fed.
Then if your horse is not thriving and looking well, then you add a feed to add the bloom to the horse.
Vitamin and minerals, quality ones fed if you don't need feed fed so the horse gets their daily needed to thrive.
Fresh water, salt block always available...

If you purchase hay from one source then you have a pretty dependable known minerals in the ground your hay comes from...what the ground is fortified with is also a important thing to know...then you offset or add what is missing and needed with a vit/min supplement.

Feeding correctly is not all that crazy difficult.
Forage, hay or grass in plentiful amounts.
Vitamin/minerals so the horse has balance in their body needed for thriving.
In the wild, horses roam and eat some of this some of that to balance what their body needs. They just know what to eat and what not to, how much or how little.
In captivity they don't wander miles a day so we, their caretaker need to give them a balanced diet...
So much of the balance though starts with grass and hay and then you fill in the blanks with what is needed in appropriate amounts for that animal...

Many also refer people to a site called "FeedXL"
I've never used the site nor visited it myself, but maybe some of your questions can be answered from this place too.
...
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post #5 of 22 Old 05-27-2019, 12:17 PM
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You'd save a lot of guess work by testing the hay, if you have one supplier. If you don't know where to get It tested, your local feed stores or vets might if you give them a call. Like horselovingguy said, you then 'fill in the blanks' for what the hay is lacking in. This is especially important for easy keepers, who need nutrition, but not the extra calories.


Personally, I'd skip on the grain analysis since your horse may not actually need the grain and the company already provides an estimated analysis. Something like a ration balancer or a vitamin/ mineral supplement may be more suited for your easy keeper, but anything would be a shot in the dark without first having an idea of what's in your hay. The hay can also differ between environments due to different soil and climate. For that reason, I can't say exactly what your horse would need because your area could be deficient in Iron for example, and mine has high Iron.


I don't really believe that all hays can provide everything the horse needs either because they all differ in nutritional quality. For example, my horse (also an easy keeper) had problems with hoof quality for a long time and until a few years ago, I hadn't realized that my area had high Iron in soil. Excess Iron interferes with Copper and Zinc absorption. Copper is needed for good hoof wall connection and zinc mainly contributes to protein strength. In order to balance this, I had to feed no Iron and increase Copper and Zinc, which moved the ratio closer to 4 Iron: 1 Copper: 4 Zinc. The hooves grew in much better after that and we saw a completely different and positive result a full year after diet change.


.
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post #6 of 22 Old 05-27-2019, 12:18 PM
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Horse nutrition gets very complicated, very quickly! And the more we know, the more confusing it gets! These days, I think the number one concern is feeding a low sugar, low carb diet. You start with knowing what's in your hay. Like Hondo said, most folks send a sample to EquiAnalytical. There is a lot of info on their site. The general rule is ESC (ether soluble carbs) plus starch equals less than 10%. This helps avoid metabolic disease and laminitis.

Once you have your forage analysis in hand, the task is to balance the rest of the diet against the forage. I recently learned of an online program called FeedXL which made that incredibly easy. No more guesswork or useless supplements for me!

This is what I learned from Feed XL this spring: Foundation forage is low carb orchard grass hay, fed with label recommended amount of Triple Crown 30%ration balancer, plus 2 tablespoons of iodized salt and 5 ounces of ground flax seeds. I needed to add a small amount of copper, selenium and kelp meal (for iodine), and that's it.

Here are a couple of caveats to the recommended additions though.

There is a growing concern about iron overload, which interferes with zinc and copper metabolism. As I understand it, the ratio of iron to zinc is 3:1 and the ratio of zinc to copper is 3:1 so I adjusted copper intake to complement zinc. The iron:zinc ratio was already good.

There is a group called ECIR (Equine Cushings and Insulin Resistance) run by a vet that's the real keeper of the equine nutrition flame. Might be worth looking them up.

Last edited by dogpatch; 05-27-2019 at 12:31 PM.
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post #7 of 22 Old 05-27-2019, 03:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LoonWatcher View Post
I forgot to mention that she gets fed the above amounts of grain twice daily.

Secretariat was euthanized from being fed 10 pounds of oats per day for 20 years. When he was young and racing, he handled it ok. Retired as a breeding stallion, he could not. Much money was spent trying to save him as his sperm was worth millions. They could not.


Sugar and starch should only be digested in the foregut. If there is more than can be digested in the foregut before it passes to the hindgut, it causes acedosis which has many bad consequences, founder/laminitis being one.


Unless your horse is really working hard, no grain is needed and is probably detrimental to his health in any amount as the hay is probably richer than what was evolved on.


The iron content where I'm located is 10 times the recommended by NRC and so copper and zinc has to be upped by 10 times the NRC recommendations.


Here's some reading I know you will enjoy.


https://thehorse.com/126346/the-equi...-food-factory/

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post #8 of 22 Old 05-27-2019, 08:54 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks.

I'll see what I can do about food weight, hay analysis, and body pictures.

"I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand." - Confucius
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post #9 of 22 Old 05-30-2019, 01:05 PM Thread Starter
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Food weight: 1/2 pound (226.8 grams) daily (or 1/4 pound (113.4 grams) twice daily.)

I am still waiting for hay analysis.

Body picture below. (Sorry, I know it isn't a good one.)
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 20190530_121729_1559233177551.jpg (90.4 KB, 4 views)

"I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand." - Confucius

Last edited by LoonWatcher; 05-30-2019 at 01:19 PM.
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post #10 of 22 Old 05-30-2019, 06:14 PM
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I wouldn't be looking to change to much of anything with the horse appearing as such...
He's a beauty.


If you use one source for your hay often true professionals have analysis done of their fields and products so they know what needs fortified for better results = more money from greater yield.


If you think there is a deficiency, then often blood-work and chemistry is needed to give factual numbers.
Speak to your vet, they are a wealth of information often over-looked they would share.
....

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