Feeding hay stretchers/ hay pellets - continue to feed or not necessary?
COTH has been a great resource for me in my transition to keeping my horse at a co-op barn, so I am prevailing on everyone's expertise yet again with another question . Horse in question is an 8 yr old WB/TB cross, works about 5 days/ week. I show in equitation and hunters and horse can tend toward the sensitive side (although I wouldn't say hot).
Recently I noticed that blue seal haystretcher doesn't actually have hay/ grass in it, so I decided to start switching over to the standlee alfalfa/ timothy hay pellets. I was chatting with someone at the barn about my observation, and she asked why I feed a hay pellet/ stretcher at all. I realized I wasn't really sure, just did it because she had gotten it before at boarding barns. On the one hand I feel like her current diet seems to be working, so if it ain't broke why fix it? But on the other hand I wonder if I should just increase the TC Senior equivalent to the calories of the hay stretcher/ pellets and drop the hay pellet/ stretcher all together? Opinions please? Are there benefits to the hay pellets/ stretchers?
At this point, my horse gets close to free choice hay (1st cut timothy/ grass mix) and she gets about 4 lbs/ day of triple crown senior and 4 qts/ day blue seal hay stretcher, with the concentrates split between 2 feedings. She also gets some vitamins per vet recommendation- ETA just a vit E and selenium as our area is known to be deficient, no other vits. Hay consumption is about 25-30 lbs/ day, minimal waste.
Historically at boarding barns she was hard to keep weight on and is in the best weight/ condition now that she has been since I got her, IMO. Since moving her I now feed her in slow nibble hay nets which has increased her hay intake as she hated/ wasted "dirty" hay. I have also transitioned her meals from a BS pelleted feed + beet pulp + hay stretcher+ cool calories, to TC Senior + hay stretcher (no cool calories either). My horse is now eating less concentrates and supplements per meal than ever before and is doing fine without beet pulp (likely due to better hay consumption). Just as an aside, I moved to my current barn in August, so these changes occurred slowly with plenty of time to adapt.
Last edited by M. Owen; Dec. 10, 2012 at 01:36 PM.
I would up the TC Senior and drop the hay stretcher and see what happens. 4 pounds is really not enough -- she should be eating 5-6 pounds/day at a minimum to get her vitamins. My TB gets 8 pounds/day and no stretcher. You can probably ditch the vitamin supplement if you are feeding an appropriate amount of TC Senior to cover nutritional needs unless you have a targeted vitamin she needs extra of (Selenium, mag, etc.)
The reason she was probably getting it before is that hay stretcher is cheaper than more grain. Since you are on self-care you can feed higher quality -- embrace it! I don't do vitamins unless a horse is not getting the recommended minimum of balanced product so overall the extra cost is a wash. Good luck.
Definitely look at the Selenium intake if you up her TC Senior to make sure that you're not OVER supplementing the Selenium with your additional supplement. The 5 to 6 lbs of TC Senior should provide enough, and I wouldn't supplement without having the horse blood drawn to indicate a need for more Se supplementation.
"If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."
Thanks to both of you, initiating some questions to Triple Crown to find out their advice on feeding enough lbs of the feed to get the Vit E and Se needed. Duh on my part not checking that! I just kept going with the Vit E and Se based on the vet's recommendation on the feed from the old barn. I didn't think to re-check after switching feeds. Doh!