This year I've bought excellent quality 50/50 timothy/alfafa hay, by far the best looking, smelling hay I've found since a long while, and analysis came back with a nice 14% proteins (compared to 10 to 11% usually found in my area). Usually, I can't have alfafa in my area, but it seems that I've found THE right place. I was used to feed Thimothy hay, wich Ca:P ratio is near 2:1. Now with this new ha, my ratio would be at 4.2:1, because of alfafa being much more rich in Ca than in Phosphorus.
I didnt found yet a ration balancer in my area that has an inversed Ca:P ratio to re-balance my total ration somewhere that magical 1.5 to 2 for 1.
How do breeders who feed alfafa hay or mix of alfafa hay manage to keep the ratio balanced for weanlings and yearlings??
Grinn...Buckeye is not available in my area... And even if it would be, their ration balancer for alfafa guarantee a Ca of 1% to 1.5% and Phosphorus of 1.5%... soo in the worst case, I'm still with an 1:1 ratio that wont change the one from hay. In the best scenario (1: 1.5), if my total diet is 80% hay and 20% ratio balancer, I'm still with a ratio of 3.24:1 Ca:P.....
oats have an inversed ratio around 1:7, but as it (well, from what I've read) has a large amount of starch, I dont think it's a great idea to feed a lot neither to young growing foals...
Progressive Nutrition also has a ration balancer designed for use with legume hay. In addition, they will look at your hay analysis and prescribe what is needed to produce a balanced diet. E.g., one of my pastures once had an inverse Ca:P ratio and I was directed to supplement the horses on it with feeding lime until I could bring it back into balance. There are high P supplements on the market to correct in the other direction, but personally, I would not want to fiddle with them without the assistance of a qualified nutritionist.
For very, very little extra they will do a custom mix too. You CAN get them to make up a (custom) ration balancer, but it is a granular form, and my horses did not find the mare/foal, "Milk & Grow" product to be palatable at all. I imagine others love it.
I have had very good success in emailing their equine nutritionists too. If the do not know, they admit it, and find someone who does.
Progressive Nutrition is not available in Canada actually, and after a call to the company, they dont seem to be interested to expand their market on this side of the boarder, unfortunately...
Thanks pintopiaffe and formosus, I will visit links you are suggesting to see if they can have something for me.
Friesanx, my (2) local feed stores (in 200km circle) carries only 3 (total) rationbalancer, wich 2 of them are 2:1 Ca:P and the third one (that I actually use) is 1:1. None have ration balancer nor feed that has inversed ratio. Seems that no one else around me feeds alfafa to growing horses???!!!
Formosus, is rice brand = son de riz in french? If I go to the local feed store asking for this, they will look at me as a martian just as when I asked for micronized soybeans (finally I got the men overthere to believe me that IT exists and he finally got to order me some monthly since then..lol)
Yes rice bran is son de riz, not to rain on you parade but most come fortified with get this......Calcium!!.
However with your current ratio of 4.2:1 I personally would really not be freeking out if I where you. Sure it would be nice to have the perfect ballance but between understanding how much the horses are actually absorbing (type and source of the ca and the p) and the variation between the various bales of hay in my opinion you are in the safe zone. The ratio is important of course I'm not denying that but countless young horses are brought up on alfalfa and seem to do fine. If you are concerned get some grass hay and reduce the ammount of pure alfalfa you are feeding.
Oh gosh, I pushed a button and lost my entire response. Here we go again. Sorry if it mysteriously shows up twice.
All the stabilized rice bran in my area is also fortified to balance out the Ca:Phos ratio. Rice bran that is not stabilized is generally not fortified and therefore would be a good option for you provided you:
1) calculate how much is necessary and which won't be too much rice bran to feed
2) will feed enough so that it will not sit around a long time and go rancid
3) have horses that like it and don't mind eating powders. You could probably mix with some water or oil if they don't like powder. I have never had a horse that wouldn't eat it and they are now eating the powder without a problem. It tastes a bit sweet and they really like it. Stabilized rice bran can be purchased as granules or pellets/little nuggets. The unstabilized variety is more powdery but tastes the same as the stabilized stuff.
The other benefit is that the unstabilized rice bran is considerably cheaper. My stabilized rice bran was $29 per 40-50 lb. bag and the unstabilized rice bran is $12.50 for a 50 lb. bag
Unless you have horses that are IR or extremely sensitive I would not be overly concerned about feeding some oats in moderation. They are found in many pelleted feeds, you just can't see them. Given in moderation I wouldn't think you'd have a problem and, of course, the higher Phosphorus would help balance the ratio. About 10 days ago I started feeding two yearlings a bit of oats because they were eating more alfalfa and I was also concerned about the Ca:Phos ratio. I've seen no negative effects on their personalities and the one that needed to gain some weight seems to be doing so which is great. I don't attribute the weight gain to the oats alone but the fact that I was able to give more alfalfa now that I could balance the ratio out with the oats.
You can provide adult horses with a diet that has a higher Ca:Phos ratio but my understanding is that for young, growing horses it is better to keep it closer to 2:1.
Look into just buying a monophosphate salt as a supplement. CSU developed a supplement which is 1:2 for alfalfa hay feeders. (I think it is called SLR but I'd have to go out and check the tag) a bag costs about $45 but you feed 2-3 tablespoons so it lasts forever.
Whew! You guys are so scientific about this. I feed a mix of Alfalfa and clean lighter quality local hay from the local farmers in my area. Babies share with Mom and they always grow up big and healthy and strong. El Naturel seems to agree with them. They get plenty of turnout on well grazed pasture, some get beet pulp, depending who it is and some get grain and a Step One for the lactating mare and foal.
We can never know exactly the right balance of what goes into our horses. I never combine supplements, just use one good one that is suitable for the acitivity level of the horse getting it. My horses are the best darned good lookin' horses in this here valley, if I do say so myself!! :-)) Must be that mountain air mixed with flood plain swamp grass aroma...haha.
I agree with JB. The worry with the ca/ph ratio is that young growing horses will not get enough calcuim. I believe they tolerate up to 7:1 fairly well. I am not a fan of just feeing straight alfalfa, but a 50-50 mix is to me ideal.
If you are terribly woried about it, use wheat bran and oats to balance your ration.
#1 How relaxed or "scientific" we need to be depends a great deal on the quality of the soil where we live. I have seen breeders move from the west coast to this area (mid-Atlantic) become very scientific about their feeding methods after having to give away several crops of well bred foals due to growth problems.
#2 Grass ration balancers are designed to be fed to horses whose forage is up to 50/50% grass/legume. I.e. you don't need to switch to an alfa ration balancer unless your horse's diet is over 50% legume.
#3 JB is quite right about the amino acid factor. Lysine (the "limiting amino acid for growth") is very low in both grass forage and cereal grains, while being high in legumes.