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Designing a non-commercial feed plan?

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  • Designing a non-commercial feed plan?

    Hi all,

    I have been considering whether my horses might benefit from a change to their feeding plan. I've researched this in the forums and online but still feel very in over my head. I think I'm going to bite the bullet and get a subscription to feedXl, but if anyone enjoys this type of thing, and would like to nerd out on designing a feeding plan with me, I would LOVE the input

    So, mine are doing well at the moment on the commercial feed. So on one hand, maybe I should leave it alone. But on the other, I'm still skeptical about all of the ingredients in each mix, and thoughts of "cleaning up" their diet stubbornly persist...

    I have big horses (16hh is smallest - 17.3hh largest) in good condition and in medium - heavy work. Thankfully no health problems and no issues with laminitis, etc. All warmbloods, all a little on the hot side, and all showjumpers ranging in level from baby classes to 1.35m. They need to have energy but perhaps some of them could do with a tiny bit less of the explosive sort. They are on a competition mix (https://redmills.ie/products/horse/r...tion-12-cubes/), which is essentially for that fast-release energy, as well as a sweet feed type of mix (https://redmills.ie/products/horse/r...-n-cooked-mix/) with a bit less protein. I feed concentrate at the lowest recommended amount and they all get a good scoop of beet pulp and a handful of alfalfa chaff each meal. They are also fed ad-lib, or just about, a meadow grass haylage, which is quite rich, and get anywhere from a bit of hang-grazing to several hours turnout a day (depending on whether/ how often they try to murder themselves).

    I'm looking at moving away from the commercial feed and over to a vitamin/mineral supplement/balancer (https://progressive-earth.com/produc...of-supplement/, beet pulp, micronized linseed, alfalfa or grass chaff, and possibly a bit of oats. From what I've read, this seems to be fairly in line (or all the rage, maybe ) with what many people are feeding. I love the idea of more of a forage and fiber-based approach, so it appeals to me in that sense. Has anyone here had success with making the switch to this type of feeding regimen? Particularly anyone with performance horses in demanding work? Am I way off? Thanks for any comments, I'm a feed plan newbie...

  • #2
    IMO, how well your horses are doing should inform your decision. I have fed both commercial and "whole food" diets. My mare is currently on a commercial feed (Seminole).

    One thing that strikes me about the mix you are feeding is how low in fat it is. Fat is considered good for "cool energy" aka not making horses crazy-hot, but giving them the energy they need.

    If you look at the feed I use (and is used extensively by eventers at my barn), you'll see quite a different nutritional profile that the feeds you are using:
    file:///Users/ld2/Downloads/Seminole...heet%20(3).pdf

    Not saying that is the change you need, but just that diets are lot more about overall composition and horse needs than commercial/non-commercial.

    Comment


    • #3
      That's quite a high sugar diet they are on right now, so I agree that moving off that is a good idea

      The product you're looking to change to is a hoof supplement - magnesium, copper, zinc, biotin, B6, that's it. So while there's nothing inherently wrong with it, it's not what you're looking for as a complete v/m supplement.

      This is their "balancer", which is a pretty decent v/m supplement
      https://progressive-earth.com/produc...low-in-forage/


      Is there a reason you want to DIY, instead of finding a better regular feed? You can absolutely make your own, but you can't/shouldn't just start with piecing together the "in" things. The ingredients you list are totally fine - you're creating a mix of forages and some fat as the calorie base. Adding the above Pro Balance + is a nice addition. Is it complete and/or balanced for your horses? Without a forage analysis there's no way to know. But it likely gets you at least most of the way.

      Since you're only feeding the low end range of the current feeds, whether this will work for you depends on how well your forage mix meets their calorie requirements.
      ______________________________
      The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #4
        Thanks so much for your reply. And you definitely have a point: My horses are doing well, so it's probably not a change I need to make. That's actually why I came on here. I'm just very on the fence about it.

        That's interesting about the difference in fat content in our feeds. I have been wanting to add a fat source to whatever plan I make for them, which is what I'm hoping the linseed will do, but I would not have known that my current feed was on the low fat end of things. When I brought my horses home, I was advised by my coach based on how he feeds his, so silly enough, I didn't examine the composition . I wonder if like for like, feed concentrates in Ireland differ much from those in America and if this is one of the ways they do.

        I definitely don't want to do this out of any sort of "bandwagon" non-commercial/whole foods only sentiment, but just honestly wonder about the need for soy bean hulls, soy oil, molasses, etc, in the equine diet.

        Comment


        • #5
          Horses don't NEED a high/higher fat diet. That notion is getting a lot of attention now. Some horses need it. Some do better on it. Many don't need it and don't change their weight or behavior on or off a high/er fat diet. If your horses are performing well and maintaining good weight on the lower fat diet now, they don't *need* more fat. But it's not going to hurt to increase it a bit either. Might not do any good, won't do any harm.

          It's less of a bandwagon than it is an alternative way to feed. It's more work mixing your own, especially if your base in a mix of more than 2 things. I personally hate having to scoop out of multiple bins, though unfortunately right now I'm scooping out of 3 bins to feed 4 horses - all 4 get 1 bin, 3 get the 2nd bin, and the 4th gets the 3rd.

          Soy (meal, hulls) are a cheap way to get protein without a lot of volume. Soy meal is almost 50% protein, and alfalfa pellets are in the range of 16%.

          Molasses is used as a binding agent for pellets (as is vegetable oil), or as a final coating for dust control in the higher quality feeds. Some add a lot more for taste.
          ______________________________
          The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

          Comment

          • Original Poster

            #6
            Thank you, JB. You always have such lovely, thoughtful replies. I am aware I've assembled quite a list of "in" ingredients, which is probably half why I came on here to question it I didn't spot that the supplement did not have the same profile as the balancer. I mistakenly thought it was the the pimped out version of the pro-balance + Yikes. Thank you for that especially... a good reminder never to assume anything.

            I've been thinking about designing my own plan mostly because I've seen/heard about a lot of what would appear to be high quality/"pure" feeds in America and England that aren't available here in Ireland. We have essentially a few different brands here and I feel stuck with that selection (without necessarily having the knowledge to back that feeling up). I could get some of it from England but shipping bags/ pallets of it would be insanely pricey and not something I can sustain with nine mouths to feed.

            I won't be making any changes until I'm certain I've got it right- or at least have a safe point to start at and tweak as I go. As with everything else (I'm also currently at the beginning of an epic journey to manage/ care for/ sustain our fields and had no idea how much science was involved), I am reminded how little I know.

            Comment


            • #7
              From my very little experience in this but am very fascinated by grain free horse diets. I have a draft cross that will not tolerate any amount of alfalfa hay or pellets. So I had my vet do a nutrition analysis and then actually had a conversation with a specialist in the area. But I also was dealing with some behavioral/ulcer and nasty bowel movements so I had a reason to mess with his diet.

              We ended up doing 24/7 turnout he has a run with coastal and we switched him to a balancer from Hallway. Not sure what's available in your area but since my horse has been on this feed his manure is complete apples and he doesn't seem too worried about anything because he was super high energy for his breeding and it was very strange. I know the turnout situation changes a lot too but that's my two cents and I look forward to reading more about this subject.
              when the world turns on you your horse will be there.
              -ariah

              Comment


              • #8
                I think your current recipe is a good place to start. I'd go light on the beet pulp since its high volume will just take longer to eat, which will reduce how much hay they eat. The higher the calorie:volume ratio a feedstuff is, the more quickly larger amounts of calories can be eaten, and of course, lower = longer. So you can use that to your advantage if you've got a slow eater, or one who needs to feel like he's getting a real meal but doesn't need real calories LOL

                And then just keep assessing body condition and energy level as the months go on. Check hoof quality too.
                ______________________________
                The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

                Comment


                • #9
                  JB has given good thorough advice.

                  I also recommend Julie Gettys Feed Your Horse Like a Horse which is inline with current best practices. And an online nutrition course wouldn't hurt. It's hard to understand this stuff if you don't have a basic understanding of food and gut.

                  I feed "noncommercial" because we don't have access to many commercial feeds, and they are expensive.

                  I feel that excellent hay and a good complete vitamin mineral supplement fed at full dose is the core element of such a plan.

                  The supplement needs to be fed in a small mash which can be beet pulp and/or alfalfa cubes.

                  For overall protein, you are best off feeding a minimum 5 lbs of alfalfa hay as part of your forage. You can't get that volume of alfalfa in cubes or pellets. And it's good to make it part of chew time.

                  I also like to add a cup of whole flax to the mash. If you buy whole it doesn't go rancid, and you can grind dsily if you have the energy and time, but I find whole is working fine.

                  Then you can play with mash ingredients. My mare does better for energy on a pound of oats in her mash (three cups). She appreciates a handful of alfalfa cubes for flavor.

                  As far as overall weight, I would feed the amount of hay the horse will eat that keeps him in weight. If you have a WB or TB, that might be all the hay he can eat. If you have a Paint or an Iberian, you might be weighing their daily ration of 15 lbs with a fish scale after the vet reads you the riot act on weight gain but that's unlikely to be your problem OP!

                  If your horses are unable or unwilling to eat enough hay to keep weight on, I would check for ulcers but also consider adding a fat source in addition to flax to the diet. I haven't personally dealt with that issue though.

                  If you center your mash on a vitamin mineral supplement plus flax, you can increase or decrease the beet pulp, alfalfa cubes, oats, as needed for energy management or workload without worrying about oversll nutrition.

                  Good hay is important. For instance our local grass hay is sky high in NSC and low in protein and minerals. My horse has done better since I switched to commercially grown Timothy imported from the dry belt.

                  The basic ingredients of these small mashes are super cheap compared to locally available bagged feeds. But the cost of the vitamin mineral supplement basically hikes my monthly costs back up equivalent to a bagged feed.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Scribbler View Post
                    For overall protein, you are best off feeding a minimum 5 lbs of alfalfa hay as part of your forage. You can't get that volume of alfalfa in cubes or pellets. And it's good to make it part of chew time.
                    But with free choice "quite rich" meadow grass haylage, it's probably not necessary to be concerned about more chew time. I'm not sure what the other part of your comment means 5lb of alfalfa pellets is more or less equivalent to 5lb alfalfa hay, unless you've got a really crappy pellet provider who uses the bottom of the barrel alfalfa to make it. Most commercial companies use quality alfalfa, just not dairy quality (which we don't want for horses anyway). So I guess it comes down to the quality of alf pellets in Ireland. If it's crap, then even decent hay will be better. If it's about the same, then the pellets just become part of the concentrate portion of the diet.

                    I also like to add a cup of whole flax to the mash. If you buy whole it doesn't go rancid, and you can grind dsily if you have the energy and time, but I find whole is working fine.
                    Flax = linseed

                    ______________________________
                    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Ok I wasn't reading for comprehension clearly

                      My point about the hay cubes was just that 5 lbs dry weight of cubes soaked is a giant mash. Missed the whole point of being in Ireland where the forage availability is different from NA.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I was told by my vet that my horse doesn't need grain. Just a basic supplement, which at first was platinum performance and a hoof supplement. I've since switched the supplement to Equine Nutrimix Plus, but it's a white powder and gross. So I give half a scoop of alfalfa/timothy pellets and half a scoop of beet pulp and I mix it up wet. I also add Equine Omega Complete into it. He gets free choice hay and pasture. He does well on it!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I am currently feeding a no grain diet. I feed California Trace Plus vitamin/mineral supplement, a small amount of Coolstance (copra) as a carrier, about a pound a day of alfalfa pellets, salt, and flaxseed. I have used beet pulp instead of the Coolstance, but find the Coolstance to be less work, especially in the summer. I have also used Timothy pellets in place of the alfalfa pellets.

                          My horses are on a combination of pasture and Timothy hay. In the winter I add a bit of Alfalfa hay as well.

                          I will say I have also had great results with Seminole feeds as well.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by brightlights View Post
                            I've researched this in the forums and online but still feel very in over my head. I think I'm going to bite the bullet and get a subscription to feedXl,

                            I'm looking at moving away from the commercial feed and over to a vitamin/mineral supplement/balancer (https://progressive-earth.com/produc...of-supplement/, beet pulp, micronized linseed, alfalfa or grass chaff, and possibly a bit of oats. From what I've read, this seems to be fairly in line (or all the rage, maybe )
                            FeedXL will not help you unless you weigh what each horse is eating every day - forage included. It's a waste of money for most people, especially those who have pasture.

                            Don't get hung up on works like "clean" and "pure." They are simple buzz words to generate emotional feelings about food. You are either meeting your nutritional needs or not. Horses eat off the ground. People lock them up in 12x12 stalls for hours on end where they are forced to stand in their own urine and manure, and sometimes sleep in it. Not sure why they demand "clean" and "pure" for the few pounds of concentrate the horses eat daily.

                            If your horses are getting an ad-lib haylage they you are already feeding a forage and fiber based diet. Do you know how many pounds a day they eat? Do you test the haylage?

                            A quality commercial feed will save you a lot of headache. No one on this board has any formal education regarding equine nutrition. You are getting advice from people who have simply read up on things on their own. What brands of feed do you have access to in Ireland? The top quality brands have been formulated by equine nutrition professionals and have a lot of research behind them. There is a lot that goes into a quality, balanced diet.
                            "When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in a confederacy against him."

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Palm Beach View Post

                              FeedXL will not help you unless you weigh what each horse is eating every day - forage included. It's a waste of money for most people, especially those who have pasture.
                              I wouldn't say you need to weigh what each horse was eating everyday... but FeedXL can get you pointed in the right direction.. once I weighed everything then I knew a can of this weighs this much, a scoop of that weighs that much, then it was easy peasy...

                              A month of FeedXL can definitely save you from ripping your hair out trying to balance everything. It actually ended up saving me money because then I could see where I was overdoing it and where I was underdoing it.
                              Boyle Heights Kid 1998 16.1h OTTB Dark Bay Gelding
                              Quiet Miracle 2010 16.1h OTTB Bay Gelding
                              "Once you go off track, you never go back!"

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by BoyleHeightsKid View Post

                                I wouldn't say you need to weigh what each horse was eating everyday... but FeedXL can get you pointed in the right direction.. once I weighed everything then I knew a can of this weighs this much, a scoop of that weighs that much, then it was easy peasy...

                                A month of FeedXL can definitely save you from ripping your hair out trying to balance everything. It actually ended up saving me money because then I could see where I was overdoing it and where I was underdoing it.
                                The problem with FeedXL is the forage portion, especially for those who feed a forage based diet. Unless you are feeding only hay as a forage, and you are weighing what the horse eats every day, and you have a good test done on your hay, it's a crap shoot. You can't possibly know what a horse on pasture eats every day. There are hundreds of species of plants in a pasture, and the composition of the pasture changes according to the season and the weather, and horses pick and choose what they eat. So you are guessing at the bulk of the diet, and paying for a service that is filling in the blanks based on a massive guess.

                                The art of horsemanship is much more valuable.
                                "When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in a confederacy against him."

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Palm Beach View Post
                                  A quality commercial feed will save you a lot of headache.
                                  But not guaranteed to balance the diet any more than a reasonable 'homemade" diet is.

                                  No one on this board has any formal education regarding equine nutrition.
                                  Really? NO one? Not a single soul?

                                  You are getting advice from people who have simply read up on things on their own.
                                  And many of us have studied what the experts - those who DO have a formal education regarding equine nutrition - have to say about all this. Many of us use resources like the National Resource Council's Nutrient Requirements for Horses. That's pretty expert level, pretty formal in the education department.

                                  The type of diet she's laid out is just as reasonable as choosing a commercial feed.
                                  ______________________________
                                  The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Palm Beach View Post

                                    The problem with FeedXL is the forage portion, especially for those who feed a forage based diet. Unless you are feeding only hay as a forage, and you are weighing what the horse eats every day, and you have a good test done on your hay, it's a crap shoot. You can't possibly know what a horse on pasture eats every day. There are hundreds of species of plants in a pasture, and the composition of the pasture changes according to the season and the weather, and horses pick and choose what they eat. So you are guessing at the bulk of the diet, and paying for a service that is filling in the blanks based on a massive guess.

                                    The art of horsemanship is much more valuable.
                                    Well then what would YOU suggest someone do? If FeedXL is a waste of money, then so is any nutritionist. And if you don't have a forage analysis, then how, as you claim, does a random choice of a fortified commercial feed meet the needs any better than a diet like the OP is considering, and any other similar diet? Choosing a commercial feed is just as massive a guess as using some forage concentrates and a v/m supplement.
                                    ______________________________
                                    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by JB View Post
                                      But not guaranteed to balance the diet any more than a reasonable 'homemade" diet is.


                                      Really? NO one? Not a single soul?


                                      And many of us have studied what the experts - those who DO have a formal education regarding equine nutrition - have to say about all this. Many of us use resources like the National Resource Council's Nutrient Requirements for Horses. That's pretty expert level, pretty formal in the education department.

                                      The type of diet she's laid out is just as reasonable as choosing a commercial feed.
                                      Sorry, didn't realize you finally earned credentials. My bad. Congratulations!
                                      "When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in a confederacy against him."

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        It's so nice to see you still don't truly read what I say. Nowhere did I say I have formal credentials. Never claimed to, never implied I did. I can't help what you infer.

                                        But really - you asked every single person on COTH if they had any formal education in equine nutrition?

                                        Did you ask Melyni Worth? Ghazzu? RAyers? Sarah Ralston?
                                        ______________________________
                                        The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

                                        Comment

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