Best feed program to manage a barn with mixed needs?
I think the wonderful world of COTH can help me here with some of their personal experiences.
I am trying to decide how to to manage feed for my new small barn. All are full time working horses, but with different personalities and ages. I want to be able to meet the needs of every horse without keeping 12 different feeds on hand. I want the horses to look fabulous and the boarders to be happy.
What seems to be typical here at most boarding barns is they offer a 'complete feed' pellet and oats +/- beat pulp. Some people also top dress a loose mineral that the boarder would provide, most boarding barns don't offer this as part of their included feeed. Ration balancers are uncommom but Masterfeeds makes one called VTM20 which I have access too. We live in a Se defficient area.
My first inclination is to have a ration balancer, oats, beat pulp and flax available. Horses who need the energy/calories can get RB plus more oats/flax, air ferns/ones that don't do well on oats can get the RB and beat pulp/flax for some extra fibre/calories. I am thinking of a RB instead of a regular 'complete feed' since I thought it might be better for the ones who need less calories, and would avoid the step of adding a loose mineral to everyone's feed. Some of the complete feeds have to be fed in pretty high quantities to get adequate mineral coverage so I think on the generic complete feed program some of them are likely not getting all the minerals they should.
Alternatively, I could get one or two formulas of a high-end complete feed that seems more nutritionally balanced and feed it as a complete ration, adjusting quantities/type according to personalities/workload.
What have you had success with for best results, ease of management and cost effectiveness when feeding a barn of mixed needs horses?
I have access to Masterfeeds, Cavalor (I don't see how this could be cost effective) and the Step Right feeds. I can also get Purina and a few other american feeds but the feed store told me they take over 8 weeks to get and I worry about freshness.
Maybe I'm overcomplicating things.....mine have always done fine on the oats/cf/+ bp.