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Advice on whether to approach BO/BM about horses feed?

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    Advice on whether to approach BO/BM about horses feed?

    Not sure if I'm posting in the right spot, please let me know if not.

    I'm looking for some advice concerning my horses feed plan at a boarding facility.

    I've been at the same barn for a few years and it is for the most part great, no real complaints... until recently. I noticed that the barn has switched from a high quality feed (tribute, feeds and ration balancer) to the feed stores own brand grain. I don't think it's a coincidence the previous winter my horse had no troubles, even with the long hours without hay at night, but recently he has developed ulcer symptoms (he's being treated now). I'm feeling like maybe the grain switch could be a factor? He was switched slowly to fully getting the cheap feed and it's around the time shortly after the switching that he started acting up. Some of the horses at the barn are still getting the expensive feed and I wasn't consulted that my horse's feed was changing (just noticed the labels/feed chart changes), so I'm not really sure what the decision was on who's horse is switching and why (or why this grain was chosen to replace) but I'd like to have my horse back on the tribute feeds if its still being provided by the barn. The new grains ingredients are a much lower quality. Part of my choice for this facility was that it fed good quality feed, it even advertised the brand of their provided feed.

    Am I being ridiculous and jumping to conclusions? I don't want to cause any trouble, and I know I'm not a money maker client because at the moment I'm only boarding and not paying for lessons so I try to be as low maintenance as I can to make up for it, but I'm a little sour that I wasn't told before this change was happening. I get saving money where they can but its a substantial difference in quality. The board is mid-range for the area. I know the simple answer is to talk to the BM/BO but I'm very introverted and wanted to make sure I wasn't being ridiculous or asking for too much before I bothered them.

    Thanks for any help and advice!

    #2
    No you aren't being ridiculous. I would be upset if my horse's feed was changed without my consent. I am super non confrontational as well but I probably would have said something as soon as I saw the change on the board.

    I'd approach this pretty matter of fact-ly with whoever is in charge of this. My horse has ulcers, he's now being treated for them and I'd like him transitioned back to the Tribute feeds starting with the next feeding.

    Comment


      #3
      As a first step, I would get the full nutritional and ingredients information on both the old and new feed. In particular look at protein, NSC, level of vitamin mineral fortification and also recommended amount of feeding.

      If you are hsving trouble understanding these post the labels here for us to read.

      This will give you some foundation for saying whether the new feed is worse, better, or equivalent to the old feed.

      Also worth looking at what kind of hay is being fed and if that has changed over the winter.

      Just going in saying my horse needs a brand name feed makes you look silly. Going in with concerns over protein or nsc is a much stronger position.

      Comment

        Original Poster

        #4
        Sorry, I might have worded that badly. I don't want the feed because of its name, I had compared labels before I completely jumped to conclusions about it just because it didn't have a name. I attached the picture of the label (hopefully). I couldn't find the information about the feed at all online. The tribute feeds were the essential K ration balancer and kalm ultra. Which I think I linked to the information if I didn't mess it up haha

        The hay has been the same, no changes there. Really the only feed change is the grain. Supplements all stayed the same. He even was doing less work than last winter (not much at all for the time around when it happened even), so I can't say he had an stress increase.

        https://tributeequinenutrition.com/s...2520T91212.pdf
        https://tributeequinenutrition.com/s...520928EK_0.pdf

        Thanks so much for your help everyone!

        Comment

          Original Poster

          #5
          I should add, he was getting 2 cups essential k, 3 cups kalm ultra. Now he gets 5 cups of the store brand grain. So its the same amount, but a vastly different nutrition and ingredient profile.

          Comment


            #6
            I found the picture of current feed's label to be too small to read.

            But, regardless, there's no harm in talking to the Barn manager about the feed change. You can ask why it happened, and why some horses were switched and others not. They should have an answer for you on that, and it's a completely reasonable question. You're paying for a service and the service has changed: you're entitled to ask why.

            It may be that the change was to cut costs, and it may be that those who've stayed on the Tribute feeds have paid a premium to do so. Or maybe something else is going on. But you won't know till you ask!
            "The formula 'Two and two make five' is not without its attractions." --Dostoevsky

            Comment


              #7
              The photo is not legible, please provide a larger photo.

              Is it reasonable to be annoyed/upset about a change in grain you were not made aware of or asked for approval on? Yes. Is it weird for the barn to switch some horses and not others? Yes. As someone else said, perhaps they are paying additional to stay on Tribute, but why weren't you given that option? Are you jumping to conclusions about the new grain causing ulcers? Yes.

              I will say it is silly, IMO, for a horse to get Essential K and grain. The main point of Essential K, as with any ration balancer, is to provide essential nutrients to horses who do not need grain to maintain weight. They are typically used to balance a hay/grass diet.
              Sugar, corn, and molasses aggravate ulcers. Kalm Ultra is certainly not low NSC, but it does not contain corn. It does contain molasses, as does Essential K. If the new grain contains corn and molasses, perhaps it did tip your horse over the edge and made some ulcers flare up. But perceived quality based on priced is a poor reason to assume a new grain caused ulcers. You mentioned long hours without hay in the winters. Perhaps it was fine for him last year, but this year his gut didn't appreciate it.

              Comment


                #8
                I had the same issue back a year ago. First off remember that you are paying board just like everyone else. Just because others pay more for lessons doesn't mean anything as far as boarding goes. As for the feed I'd start out by asking why you weren't told of the changing and why your horse was changed and others weren't. If they are still feeding other horses the old feed I'd just ask to change your horse back to it citing the problems your horse has had as a reason.
                When it happened at my barn they changed all the feed. It got to the point that the barn manger and I sat down to talk. In the end my board was reduced, by what was factored out for grain, and I provided my own feed.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Can't see your pic well enough to compare.

                  But learn from my Hissyfit Fail of several years ago when I had horses boarded.
                  Came in one night to see my TB's hay ration had been cut from 2 to 1 flake .
                  Stomped off angrily to find the feed cart & deliver his 2nd flake.......
                  Only to find the bales being fed from had Ginormous flakes - 1 easily = 2 of the last bales fed.
                  My point is be certain the feeds are different enough nutritionally before making an issue of it.
                  *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
                  Steppin' Out 1988-2004
                  Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
                  Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by mmeqcenter View Post

                    I will say it is silly, IMO, for a horse to get Essential K and grain. The main point of Essential K, as with any ration balancer, is to provide essential nutrients to horses who do not need grain to maintain weight. They are typically used to balance a hay/grass diet.
                    Tribute's EK is actually designed to be fed either as a traditional ration balancer or as a top-dress for an existing feed. I feed my horse the same combination as the OP. The added protein and amino acids from the EK helps my older show horse maintain muscle while in work. How it's fed really just depends on the horse's needs.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      It's a perfectly reasonable conversation to have. Obviously, I think it is a good idea to have read the labels (sounds like you have), but ultimately this discussion isn't about the finer points of nutrition. It's about your preference to have your horse on a particular feed.

                      Here's the deal--horse feed prices have gone up quite a bit in recent years. For large farms, feeding a brand name feed can cost a lot more than feeding a mix that is custom prepared by a local mill. In many cases, the mix prepared by the local mill is NOT inferior--the local mill simply simply has less overhead. They don't have advertising costs or fancy bags, and the feed only gets shipped once (instead of being produced at a distant mill and getting shipped again to the feed store, and then again to you). For many farms, switching to a locally milled feed isn't about "saving money" as it is about finding a way to prevent board rate increases.

                      The best way to approach this is to simply tell the BO that you feel that your horse did better on the other feed and that you are willing to pay the difference to have him put back on the other feeds.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        OP, can you post a legible picture of the store brand feed, and can you tell us what *you* think the significant differences are between the old and new feeds, including ingredients, protein, NSC, fortification, and recommended amount to feed?

                        Comment


                          #13
                          I think your number one issue is that this horse is without hay for long periods of time. That is a HUGE deal.

                          That alone would be a deal breaker for me in a boarding barn. Most horses need free choice forrage 24/7, unless they have a metabolic issue.

                          Bad quality grain does present a host of other concerns. However, with such poor barn management, I'm not sure it is worth the conversation. I'd move the horse if it we're me.

                          Show me your horse and I will tell you who you are.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Did anyone catch that her horse was only getting 3 cups of the Tribute feed? I would bet that's the reason -- it's much less than the recommended amount, so if the barn is watching costs or just hoping they can shift some horses that don't have high needs to a more "standard" product, someone probably decided that the "average" horses get the standard product, and the high need horses stay on the Tribute.

                            The other detail I picked out: if he was getting a ration balancer plus a small amount of high octane feed, and now he's getting 5 cups of standard feed without any additional vit/min supplement (I'm assuming the standard product is a generic pellet or sweet feed, since I can't see the label), that is also an issue to discuss with management. Have they ordered some other product to replace the ration balancer or a new vit/min supplement for the horses on the standard product?

                            I've been on both sides of this discussion, and have been part of some really good problem solving discussions that start wtih "our feed bills are through the roof. I don't think every horse in the barn needs half a bucket of Purina Senior twice a day." It's like a puzzle, or maybe an algebra problem, with a couple different ways to get to the right answer.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by betsyk View Post
                              Did anyone catch that her horse was only getting 3 cups of the Tribute feed? I would bet that's the reason -- it's much less than the recommended amount, so if the barn is watching costs or just hoping they can shift some horses that don't have high needs to a more "standard" product, someone probably decided that the "average" horses get the standard product, and the high need horses stay on the Tribute.

                              The other detail I picked out: if he was getting a ration balancer plus a small amount of high octane feed, and now he's getting 5 cups of standard feed without any additional vit/min supplement (I'm assuming the standard product is a generic pellet or sweet feed, since I can't see the label), that is also an issue to discuss with management. Have they ordered some other product to replace the ration balancer or a new vit/min supplement for the horses on the standard product?

                              I've been on both sides of this discussion, and have been part of some really good problem solving discussions that start wtih "our feed bills are through the roof. I don't think every horse in the barn needs half a bucket of Purina Senior twice a day." It's like a puzzle, or maybe an algebra problem, with a couple different ways to get to the right answer.
                              Which is why I wanted OP to look at the new feed label and see if it is fortified or not.

                              Comment


                                #16
                                I feed both the Tribute Kalm Ultra and the Essential K. The feeding rate for the Ultra is minimum 4lbs per day, and the EK is meant to be fed at least 1lb per day. The Ultra is about a lb per quart. I feed 2 quarts AM/PM, and split a quart (1lb) of the EK between two feedings. I can't speak for the specs of the new feed, but unless the 3 cups of Ultra and 2 cups of EK are *per feeding* instead of *per day*, that's just not enough to be reaping the benefits of the feed.

                                I ran into the same problem with my horse... I cringed at the idea of feeding what I had been told was "so much grain", but what was really just the proper amount to get the nutritional benefits of the grain. Whatever grain you choose, make sure you're feeding it to the minimum on the bag.

                                Comment


                                  #17
                                  If he was getting that much when in work, he should be getting less grain when out of work. It is the hay he needs and yes 24/7 not hours and hours and hours and hours without.
                                  It is better to ride 5 minutes a day than it is to ride 35 minutes on a Sunday.

                                  Comment


                                    #18
                                    I feel like this is also one of those barn culture questions. Is it more of a barn where your horse is in a program and the BO/BM make changes based on what they observe in your horse, or is it really the owner that makes all the calls? In the former, I would be slightly less peeved but would still definitely ask! Not in an accusatory tone, but more of just a question with no judgment.

                                    I was at a barn that said they fed certain brands but I found out they only fed a bit of the "good" brand and then a bit of another mysterious random brand... I know that the brand itself doesn't matter (we have some nice locally milled feed here) but if you assume your horse is eating one thing and it turns out it's eating another, that's kind of annoying!

                                    Comment


                                      #19
                                      Originally posted by Scribbler View Post
                                      As a first step, I would get the full nutritional and ingredients information on both the old and new feed. In particular look at protein, NSC, level of vitamin mineral fortification and also recommended amount of feeding.

                                      This will give you some foundation for saying whether the new feed is worse, better, or equivalent to the old feed.

                                      Just going in saying my horse needs a brand name feed makes you look silly. Going in with concerns over protein or nsc is a much stronger position.
                                      Agree with Scribbler's comments above. BTW, the photo of the store brand feed is too small/blurry to read.

                                      Of more concern to me would be the horse's "long hours without hay at night." That is highly likely to be contributing to his ulcer symptoms much more so than a change in grain.

                                      It might be useful to read up on what causes equine ulcers and how to prevent them. Some simple searches on google will produce many helpful articles. Here is an interesting article to get you started:

                                      https://drkerryridgway.com/2016/07/0...eal-with-them/

                                      After you do some research on ulcers; what causes them, how to heal them and how to prevent them from recurring; have a conversation with your vet about how best to manage your horse. Many times the best way to avoid future ulcer flair-ups entails a diet overhaul such as; 24/7 forage with added alfalfa, little to no grain, avoiding added sugars like molasses, etc.

                                      Comment


                                        #20
                                        The best thing for my mare during and following ulcer treatment (and is ongoing) is good quality forage available 24/7. I feed a mix of alfalfa and grass hay in her stall and she gets overnight grazing on good pasture. If grass isn't available, he needs hay in front of him at all times. As a side note, I feed the Kalm Ultra, my picky eater loves it and they all look great on it!

                                        Comment

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