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I'm looking for suggestions/critiques of my feeding routine. I just got my horses back on my property and have complete control of when/what they eat, which I didn't before. Here's the schedule. I feed twice a day, and the supplements are put in at night. They get hay at night when they're put in the stall and have a covered round bale during the day. They also both have a vitamin/mineral/salt block in their stalls which they lick every so often. The hay is costal Bermuda hay, but I'm switching to Tifton after this bale is gone. They won't hardly eat this one.

They've only been home for a few days and are still settling in. My mare has lost a little weight but my gelding, the hard keeper, couldn't care less. I swear he can digest anything and nothing stops him from eating unless he's sick. I'll include pictures of them to judge their body condition too. I think they both look pretty good. Excuse the mess, I'm currently deep cleaning both stalls, putting up the barn shelves, and reorganizing everything.

This is JR, a paint (he's registered somewhere but I don't have his papers). He's 25 this January and gets fed Blue Seal Sentinel LS Performance feed and Nutrena Empower Boost, along with glucosamine and a probiotic/enzyme. I'm thinking of getting rid of the probiotic (since his feed has probiotics added) and switching the glucosamine for MSM which has worked better for him. He gets about 2.5 lbs of the Sentinel and 1lb of Empower per feeding. His teeth are scheduled to be done in December. They haven't been done in a couple years. I've struggled to keep weight on till I fed what I'm feeding now. How's his weight looking? You can kind of see the outline of his ribs but keep in mind he's 25 and doesn't have the muscle of a young horse. And I think his build contributes as well. I've always seen his ribs even when the vet said his weight was perfectly fine. Just look at his hindquarters.
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This is Tess, an Arabian/Appaloosa and the least photogenic animal on the planet. She's 9 this January and is getting fed whole oats and Standlee Alfalfa-Timothy pellets along with a vitamin/mineral supplement. Right now she's getting 1lb of both per feeding. I just started feeding her this (when she was at my grandmothers she just got grass and hay because she was quite pudgy) so I have yet to see any changes. So far she's not hot. Also, her teeth were just done a little while ago and I haven't seen a single whole oat in her manure. From what I've read, so long as their teeth are good and their guts are working right, horses can digest whole oats just fine. It probably depends on the horse too but I've seen good results in other people's horses. We'll see. I don't really want her on a grain other than oat because last time we moved barns she had an ulcer episode. I'm trying to keep a high fiber and roughage content in her diet. Her topline could use some work but I haven't been riding her much at all for the past few months. She's funky built too lol.
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Again, they've only been home for a few days and are still getting used to everything. Tess especially is having a hard time adjusting. She doesn't do well with moves. The old man actually doesn't give a snickerdoodle where he is so long as he has something to eat. Been there, done that, don't care.

What does everyone think? I'm especially curious about what I'm feeding Tess since I've never fed anything but pellets before as a staple. I've also heard alfalfa is good for hoof growth, is that true? If so she could really use the help. Her feet are terrible. Both of their feet are at the moment. Where they were it was extremely wet and soggy and their hoof health went way downhill. Her feet are chipping and his feet have had trouble with thrush and abscesses. I've given biotin before (for almost a year) and it didn't seem to do any good.

I did want to share with you all how I store my feed. I got the idea from my boss who does the same thing. I thought it was genius. This is an old chest freezer I got for free because it doesn't work. It's airtight and keeps all the critters out. I can fit about 400lbs of feed in here. I have a table right beside it and just mix up their feed right there.
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Both horses weight to me looks good based on hindend appearance of softly rounded, covered tailhead and flanks that are flat not concave nor convex.
For horses who have been standing in pasture and little riding, forced exercise for muscle building they look good.
I don't know what your feed has in it for probiotics, but can tell you not only are probiotics in the Empower Boost but so are prebiotics...something I liked when I fed it.
For the hooves..
Biotin fed by itself is not enough...it needs the supporting amino acids to actually help the growth and healthy you search for.
I had good results with Farriers Formula, a balanced hoof supplement I know many have fed with nice results.
Remember though that it takes months to actually see results of improved hoof health occur and near a year for a full hoof grow-out to happen...and of course you need good genes to help the entire scenario to happen and keep on happening.

My horses prefer Tifton over Coastal, but there is Coastal and then there is Coastal.
Thick blade Coastal looks like Tifton so make sure if you want Tifton you purchase Tifton...
My haymen tells me there are few real Tifton fields left, most have turned over to Coastal as it is easier growing and harvesting, so beware.
There are also different Tifton with 44 being most common but there is Tifton 9, 44, and 88 and think there is another but not positive...all slightly different nutrient values.
Know where your hay was harvested from and if fields were improved {fertilized} or not and you want to see the hay analysis sheet please.

Only being home a few days, not surprising Tess is a bit out of sorts with the upheaval...
Who likes their routine and comfort zone thrown out the window, not me!
Give her up to a month before true concern occurs.
Watch she is eating and not losing weight as she settles to the new place, new smells, new routine and people caring for her and her changed environment.
I've always found mares are more sensitive to changes and my geldings just roll with the punch and take all in stride settling easily.
Hormones? Who knows...

But for me, both horses look good.
From your aged JR to your sensitive Tess...as they get use to you caring for them, the new surroundings and that JR is a steady influence think Tess will settle soon enough with little grief.

Enjoy having your "children" home under your watchful eye and care...they are both fine looking animals. 馃槈
馃惔 ...
 

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I feed twice a day, and the supplements are put in at night.
Generally speaking, nutritional supps should be fine fed only once daily, tho there are some things - fats, omega 3 for eg which are better fed little & often, so if you're hard feeding twice daily, I'd generally divide the supps between 2 as well.

my gelding, the hard keeper, couldn't care less. I swear he can digest anything and nothing stops him from eating
And yet he's a 'hard keeper'? He looks good in the pic!

Blue Seal Sentinel LS Performance feed and Nutrena Empower Boost, along with glucosamine and a probiotic/enzyme. I'm thinking of getting rid of the probiotic (since his feed has probiotics added) and switching the glucosamine for MSM which has worked better for him.
Wondering why you've chosen those 2 feeds together? Did you decide after a nutritional analysis? Just that otherwise there may be some doubling up of nutrients. Also one is low starch & the other high NSC. They're both high fat - not necessarily bad at all, just wondering why both of these? And do you feed it with alfalfa chaff or such? Yeah, probably not a lot of value in feeding an extra probio. Not a lot of comment on glucosamine except that Dr Bowker reckons it's rubbish ;-)

fed whole oats and Standlee Alfalfa-Timothy pellets along with a vitamin/mineral supplement. Right now she's getting 1lb of both per feeding. I just started feeding her this (when she was at my grandmothers she just got grass and hay because she was quite pudgy) so I have yet to see any changes. So far she's not hot. Also, her teeth were just done a little while ago and I haven't seen a single whole oat in her manure. From what I've read, so long as their teeth are good and their guts are working right, horses can digest whole oats just fine.
Again, why have you chosen to feed her these things? If she was 'pudgy', why did you feel the need for oats & alfalfa - both high calorie, high energy feed. Is she in hard work? As for nutrition, oats are reasonably high in phosphorus, but little else. They can be one appropriate option if that nutrient is lacking. Yes, oats are the only modern cereal grain that are reasonably easily digestible to horses. Still, small amounts & frequent feeds are best - half lb per feed should be fine, so long as the whole feed isn't large. They're the lowest NSC(sugar/starch) of the cereal grains too, tho they're still high, and I'd feed very judiciously, wouldn't feed them to an overweight or IR horse.

In addition, be it grain or anything else, little & often is important, as is starting most ingredients in very small quantity & building it up gradually to however much they need. So if this diet is brand new to them, while it's not a vast quantity, I'd have started small.

I've also heard alfalfa is good for hoof growth, is that true? If so she could really use the help. Her feet are terrible. Both of their feet are at the moment. Where they were it was extremely wet and soggy and their hoof health went way downhill. Her feet are chipping and his feet have had trouble with thrush and abscesses. I've given biotin before (for almost a year) and it didn't seem to do any good.
Alfalfa is high in protein, has lysine & some other essentials, is high in calcium & magnesium. It's also low sugar, so yeah, it's a great ingredient as part of a balanced diet, and as such can improve hoof health along with the rest. Diet/nutrition are vital to hoof health. Biotin has been shown in a study to aid hoof growth. It is a B vitamin, of which, if horses are getting adequate green pick - including lucerne/alfalfa - they may be getting well enough already in their diet, so more is unnecessary/unhelpful. It is also but one of many nutrients which may or may not be lacking/imbalanced, so the lack of 'doing any good' may have been due to it being unnecessary, or it could have been that her hooves were crying out for other nutrients as well as the biotin. Or it could have been environment - while good nutrition helps, it won't protect feet from damage because of sodden footing or suchlike.

I did want to share with you all how I store my feed. I got the idea from my boss who does the same thing. I thought it was genius. This is an old chest freezer I got for free because it doesn't work. It's airtight and keeps all the critters out. I can fit about 400lbs of feed in here. I have a table right beside it and just mix up their feed right there.
Why didn't you share this before I took our old chest freezer to the tip??! But I should have thought of it - The dry dog food lives in an old fridge outside - the canine 'critters' are the main ones needing to be locked away from it!
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
horselovinguy yeah I've noticed that with mares as well. A mini mare we moved straight up colicked and had to go home.

The hay is Tifton 9. It costs the same as the bermuda rolls (60 a roll, but they're big. Fair price I think and cheaper than square bales).

Wondering why you've chosen those 2 feeds together?
The Empower isn't a feed, it's a supplement. It's high fat and has pro/preboitics. I'm feeding it because he IS a hard keeper, despite how good he looks now. He looked absolutely terrible when he was on the SafeChoice senior feed. I don't know why, but all the senior feeds I've looked at have about 8% fat in them (excluding Triple Crown, I think theirs is higher). The performance feed I'm giving him has 12% fat. I thought senior feeds were supposed to have more fat and performance higher protein+fat? But yes, he's getting all this fat because otherwise he's scrawny.

And I do think the glucosamine is a little useless. MSM is an anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant which has done way more for him than the glucosamine has. I'm going to have to start ordering it though because TSC charges an arm and a leg for their stuff.

Again, why have you chosen to feed her these things? If she was 'pudgy', why did you feel the need for oats & alfalfa - both high calorie, high energy feed. Is she in hard work?
Because I need to feed her something and I don't want to give a pellet. She was pudgy because of the sheer amount of grass at the place she was before. We don't have the best pasture here, so I knew I was going to have to at least give her something like alfalfa pellets (the Standlee brand has mastered the preserving of nutrients even in their hay pellets) at a minimum. The cold weather's coming on and she'll need some higher fat/protein feed. Oats actually have a decently high fat content, which alfalfa doesn't. Also, the phosphorus in the oats is balanced out by the calcium in the alfalfa. I'm still experimenting with the amounts and if she becomes hot and silly, I'll adjust or maybe find a different feed. Beet pulp is an option too. I did try feeding rice bran for fat and hated it. Too messy and pretty useless. Unless it's fortified like Empower, I don't like using it.

And she's going to go back into work soon. She was out of work because she tore up her hoof. After the farrier dealt with it she never took a lame step, but I've waited for the wound to harden a bit and am still trying to keep thrushy stuff out of it. I do think the footing was one of the reasons her hoof was so damaged anyhow. The constant stress of her foot getting wet then dry made her hooves brittle and chippy. The old man's soles suffered and he got a couple of abscesses. Was so lame one day I couldn't pick up either of his front feet.
 

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Have you thought about or looked at Blue Seal Hay Stretcher?
Sold at TS stores...
Higher in energy but lower in fiber that you not need if eating hay is not a problem for Tess.... :unsure:
A hay based product..

You mention the hay you want to feed is Tifton 9...
You gain nothing over the Coastal with that variation.
Do you not have Tifton 44 or better is Tifton 88 rolls?
I scored 5 rolls shared between a friend and myself of 88 one time...
What a difference, sadly though not easy to find near me.
If you are closer to Georgia than central or southern Florida, Tifton 88 is grown yet up their and might be beneficial to see if anyone nearby you handles it...price is about the same, quality is way different.
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Discussion Starter #6
It is Tifton 9. It's either that or costal and it's all I've got. I would go to GA if I had a large farm and places to store the hay, but I have a 20 year old tacoma and a single-axel flatbed trailer that can just hold a big round bale. I'm in very NW FL so GA would be a trip.

I've never really had an issue with costal before. It's alright as long as it's good. The bale I got is definitely cow hay.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Bringing this back. I need a new round bale (the one I got lasted over a month!) and I have two options at this one place. Argentina or peanut. I'd love to feed peanut as it'd mean I could feed a little less alfalfa to Tess to keep weight on her and it might be beneficial for my old dude. But it is higher protein and I've heard that older horses needed less protein and more fat rather than the other way around (which makes me wonder why there's so much protein in senior feeds??). It is also highly palatable, and I'd actually prefer the horses stay by the bale than graze right now since we've got mostly dirt in the "pasture" now.

What does everyone think? I would have to make the transition slowly to avoid tummy upsets but that goes for any feed change.
 

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I'm sorry, I haven't fed either types of hay (they're not available in my area). However, I've heard great things about peanut hay - apparently, it's nutritionally similar to alfalfa?
Senior horses typically need more protein than their younger counterparts, as they are not as efficient at utilizing it.
 
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