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I have decided I want to take my guys off their vitamin and mineral supplement and possibly their feed altogether eventually. To be honest I haven't been able to find much information on this diet free of processed food, which is why I am asking here. They get a variety of different organic grasses and weeds, some hay and then their scoop of Lucerne chaff with their mineral and vitamin supplement daily. I'd be open to changing their feed to different things as long as it wasn't a processed food. I have heard some things about sprouts being good but not enough info for me to be sure. The soils in NZ are poor in selenium and magnesium so I don't know if the grass and weeds will be enough. I don't plan to change feed until I know what I'm doing. Any info is appreciated.
I know many will disagree with not having processed food in their diets, everyone has their reasons. I agree to disagree. This threads purpose is not to talk about processed feed
 

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Why don't you want to provide your horse with minerals and vitamins? Horses cannot get all the vitamins and minerals from grass and hay alone. I recommend reading some of Dr. Kellon's blogs about nutrition.

I have never given my horses processed feeds. I start with a hay analysis and some basic research on my soil. Like you, our soil is selenium deficient so I know I will have to supply that. The hay analysis tells me the rest. I consulted an equine nutritionist who did the math and told me what I need to add in terms of vitamins and minerals, and in what quantities. Mad Barn makes my custom mineral supplement which I add to soaked, molasses-free beet pulp and hay cubes (timothy/alfalfa) 2 x a day. This way, they get exactly what they need, but no fillers, no added sugar, etc. Oh, and I add a Tbsp of table salt per day to each horse's feed as well. My senior gets additional camelina oil and a natural joint supplement.

Hay analysis cost me 30$, my equine nutritionist charged 60$ and the custom mineral mix from Mad Barn is about one dollar a day per horse just in case you are thinking that my approach is more expensive - it isn't. They get a complete diet without any extras.
 

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I stay away from processed food for my own nutrition needs. With the wide variety of food available in today's supermarkets that's a fairly relaxed process.

But with horses, not quite as easy. For horses living on a large acreage where they only eat natural grazing and browse, they are more likely to get the trace minerals and vitamins etc that they need.

But as you mentioned, if something like selenium is not in the dirt, it won't be in the plant and the horse can suffer from selenium deficiency which is problematic.

And there is the consideration that most hay available is also processed in a sense as it has been genetically selected for high NSC to make cattle fat. Most plants and animals that are selected for one trait wind up deficient in another.

One place to start of course would be to have all of the feed you are currently using tested and compared to what the horse is supposed to need. Then look for sources of natural feed that will fill in those needs.

This link will cut to the chase of your question and concerns:

 

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My horses only graze and get hay. Oh, they do have a salt block or loose salt available. But they are on large acreage, as trailscout mentions.

We work harder to keep our soil healthy. Everything for the livestock and wildlife depends on healthy soil.
 

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You need to provide a vit/min there are ones without fillers. My horses are on a forage only diet with a vit/min. Vit/min I use has no fillers no, molasses, no grain products and no added iron.

I quit using commercial feed 2 years ago. My horses look better then they ever have. So I'd say it works horses don't need commercial feed these companies push their products.
 

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My horses only graze and get hay. Oh, they do have a salt block or loose salt available. But they are on large acreage, as trailscout mentions.

We work harder to keep our soil healthy. Everything for the livestock and wildlife depends on healthy soil.
Boot your horses are on mega, well managed acres on a ranch out west, lollol.

My horses are 20+ acres of lush in southern Middle Tennessee and they still need a vit/min supplement — Like so many others, I do not feed bagged feeds, I feed a condensed vit/min supplement mixed into one cup of Timothy pellets:)
 

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you need to test your grass hay . I do not feed my horses weeds, I try to get weed free hay and keep pastures weed free. I am sure in NZ you have much different forage grass than what is in other countries. Forage grasses vary gratly by region. I would have a sample tested to see what is missing in the forage. I do not know what you are calling weeds. Some plants are toxic to horses.
 

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Thankyou for the info everyone! I'll get my hay tested and I'll have to keep a vit/min mix going but I'll just try find one without a bunch of fillers and synthetics in it.
@Acadianartist I do, I was just asking if there was an alternative natural source for all the vitamins and minerals as a lto of the vit/min mixes around here are synthetic.
@stevenson i have expressed myself badly, I mean good plants. I like the horses to not have just grass. In the pasture there is plantains , flat weeds, odd patch of clover, good edible types of thistle and probably a few others I can't remember right now. But they are all edible and healthy.
 

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Thankyou for the info everyone! I'll get my hay tested and I'll have to keep a vit/min mix going but I'll just try find one without a bunch of fillers and synthetics in it.
@Acadianartist I do, I was just asking if there was an alternative natural source for all the vitamins and minerals as a lto of the vit/min mixes around here are synthetic.
@stevenson i have expressed myself badly, I mean good plants. I like the horses to not have just grass. In the pasture there is plantains , flat weeds, odd patch of clover, good edible types of thistle and probably a few others I can't remember right now. But they are all edible and healthy.
I understand, and you're right, it's good for horses to have a wide selection of forage available. Mine munch on leaves, bark, shrubs, weeds, etc. However, I would not be confident that they are getting a balanced diet this way (and those are only available at certain times of the year anyway). I know some people believe horses will seek out what their bodies need, but I tend to disagree. I know that if I assumed that what I crave is what my body needs, I'd be eating way more junk food than I should. Because like horses, humans also seek out high calorie foods because we think we might be in danger of starvation even when that is not even a remote possibility. Horses also like sweet, rich grasses, but that doesn't mean that's what's best for them. Conversely, just because the healthy stuff is edible, doesn't mean they're eating it.

Best of luck! Sounds like you're on the right track as many of us are ditching processed feeds that contain fillers and may not actually provide your horse what it needs anyway. Many people don't feed the recommended quantity of processed feeds, but in doing so, they are also not provided adequate amounts of the necessary vitamins and minerals. Feed companies want you to have to feed large volumes of feed - that's how they make money.
 

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In NZ there is a co called 'Calm Healthy Horses'. They also have a FB page & I believe they have at least one qualified equine nutritionist running it. First heard of them on this forum, as a member called 'Merlot' was friends with their 'chief cook'. They have done lots of research specific to grasses grown in NZ(being lots of cattle fattening 'improved' pastures), and the mins needed. I suggest, as well as learning about equine nutrition generally & getting pasture/hay tests, you look them up for some more local advice.
 

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I have decided I want to take my guys off their vitamin and mineral supplement and possibly their feed altogether eventually. To be honest I haven't been able to find much information on this diet free of processed food, which is why I am asking here. They get a variety of different organic grasses and weeds, some hay and then their scoop of Lucerne chaff with their mineral and vitamin supplement daily. I'd be open to changing their feed to different things as long as it wasn't a processed food. I have heard some things about sprouts being good but not enough info for me to be sure. The soils in NZ are poor in selenium and magnesium so I don't know if the grass and weeds will be enough. I don't plan to change feed until I know what I'm doing. Any info is appreciated.
I know many will disagree with not having processed food in their diets, everyone has their reasons. I agree to disagree. This threads purpose is not to talk about processed feed
To some degree all purchased feed is "processed". Even a bale of hay has been processed (the process of turning it from grass to hay). There are things which have just the most fundamental processing though. I'm not sure if beet pulp is available to you in NZ, but it makes for a great, high nutritional value, feed (don't get the ones with molasses or any, you only want plane, 100% beet pulp with nothing added) Another good feed (closer to home for you) is copra. Just be careful to make sure you get good quality. There is an Australian company, Stance, that produces it (just 100% copra with nothing added). I've used CoolStance as part of my feed mix for years. The easiest thing to do is look at what is present in various items that can be used for feed. You want to look for things that a horse needs (keeping in mind the ratio....ratio is not an exact science, but getting it close is very important) and just as important, you want to look for things in the food item that horses should not get (e.g. too much NSC...i.e. starch..., sweeteners, etc....). That's why even the right hay is important (you'd be surprised at how many types of hay are too high in NSC). I will say that going completely off supplements while maintaining a completely balanced diet that has all the minerals and amino acids at recommended levels is going to be a tall order anywhere. For example: I mix my own feed with is about 2/3 beet pulp and 1/3 copra (both being very high in nutrition, both extremely low in NSC. The ratio is based on their highest mineral content. Beet pulp is very high in CA, but with virtually no P it doesn't reach needed ratio for the CA to be as beneficial for the horse. Beet pulp is all fiber and is perfect for a horse's proper hindgut health (the equine hindgut is designed by nature to handle 85% or more of fiber and less than 15% starch....that's a topic all it's own and I'm not going to do another dissertation on equine nutrition and digestion LOL). Copra is even more digestible than beet pulp and virtually completely digested in the foregut and also is very low in NSC (well below what would be too much). Copra is high in P with a modest level of CA, which is the reverse of what the proper ratio should be (should be about a 2 to 1 ratio of CA to P). So I mix the amount of beet pulp and copra accordingly. For most of the year (our growing season here runs from early March to early Nov) mine live by grazing. My soil mineral content varies enough in different areas they have access to that they get most of what they need. The rest they get during the months that I feed them since I do provide supplements during the feed months to make up for what they didn't get and what they don't get when the grazing is gone. They don't actually need some things every day (doesn't hurt them though if they get it). In nature they roam and graze over large areas which would not provide every needed mineral or amino acid in each area, but in the process of roaming they would generally get what they needed from the combination of what was provided in different locations.

Wanting to get away from the premixed processed feeds provided by the bulk of the equine feed industry does put you ahead of probably 90% of horse owners. :)
 
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