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Robin@DHH
Oct. 28, 2011, 11:59 AM
I was at a Purina seminar last evening and the presenter said
that pasture grass furnishes all the nutrition a horse needs but
hay does not. I know that vitamin A diminishes in hay over
time but what else is lost from grass to hay?

And is it true that grass contains all the nutrients a horse
needs? I am doubtful about this assertion as I have been told
that the land in my area is lacking in selenium and I don't see
how the grass could contain enough when the soil does not.

whbar158
Oct. 28, 2011, 12:05 PM
Moisture? I dunno I know horses that pretty much live on just hay and look great (I really don't think the handful of grain they get is doing much for vits/mins). I am sure that there is grass out there that can provide everything a horse needs, but not all grass and not all horses have access to good grass.

Halt Near X
Oct. 28, 2011, 12:44 PM
Hay loses Vitamin E pretty quickly.

trubandloki
Oct. 28, 2011, 12:48 PM
I am doubtful about this assertion as I have been told
that the land in my area is lacking in selenium and I don't see
how the grass could contain enough when the soil does not.
If your area is selenium deficient then yes, your grass and hay are too.

deltawave
Oct. 28, 2011, 12:51 PM
Moisture. :)

The assertion that horses can live on hay/forage alone assumes that the forage contains enough of the micronutrients (selenium, etc.) as well as the essential amino acids. It is more than just calories.

Under good circumstances, good soil, etc. and assuming the variety of forage is suitable for horses, of course they can do fine on hay/grass alone.

Real Rush
Oct. 28, 2011, 01:04 PM
Ditto the loss of vitmain E. Once grass is cut, it loses quite a bit, and the longer it's stored (the older the hay is) the less it contains. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant and helps support the immune system, and recently has shown to be beneficial for the reproduction process. Fresh grass also contains selenium from the soil it grows in, and horses must ingest selenium in order for their bodies to absorb the vit. E. Mostly for these reasons is why some people choose to use a vit E/selenium supplement.

This is where a very strong word of caution comes into play. There is no known level of toxicity for vit E in horses. That means you can practically feed all you want with no adverse side effects. However, horses are extremely sensitive to selenium, and have a very low toxicity threshold. So while you must have some selenium in order for them to utilize the E, you must be careful not to overdo it. Always check and find out if the soil in your area is deficient or not, check how much selenium is in the feeds you feed and any other supplements you use before adding in a selenium/vit E supplement. Ideally, for a full grown horse, you do not want to exceed 4 mg of selenium a day.

There are plenty of supplements containing E by itself on the market. And incidentally, recent studies have shown that the natural form of vit E (d-alpha tocopherol) may be more easily absorbed and utilized than the synthetic form (dl-alpha tocopherol).

Fairview Horse Center
Oct. 28, 2011, 01:20 PM
I have several horses on the farm that thrive on pretty much grass hay alone. They do have sparse pasture, but that pretty much goes to nothing in drought or winter. They get a handful of a basic grain so they think they are getting something when the other horses get fed.

One of those was a nursing mare eating the same way during her pregnancy and nursing her babies. Both foals placed at Dressage at Devon. She herself won her class, and was 4th place USDF Maiden and Yeld Mare for the year.

She is healthy and sound as are her offspring.

D Taylor
Oct. 28, 2011, 01:52 PM
Pasture often allows grazing of plants that are generally not present in hay fields. Just one example- plantain. Plantain is really good source of several microminerals.

JB
Oct. 28, 2011, 02:04 PM
I was at a Purina seminar last evening and the presenter said
that pasture grass furnishes all the nutrition a horse needs but
hay does not.
How can he say that? Yet another reason I dislike Purina :no:

COULD pasture provide all the nutrition a horse needs? Yes - if the soil is meticulously cared for, the horse isn't too easy a keeper, and he's not in work.

But many, many soils are deficient or proficient (is that the right term here?) in something, either due to the geography, or over-farming. Selenium is typically deficient around here, and it's not uncommon to have to supplement it. My soil is high in iron, can't do a thing about that either, which means lower levels of copper in any grass or hay growing on it.

JB
Oct. 28, 2011, 02:05 PM
Pasture often allows grazing of plants that are generally not present in hay fields. Just one example- plantain. Plantain is really good source of several microminerals.

My horses ought to be maxed out on microminerals then LOL Good grief that stuff took OVER this year :( The guy who tilled my pasture, who also does hay for a living, said it's taken over everywhere.

Good to know it's at least got some use!

HydroPHILE
Oct. 28, 2011, 02:10 PM
Aren't there quite a few variables that go into this assumption? Type of grass, type of hay, region in which you live, soil contents, soil type, etc.?

JoZ
Oct. 28, 2011, 02:12 PM
This is where a very strong word of caution comes into play. There is no known level of toxicity for vit E in horses. That means you can practically feed all you want with no adverse side effects.

Is that really what it means? "No known level" to me means "there might be a level, but we haven't found it yet". I always thought that Vitamin E was a fat-soluble vitamin for which the excess would be stored (perhaps detrimentally) in the tissues. As opposed to a water-soluble vitamin like Vitamin C for which the excess is simply flushed. Of course that's one of those factoids I have never researched more deeply...

ETA: this article states pretty much what I was trying to say (http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=10736) -- so either there is a big diff between human and horse vitamin metabolism, or I'd be really reluctant to say there is no toxic level of E...

ACP
Oct. 28, 2011, 02:14 PM
We've got a coming 20 year old mare, about 1,000 pounds, around 15.1, medium amount of work 4-5 days a week. She gets a very small amount of grain, about the amount in a coffee mug - not a coffee can - a mug. She's fat, slick, full of energy. I wish they were all that easy to keep!

You can take soil samples from various places in your pasture and have them tested to find out what is lacking in your soil. I think the county extension agent does it.

Real Rush
Oct. 28, 2011, 02:39 PM
Is that really what it means? "No known level" to me means "there might be a level, but we haven't found it yet". I always thought that Vitamin E was a fat-soluble vitamin for which the excess would be stored (perhaps detrimentally) in the tissues. As opposed to a water-soluble vitamin like Vitamin C for which the excess is simply flushed. Of course that's one of those factoids I have never researched more deeply...

Here are a few articles I could find at the spur of the moment. The very first one discusses the possible extrapolation between humans and horses:

http://www.thehorse.com/ViewArticle.aspx?ID=5254
http://www.thehorse.com/ViewArticle.aspx?ID=12025
http://www.thehorse.com/ViewArticle.aspx?ID=1542
http://www.thehorse.com/ViewArticle.aspx?ID=1769

One article sited the fact that horses suffering from severe neurological disease are treated with 30,000 IU a day. The average vitamin E supplement only contains between 1,000 and 5,000 IU per serving (depending on manufacturer).

Real Rush
Oct. 28, 2011, 02:47 PM
Pasture often allows grazing of plants that are generally not present in hay fields. Just one example- plantain. Plantain is really good source of several microminerals.

And I learned something new today! This prompted a Google image search since I didn't know what plantain grass looks like. Only plantain I knew were the bananas! :lol: Someone years ago told me it was psyllium, but other than that had no clue. They do kinda resemble each other...

Katy Watts
Oct. 28, 2011, 04:51 PM
Plantain is really good source of several microminerals.

IF.... the soil has enough to begin with, which sometimes it doesn't.

When chilled, it is also very high in sugar and FOS, of the same type that is used to induce laminitis. I know of 2 cases of colic with laminitis in the fall where plantain was the primary plant being eaten. Lots of plantain is a sign of overgrazing without rotational rest periods.

alterhorse
Oct. 28, 2011, 05:05 PM
Most importantly are the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.. IMO.

Perfect Pony
Oct. 28, 2011, 05:14 PM
Most importantly are the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.. IMO.

According to a nutritionist, most important is Vitamin E and Omega 3s.

I wouldn't brag about NOT supplementing mares and foals that aren't on green pasture. I had a mare who had neurological deficits most likely because she did not get enough vitamin E through her mother or as a foal. Do a search on Equine EDM. The good news is you can almost completely prevent it by supplementing mares and foals.

Just because a horse "looks fine" doesn't mean that they don't have lasting effects due to poor nutrition.

Foxtrot's
Oct. 28, 2011, 05:19 PM
At a nutritional seminar I went to they said that Vitamin K was lost in hay.

Here, in the wet PNW with the rainy summer, all the pastures tested were lacking in a lot of nutrients, including Selenium. So horses on local hay need to be supplemented with ration balancer (which is formulated for here).

D Taylor
Oct. 28, 2011, 08:15 PM
IF.... the soil has enough to begin with, which sometimes it doesn't.

When chilled, it is also very high in sugar and FOS, of the same type that is used to induce laminitis. I know of 2 cases of colic with laminitis in the fall where plantain was the primary plant being eaten. Lots of plantain is a sign of overgrazing without rotational rest periods.

And the point of soil fertility and plant nutrient content was already made by others. The purpose of my post was to offer other explanation and give a possible example.

Kit
Oct. 29, 2011, 06:57 AM
He's selling a product.... Our horses all live fine on mostly hay and grass seed straw. Fat as butter. Our pastures at the moment are full of sugar with the spring flush so best to keep them well off it :) I give mine a good mineral supplement in a scoop of plain oaten chaff each day as well though. We're low on selenium here too but also if they don't have access to grass, I want to make up for anything they are missing.

Real Rush
Oct. 29, 2011, 07:43 AM
We're low on selenium here too but also if they don't have access to grass, I want to make up for anything they are missing.

This! When I learned years ago about the importance of vitamin E, I have always supplemented during the winter or when there's no grass due to drought, and my broodmares stay on it year round and the foals once they're weaned, at least until they're a year old (if they're not sold by then).

It's like I told a friend of mine recently.... With all the stuff we're constantly learning about what is good/bad/necessary for a horse's nutrition, I want to provide the very best I can for my guys. Will they shrivel up and die if I don't give them the very best I can afford? No. Millions of horses have lived long, productive lives over the ages without any kind of nutritional improvement or enrichment. But that doesn't mean I want to ignore what current research proves or just go by what people have done over the years. Keep your mind open, learn everything you can, and form your own opinion.

rcloisonne
Oct. 29, 2011, 08:53 AM
You can take soil samples from various places in your pasture and have them tested to find out what is lacking in your soil. I think the county extension agent does it.
Far better to test your hay and pasture. Just because certain nutrients are present in the soil doesn't mean the plants are absorbing them.

JB
Oct. 29, 2011, 11:40 AM
You test the soil to get better forage.

You test the forage to see what else the horse might need, in most cases.

For some things, like selenium and Vit E, you really, really should just test the horse, as it doesn't matter what's in the forage.

Foxtrot's
Oct. 29, 2011, 03:51 PM
It is unusual to have the use of the field this late in the year, but since they love it so much I put them out - but I notice that my mare has lost a little weight, even though she's eating her head off out there. The grass is so full of sugar and not much else right now, but growing like crazy. There are only a few more days left before the heavy rains land on us. Deep rooted plants help bring up some of the nutrients, but my field is mostly for their pleasure and they get full feeds as well.

Beentheredonethat
Oct. 29, 2011, 10:38 PM
I brought this up before, but it's something to think about. When my mare was pregnant four years ago she was on pasture and fed hay. She had a dry coat and my neurotic, overly cautious vet friend insisted I do a blood test. Nothing came up, so she insisted on doing another one for vitamin A, which is almost unheard of. Even her associate who took the blood never heard of it and there are only two labs in the country that do it. She came back very low in E and selenium and MASSIVELY deficient in vitamin A.

It took a LOT of research to find anything on this, as almost no one talks about vitamin A deficiency, but overdosing, as it is a fat soluble vitamin. I finally bought human vitamin A and supplemented her 150 ICUs (I think, I may be adding or subtracting an extra 0 here) a day plus the vitamin E and selenium I always give. Within 2 weeks, her coat completely turned around. She had a very healthy baby. The barn owner had a mare due the same day and did not pay attention to the dry coat, or all of the horses at the barn itching their tails and eating poop. Her baby died at birth.

I do not know if that had anything to do with it, but it's coincidental. The reading I did said vitamin A deficiency is a problem with pregnant mares, especially in late winter and early spring when they can't get fresh grass or good hay. It's always a good idea to supplement them. I still keep my mare on about 50 ICU's a day of A, plus the selenium and E.

As everyone says, it depends on the soil where you are, or where they hay is grown. I would always be extra cautious with a pregnant mare, too.

mswillie
Oct. 30, 2011, 12:26 AM
Ideally, for a full grown horse, you do not want to exceed 4 grams of selenium a day.



I think you meant to type milligrams.

JB
Oct. 30, 2011, 10:57 AM
Goodness yes, mg, not gm! :eek: Easy typo to make, I'm sure real meant that :)

But horses aren't all "ideal". You have to find what works for that horse. At one point I was *adding* 6mg (yes, 6, not a typo) to my WB gelding's diet to try to raise his levels. It didn't budge it.

Regarding Selenium, always always test the blood and go from there. It does not matter one iota what's in the forage, or in the grain, etc. All that matters is what's in the blood, and you either add, or you find a way to reduce it.

Perfect Pony
Oct. 30, 2011, 12:54 PM
For some things, like Vit E, you really, really should just test the horse, as it doesn't matter what's in the forage.

Actually I have been told that you really should just supplement the horse with vitamin E if the horse is not on green pasture full time, espeically if you are talking about pregnant mares and young horses. The blood test is only a moment in time and levels fluctuate. It absolutely DOES matter what is in the forage, and if a horse is on hay instead of pasture he/she absolutely is not getting enough vitamin E.

marley
Oct. 30, 2011, 05:55 PM
How can he say that? Yet another reason I dislike Purina :no:

COULD pasture provide all the nutrition a horse needs? Yes - if the soil is meticulously cared for, the horse isn't too easy a keeper, and he's not in work.

But many, many soils are deficient or proficient (is that the right term here?) in something, either due to the geography, or over-farming. Selenium is typically deficient around here, and it's not uncommon to have to supplement it. My soil is high in iron, can't do a thing about that either, which means lower levels of copper in any grass or hay growing on it.

THIS!!! And I second the Purina thing!

Real Rush
Oct. 31, 2011, 09:41 AM
I think you meant to type milligrams.

Yes, thank you for correcting me. Sorry, trying to think of an easy, coherent way to say things and typing too fast caught up with me. I edited it to show the correct wordage.