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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
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/products/naturals-pelleted-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.
 

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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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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I forgot to mention that she gets fed the above amounts of grain twice daily.
 

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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.
:runninghorse2:...
 

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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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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.
 

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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-equine-digestive-system-a-food-factory/
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks.

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

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
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.)
 

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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.
:runninghorse2:....
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks.

Well, as they say, "if it ain't broke, then don't "fix" it." The current feeding system has been working for two/three years.

The grain she is has, according to Purina, "a unique combination of advanced supplements", so I was wondering if I do cut out the grain, if it'd make much of a difference.
 

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Thanks.

Well, as they say, "if it ain't broke, then don't "fix" it." The current feeding system has been working for two/three years.

The grain she is has, according to Purina, "a unique combination of advanced supplements", so I was wondering if I do cut out the grain, if it'd make much of a difference.

It might, it just might...
:runninghorse2:...
 

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A horse can do well for a long long time on way less than optimum feeding.


Supplements in my mind are to supply the minerals the horse is not getting in the feed available. Quantities of various minerals in various manufactured supplements are all over the board and meaningless unless it is calculated or known what is missing from the available feed with the supplement quantities chosen to match those deficiencies.


I'm lucky as the deficiencies (or excesses) in both hay and forage is pretty standard all across Arizona. One of Dr. Kellon's students worked up a matching supplement for herself and the manufacturer, Horsetec, offers it to the general public by the name of Arizona Copper Complete.


I tested my horses forage and did all the math and compared it to what ACC had in it and it was very very close so I just use ACC.


Wild horses out in the boonies don't get their feed tested but those in confinement don't get he huge variety that a horse in the wild will eat. It is amazing to watch them go from one plant to another when they are available. They'll leave nice looking grass to go eat some scrub oak leaves and then go eat the bark off a branch that has fallen from a Cottonwood tree.


I haven't done any mineral blood work but it'd be a good idea.
 

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Well, as they say, "if it ain't broke, then don't "fix" it." The current feeding system has been working for two/three years.

The grain she is has, according to Purina, "a unique combination of advanced supplements", so I was wondering if I do cut out the grain, if it'd make much of a difference.
She's getting barely anything from the grain, if you're only feeding 4 ounces a day. A half cup is 4 oz, and for a complete feed that is not really doing anything at all except giving the horse a treat. If I put that into the FeedXL calculator, the grain you are giving is providing somewhere around 1% to 7% of the amount your horse would need of most vitamins and minerals per day. An example would be vitamin E. The amount of grain you are feeding provides 40 IU of E, and horses need at least 1,000 IU daily.

It is good you are analyzing the hay, because her hind end muscling looks a bit weak, so I'd wonder if it had enough quality protein in it. Over the winter when horses tend to need more hay, they also can end up vitamin e deficient since it does not store well in hay and they only can get enough when they are on green pasture. Shortages of vitamin e and magnesium can affect the muscle development.

I'd say the amount of grain you are feeding would be the equivalent to the amount you might feed of a concentrated vitamin supplement. To me that would be a better idea, since the horse would actually get value out of it to make it worth buying. Feeding 4 oz of a multivitamin such as horse guard would give your horse 1,000 IU of vitamin e as well as good amounts of other vitamins and minerals such as potassium, vitamin A, magnesium, etc. That is often a good way to get horses complete nutrition if they are easy keepers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Okay. Thanks.

I know it depends on the horse but to have a general idea, what are the daily amounts of vitamins and minerals?
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
I don't know how much this has to do with anything, but according to the government website, here are the average of elements in the soil where I board.
 

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I've looked at those before and it seems to be divided by average weight of the breed so I would expect that if your horse weighs significantly more or less then you skip the breed link and just use the weight link.
 
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