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 The Grand Debate- Equine Nutrition

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Wil-If-I-Want



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PostSubject: The Grand Debate- Equine Nutrition   Wed Jan 25, 2012 11:25 am

There are so many theories and so many different options available to us. I just thought I'd try to get a thread going here! I know some/most of us feel very strongly about our horse's diet.

1) a) How much hay does your horse consume on a daily basis. (in all seasons)
b) On that note: how do you feel about free choice?
c) Do you have your hay tested?

2) a) how much pasture does your horse have access to in the warmer months?
b) do you restrict pasture intake? if so, why.
c) Is your pasture tested?

3) a) What sort of grain/ration balancer do you feed.
b) What sort of ratio do you feed while your horse is on pasture.
c) what sort of grain/feed do you refuse to feed your horse? why?

4) What, if anything extra... do you feed your super easy keeper that is regularly exercised.

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Barefoot_Horsegirl

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PostSubject: Re: The Grand Debate- Equine Nutrition   Wed Jan 25, 2012 11:57 am

I have a herd of 4 very easy keepers. At this point all they are eating is basically free choice hay, water, salt and loose minerals. I am waiting back on a hay test and at that point I will start supplementing with the pure form of the minerals that they need, mixed in a small handful of soaked beet pulp or hay cubes. I think my horses are currently getting a little too much hay. They are quite plump. We spread our hay over 4 acres so they get quite a bit of movement.

I think that free choice hay for easy keepers is a bad idea, but free choice can mean a couple different things. Free choice with a slow feeder or free choice loose hay. They should be getting 2-3% of their body weight per day and that's it. A fat horse is not a healthy horse. They should have ACCESS to hay free choice, but not a full out buffet. This is where slow feeders are key. 20-30LBS of hay for one horse spread out in slow feeders should last a full 24hrs. 20-30LBS of loose hay in one pile won't last half that.

My horses are on free choice pasture in the summer and its not tested. Even if it was it wouldn't matter because as far as I know the nutrient/mineral content changes throughout the day.

I don't feed any processed feeds. Unless your testing your hay your wasting your time feeding a 'ration balancer'. If my horses needed to gain weight I would use BOSS, flax, a bit of oats, soaked molasses free BP and hay cubes.

If you want more info then you know what to do with on this topic, I would recommend you join the Equine Cushing group on Yahoo. Even if your horse doesn't have cushings there is unlimited information on feeding the horse, especially the IR prone horse and how to balance minerals after hay testing.

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brighteyes

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PostSubject: Re: The Grand Debate- Equine Nutrition   Wed Jan 25, 2012 11:37 pm

The horses at my barn are currently on full access 1st cut hay, which is something I strongly agree with. Given that horses are natural grazers its best for their digestive system to try to keep their feeding habits as natural as possible. We also have 2nd cut hay but its really nutrient rich so its only given a bit or for horses who need some help with gaining weight. Both types are home grown and are absolutely gorgeous.

When graining its important to not feed too much, and to do so according to your horses workload. During the winter-or anytime that your horse isn't getting worked a lot (if you've got good hay and said horse isn't growing or elderly) There should be no reason to give a large amount grain if only as a little treat.

Both of mine get purina HiFat HiFiber and some Equalizer, right now my 4 y/o just gets 2 cups of HIF and a cup of E, and he dosnt even need that. i rarely ride him because of the weather, he was getting that twice a day but when we moved him he went from 1175 to now 1210 since the beginning of October, hes 15.2

My other horse gets ridden on avg 4 days a week and he seems to be a bit of a hard keeper, hes at a different facility and though the hay quality there seems to be pretty good as well, he gets a scoop and a quarter of those commercial feed scoops twice a day and a cup of equalizer, during the summer/fall he was being ridden 6-7 days a week he was getting a full two scoops and a cup of equalizer. Hes 17hh.
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~TC~



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PostSubject: Re: The Grand Debate- Equine Nutrition   Wed Jan 25, 2012 11:55 pm


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

There are so many theories and so many different options available to us. I just thought I'd try to get a thread going here! I know some/most of us feel very strongly about our horse's diet.

1) a) How much hay does your horse consume on a daily basis. (in all seasons)
b) On that note: how do you feel about free choice?
c) Do you have your hay tested?

Free choice... recently added a net to my roundbales for less wastage.
free choice is better then long periods without food.. Horses need to eat often for a healthy digestive system..
Yes, I have my hay tested.


2) a) how much pasture does your horse have access to in the warmer months?
b) do you restrict pasture intake? if so, why.
c) Is your pasture tested?


My two horses have 5 acres summer and winter
I do not restrict at this time..
I will be having my pasture tested this summer for sure.



3) a) What sort of grain/ration balancer do you feed.
b) What sort of ratio do you feed while your horse is on pasture.
c) what sort of grain/feed do you refuse to feed your horse? why?

I do not feed grain. I give a little bit of beet pulp. Once I learn to read my hay analysis properly, I will do what BF horsegirl is doing, and make my own supplement to compliment my hay source. So no ratio in the summer to go off of.
I refuse sweet feed. Molasses doesn't belong in a horse. Period.

4) What, if anything extra... do you feed your super easy keeper that is regularly exercised.

I don't have easy keepers or hard keepers. If I had easy keepers, I would definilty test for IR, then adjust diet accordingly...





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Becca

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PostSubject: Re: The Grand Debate- Equine Nutrition   Thu Jan 26, 2012 12:20 am


1) a) How much hay does your horse consume on a daily basis. (in all seasons)
b) On that note: how do you feel about free choice?
c) Do you have your hay tested?

I agree with the girls, I love the idea of free choice as that is how the horses digestive tracked is built. My guy is on 3 feedings of 3 flakes a day. And our supplier gets his hay tested and has results on hand for anyone that asks for it.

2) a) how much pasture does your horse have access to in the warmer months?
b) do you restrict pasture intake? if so, why.
c) Is your pasture tested?

N/A.

3) a) What sort of grain/ration balancer do you feed.
b) What sort of ratio do you feed while your horse is on pasture.
c) what sort of grain/feed do you refuse to feed your horse? why?

Highfathifibre and equalizer. N/A. And sweetfeed, because it is feeding big macs to horses pretty much.

4) What, if anything extra... do you feed your super easy keeper that is regularly exercised.
We have a few easy keepers at the barn, one that is a pony that is in heavy workload and still really fat. He is on just a 1 cup of equalizer.
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Wil-If-I-Want



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PostSubject: Re: The Grand Debate- Equine Nutrition   Thu Jan 26, 2012 9:10 am

Guess I should answer my own questions!! ouups! I also have some questions.

1) a) How much hay does your horse consume on a daily basis. (in all seasons)
Right now she has free choice, in the spring/fall they have 3 feeding a day & in the summer they eat grass and don't touch the hay.
b) On that note: how do you feel about free choice? I agree with everyone else.
c) Do you have your hay tested? no. I want to look into this - the BO makes his own hay but as far as I know, nothing is tested.

2) a) how much pasture does your horse have access to in the warmer months?
10 acres (5-8 horses)
b) do you restrict pasture intake? if so, why. Presently no, but I've been thinking about restricting access.. although I haven't had any problems. I read some horror stories that make me freak out.
c) Is your pasture tested? Again no, but I'd like it to be!

3) a) What sort of grain/ration balancer do you feed. I only feed Willow 3x a week.. some Accelorator plus mixed with a little boss. It's more or less a treat for her as she LOVES it.
b) What sort of ratio do you feed while your horse is on pasture. Typically nothing, but recently started with the accelorator plus.
c) what sort of grain/feed do you refuse to feed your horse? why? Nothing with mollases.. I can't remember the last time I fed my mare processed "grain"...

4) What, if anything extra... do you feed your super easy keeper that is regularly exercised

THIS is my question. I thought IR horses showed symptoms ie: abnormal fatty deposits, especially along the crest, rump, and above the eyes. My mare isn't abnormally fat - rather she maintains a healthy weight off her hay. She's seen the vet every year and they've never once mentioned IR to me?
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~TC~



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PostSubject: Re: The Grand Debate- Equine Nutrition   Thu Jan 26, 2012 8:34 pm

I would ask them about IR... This is where knowledge is power.. If you are aware of IR, and know the signs, ask them to do a bloodtest, just to be sure.

I wouldn't wait for them to bring it up...just in case they didn't think of it...


Quote :
My horses are on free choice pasture in the summer and its not tested. Even if it was it wouldn't matter because as far as I know the nutrient/mineral content changes throughout the day.

I would still have it done... Sugars may change but minerals like copper, vitamins, iron etc, would remain the same. or you may not have it at all, like we know we do not have selenium... but what if your pasture is missing something else? Or has too much of something... ? Important to know for sure.

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Fiere

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PostSubject: Re: The Grand Debate- Equine Nutrition   Fri Jan 27, 2012 12:49 am

1) a) How much hay does your horse consume on a daily basis. (in all seasons)
b) On that note: how do you feel about free choice?
c) Do you have your hay tested?

I go through a square bale a day, per horse, which is pretty close to free choice. I never skimp on hay.
I do not have my hay tested. My hayman has several fields he plows from so without testing every new bale I get in, I will never know whats in the hay. Levels can change a lot within the same field, let alone from fields miles away from each other. It's just an expense I can't justify, however I believe it is a good idea, for reasons posted above.

2) a) how much pasture does your horse have access to in the warmer months?
b) do you restrict pasture intake? if so, why.
c) Is your pasture tested?

My pasture, likewise isn't tested. My horses are on 24/7 turnout from late spring till late autumn, no restrictions. I do supplement their grazing with hay. I think their paddock is 1/2 acre and their field is 3 or 4 acres.

3) a) What sort of grain/ration balancer do you feed.
b) What sort of ratio do you feed while your horse is on pasture.
c) what sort of grain/feed do you refuse to feed your horse? why?

My horses are usually fed Equalizer, flax, beet pulp, hay cubes and I add BOSS in the winter. My hard-er keeper gets 4 lbs of Fat n Fiber and soy meal. This year I have also added a big ration of hay stretch into their mush of BP and hay cubes. They have free choice mineral blocks in their stalls.
I try to feed a diet as low in sugar as possible, this, in today's feed market, is difficult, as I do need to feed processed feed since no amount of other stuff I give him keeps weight on him.

4) What, if anything extra... do you feed your super easy keeper that is regularly exercised.

My pony is super, super easy to keep. I fed him Equalizer, flax, BOSS and beet pulp. Hay cubes give him diarrhea (think the alfalfa is too rich for him, even though I buy 50/50 mix). I adjust that mix depending on work level. However, put him on a sugared or processed mix and he starts dropping weight, he likes a simple, easy to digest meal. He is probably IR, he doesn't have all the symptoms but the ones he does are calling card.

*My stbd gelding I call a hard-er keeper bc he tends to lose weight if his diet is off. Once you find the mix for him, he stays nice and built-up easily. He is usually 'lean' with a defined chest, a covering of fat over the topline and a bigger rump, you can always easily feel ribs but when he is doing well you can't see but the last two unless he is stretched out.
My APHA mare has always stayed nice in her old home off of just hay and a bit of molasses-free grain as a treat a few days a week (from my understanding). Here, the hay is not all that great and without supplementation she would start to lose. I would define her as an 'easy keeper' because she can maintain well so long as her nutritional needs are met, and doesn't need 'extras'. She is bulldoggy and has a thick chest, a nice covering of fat over her back and ribs and a big apple bum.
The pony is THICK (cob-like almost) and keeps his muscle very well, but also keeps a borderline excessive amount of fat on him. He also has a huge crest, though I'd say that has a bit to do with his being gelded late and having VERY studdy characteristics. I do think he is bordering on, if not already, IR.
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~TC~



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PostSubject: Re: The Grand Debate- Equine Nutrition   Sat Jan 28, 2012 6:19 pm

Quote :
I do not have my hay tested. My hayman has several fields he plows from so without testing every new bale I get in, I will never know whats in the hay. Levels can change a lot within the same field, let alone from fields miles away from each other. It's just an expense I can't justify, however I believe it is a good idea, for reasons posted above.

Going to use your comment as an example for what a lot of horse owners think... (As I did as well at one time).

If all that you mentioned was the case, why would dairy and beef farmers bother to test their hay and pastures?

If horse owners do not ask our hay providers to test, They won't bother, but once they realize we want it, and will go to another hay provider who does, they will quickly change their tune.

If the hay comes off several fiels, and you will be getting a bit here and there from each field as winter rolls on, this is why an average of all the hay is tested in one test. Gives you a better idea of the diet the horse will be consuming throughout the winter. You definitely would not test each individual bale.

Level's can be be different from field to field, yes, but again, this is why an average is taken..
The expense is rather cheap... probably less then $30 bucks...

In the end, if your hay provider won't and he knows you can't get hay elsewhere, due to lack of hay around, and he just doesn't care what you want... then test it yourself. You can borrow a core sampler from your local agriculture dept, and when ther hay is being baled in a particular field, run out and grab a sample from the recommended amount of bales, put it in a bag and run to the next field when they get it baled, and do the same. Put it in the same bag... and send it off as one sample...one fee. You get the results within a couple days via email...

If you do not know how to read it and balance accordingly, you can pay a small fee of $40 to have someone do it for you. THEN, buy your mineral/vitamin mixture that compliments your hay.

Compared to buying bags and bags of prepackaged feeds, and broad spectrum supplements, these costs are very low. And in the end, will be benefiting your horses ten fold. Balanced nutrition is essential, every function of the horse's body depends on this...

I changed my way of thinking because of my lack of understanding.. The fads of feeding vegetable oil, flax, BOSS, biotin, Kelp, etc etc... They are all good in their own way...but what concerned me, is how feeding one, would effect the results of the other...







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Hug a Horse Farm



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PostSubject: Re: The Grand Debate- Equine Nutrition   Sat Jan 28, 2012 10:33 pm

Wil-If-I-Want wrote:


THIS is my question. I thought IR horses showed symptoms ie: abnormal fatty deposits, especially along the crest, rump, and above the eyes. My mare isn't abnormally fat - rather she maintains a healthy weight off her hay. She's seen the vet every year and they've never once mentioned IR to me?

My vet did not know how to test for IR. I learned from the Equine Cushings site to ask for an insulin and a glucose test. The lab results both came back in the 'normal' range BUT it is the ratio of one to the other that is telling. Most vets don't know this. (my vet owned IR horses himself and still fed grain) anyway, my old horse had NO outward symptoms of IR because his care was appropriate for many years. BUT his results were VERY IR, a tad above 'extreme' risk of laminitis/founder. This just galvanized me to stick with the program .
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Wil-If-I-Want



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PostSubject: Re: The Grand Debate- Equine Nutrition   Sat Jan 28, 2012 11:00 pm

Well.. Willow eats hay.. no grain.

She's got great hooves (has never had so much as a crack) and a great coat. She's has draft like conformation (sire is a 16hh very thick Canadian, dam is a thick 14.1hh QH)

Just for comparison.. Jes Chef Franna is quite the chunk of a horse.


The only time I ever worry is when she has acces to pasture 24/7.. I'd like to perhaps keep her in part of the day.. or use an anti grazing muzzle this summer.

The problem is my horse does not needle well.. AT ALL... I'm not sure we could get any blood, but we can try.
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Fiere

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PostSubject: Re: The Grand Debate- Equine Nutrition   Sun Jan 29, 2012 2:00 am

Thanks for the info, TC!

My hayman might test if I asked. He is one of those people that would do it himself out of curiosity. I will have to bring it up to him before the season this year.
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Barefoot_Horsegirl

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PostSubject: Re: The Grand Debate- Equine Nutrition   Sun Jan 29, 2012 9:53 am

~TC~ wrote:
I would ask them about IR... This is where knowledge is power.. If you are aware of IR, and know the signs, ask them to do a bloodtest, just to be sure.

I wouldn't wait for them to bring it up...just in case they didn't think of it...


Quote :
My horses are on free choice pasture in the summer and its not tested. Even if it was it wouldn't matter because as far as I know the nutrient/mineral content changes throughout the day.

I would still have it done... Sugars may change but minerals like copper, vitamins, iron etc, would remain the same. or you may not have it at all, like we know we do not have selenium... but what if your pasture is missing something else? Or has too much of something... ? Important to know for sure.
I have at least 1 horse that I would like to have tested for IR (I'm 99% sure they have it). How much is the test? I can't see myself soaking hay for 4 horses before feeding if the horse does test positive though....Lazy? Yes!

Do the mineral values change as well TC? I know that Hugahorse used hay cut off the same field for two years in a row and each year the mineral content was different. Will it just shift from year to year?
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Barefoot_Horsegirl

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PostSubject: Re: The Grand Debate- Equine Nutrition   Sun Jan 29, 2012 10:03 am

Unfortunatly grain isn't the only problem.

Even just hay can be too much for an IR horse depending on how much sugar is in the hay. When doing a hay test they will also tell you how much sugar the hay contains (depending on where you get your test). If the hay is above a certain % of sugars, members on the Yahoo IR/Cushings group are advised to soak their hay for at least an hour to rinse out the sugar (and then drain and soak again if levels are really high).

If you know you have an IR horse and can get hay that tests low in sugars, no soaking is required.

Also, you would want an IR horse on a maximum of 2-3% of their weight in hay per day, no more.

My clients horses who have access to NO grass (not because of IR but because of living situation) have the best hooves. Coincidence? I don't think.

Wil-If-I-Want wrote:
Well.. Willow eats hay.. no grain.

She's got great hooves (has never had so much as a crack) and a great coat. She's has draft like conformation (sire is a 16hh very thick Canadian, dam is a thick 14.1hh QH)

Just for comparison.. Jes Chef Franna is quite the chunk of a horse.


The only time I ever worry is when she has acces to pasture 24/7.. I'd like to perhaps keep her in part of the day.. or use an anti grazing muzzle this summer.

The problem is my horse does not needle well.. AT ALL... I'm not sure we could get any blood, but we can try.
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Hug a Horse Farm



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PostSubject: Re: The Grand Debate- Equine Nutrition   Sun Jan 29, 2012 10:29 am

Minerals in hay cut from the same field does change! From one day to the next! From one year to the next. Temperature, cloud cover, wind, ground moisture, etc all effect what gets taken up that day in your filed. Sure certain minerals are more likely to be there from year to year as the geology of the ground doesn't change but how much is in the grass does!
Sugars are more likely in younger hay and second cut hay put in in the fall in colder weather. I have not had a problem with sugar in hay and never soak, even for the IR horse. The hay was cut mid July each year.
Iron changes a LOT and is the biggest issue as it interferes with the uptake of copper and zinc in particular. This year my hay tested so well if it weren't for the extra iron, I wouldn't need to add almost any minerals to balance things out.
EXCEPT selenium. Never enough selenium in maritime hay!!!! Mine has .03 mg in 25lbs of hay. A horse needs at .2mg daily.
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PostSubject: Re: The Grand Debate- Equine Nutrition   Sun Jan 29, 2012 11:38 am

Sorry... I worded it wrong... I didn't mean to say they wouldn't change... I meant more for the presence of the mineral. We lack selenium... Will we have it later today? Can't see it... lol To at least find out what there is or isn't would be something to go on.... so you are not over supplementing... or missing out on a needed mineral al together because the broad band mixture bought at the feed store doesn't cover it...

I didn't know last week that we are high in iron and what that would do to other minerals.. I didn't know what the high iron could cause ailments we see everyday...

So now that I know, and if my analysis says My hay on average across the field, is very high, then I should be addressing it for the health of my horse.

As for the pasture analysis... For me it would be important to know what my pasture is lacking... ie selenium is a given, but copper or magnesium is important as well... especially if I will be working my horse hard all summer...


Instead of soaking hay, a slow feeder would help....
some steam it..but I am unsure if that effects the sugar... ?

I am taking the NRC plus course... learning about Digestive system this week. minerals and vitamins are in the weeks to come... I will start making more sense when I type.. lol




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~TC~



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PostSubject: Re: The Grand Debate- Equine Nutrition   Tue Jun 19, 2012 8:07 pm

Just an update.

My analysis showed VERY high iron. Which is normal for NS and PEI.
Had to add magnesium, zinc, copper and selenium of course.
As well as iodine and salt so I feed table salt as well.
It's been a week. Huge change in my mare's coat. Also weight wise she looks better.
Can't wait to see how her feet and frogs change. High iron can cause cruddy hoof walls. Crappy frogs as well as skin issues like mud fever and rain rot.

Will keep you all posted. :)

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