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Moving away from hard grains for OTTB

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  • Moving away from hard grains for OTTB

    Hey everyone, as the title suggests, I have my 5 year old OTTB gelding on a pelleted grain currently (Strategy Healthy Edge), along with supplements.
    Current feed plan:
    6 lbs Healthy Edge
    1-2 lbs Amplify
    SmartMuscle & SmartGain (both maintenance dose SmartPaks)
    Redmond Rock Crushed Salt (along with himalayan salt lick in stall and free choice salt block in field)
    1 lb Standlee Beet Pulp Pellets (pre-soaked weight)

    Forage situation isn't wonderful as pastures have too many horses on them and hay quality isn't always consistent. These are currently not factors I can change as I currently have him boarded to have use of an indoor arena for bad weather and through winter. He is currently at a healthy weight which we have maintained on the current feed plan, but I'm considering moving towards a less processed feed plan.

    I have switched his SmartPak regime to Elevate Maintenance Powder (Vitamin E) and TriAmino. Those should be starting this week when I get them and finish up his last few feed strips of the other supplements. I've been introducing the TC Golden Ground Flax Seeds to his diet in the last week (up to 1/4 cup, will work up to 1/2 cup ~ 2 ounces). I want to up his Beet Pulp and get a better idea of exactly the amount he gets (I measured/weighed it once but have since gotten a bit lax and forgotten, so 1 lb. is approximate), and would like to add in either Alfalfa cubes or Alfalfa/Timothy Hay cubes.

    My questions are, is this a good place to start with changing diet? Obviously I'm not switching him cold-turkey...this would probably be a week or two process at least I'd imagine? Are there other supplements (closer to natural source, not pelleted) that I need? Oats? I've seen/read/heard mixed opinions on oats and am curious what the general consensus is on here. Is it absurd to try to put a young, growing horse on a diet that doesn't include hard grains?

    Thank you!

  • #2
    How are you defining "hard grains"? Any/all commercial feeds?

    I'm curious why you'd be wanting to move away from at least a commercial feed, some of which don't contain any cereal grains (but might contain grain by-products like wheat middlings, or distillers dried grains, but then replace that with a cereal grain.

    What's your real goal? Is he having issues? Are you concerned about the volume of feed now?
    ______________________________
    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

    Comment


    • #3
      Agree with JB. Why do you want to do this? If your horse is doing well now, what are you trying to accomplish? I don't really see the point of removing a tested, commercial feed and putting together a DIY diet. And one that includes oats would certainly not be one without "hard grains."

      Personally I wouldn't consider beet pulp, alfalfa cubes and supplements to be "less processed" than a commercial horse feed. They are all processed.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by aknightstale View Post
        Hey everyone, as the title suggests, I have my 5 year old OTTB gelding on a pelleted grain currently (Strategy Healthy Edge), along with supplements.
        Current feed plan:
        6 lbs Healthy Edge
        1-2 lbs Amplify
        SmartMuscle & SmartGain (both maintenance dose SmartPaks)
        Redmond Rock Crushed Salt (along with himalayan salt lick in stall and free choice salt block in field)
        1 lb Standlee Beet Pulp Pellets (pre-soaked weight)

        Forage situation isn't wonderful as pastures have too many horses on them and hay quality isn't always consistent. These are currently not factors I can change as I currently have him boarded to have use of an indoor arena for bad weather and through winter. He is currently at a healthy weight which we have maintained on the current feed plan, but I'm considering moving towards a less processed feed plan.

        I have switched his SmartPak regime to Elevate Maintenance Powder (Vitamin E) and TriAmino. Those should be starting this week when I get them and finish up his last few feed strips of the other supplements. I've been introducing the TC Golden Ground Flax Seeds to his diet in the last week (up to 1/4 cup, will work up to 1/2 cup ~ 2 ounces). I want to up his Beet Pulp and get a better idea of exactly the amount he gets (I measured/weighed it once but have since gotten a bit lax and forgotten, so 1 lb. is approximate), and would like to add in either Alfalfa cubes or Alfalfa/Timothy Hay cubes.

        My questions are, is this a good place to start with changing diet? Obviously I'm not switching him cold-turkey...this would probably be a week or two process at least I'd imagine? Are there other supplements (closer to natural source, not pelleted) that I need? Oats? I've seen/read/heard mixed opinions on oats and am curious what the general consensus is on here. Is it absurd to try to put a young, growing horse on a diet that doesn't include hard grains?

        Thank you!
        Yes, it is absurd since you don’t have a justifiable reason to do so. My first choice of commercial feed would not be Strategy, but I have lots of choices. I’d be much more focused on getting better forage.
        "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


        • #5
          It is not at all absurd. Why can't the answer be "I want to know exactly what's going into my horse"? Strategy doesn't provide that.

          There's absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to avoid soy, or corn, for example. And it's really not that hard to formulate a good diet for a 4yo without a commercial feed. There are lots of really good v/m supplements out there now, and while it can get $$, especially since the high quality v/ms aren't cheap, it's not hard to meet calorie demands most of the time with hay pellets and some added fat.

          "getting better forage" is a lot easier said than done in many cases, especially when you board, as she is, and already said she can't change that at this time.
          ______________________________
          The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

          Comment

          • Original Poster

            #6
            Originally posted by JB View Post
            It is not at all absurd. Why can't the answer be "I want to know exactly what's going into my horse"? Strategy doesn't provide that.

            There's absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to avoid soy, or corn, for example. And it's really not that hard to formulate a good diet for a 4yo without a commercial feed. There are lots of really good v/m supplements out there now, and while it can get $$, especially since the high quality v/ms aren't cheap, it's not hard to meet calorie demands most of the time with hay pellets and some added fat.

            "getting better forage" is a lot easier said than done in many cases, especially when you board, as she is, and already said she can't change that at this time.
            Thank you! Yes, I would like to know a bit more about what my horse is eating instead of giving him a grain that has fillers/corn/soy/artificial flavoring, etc. And I guess "hard grains" is a poor word choice as that can define a lot of food lol...I'm thinking of a more processed, commercial food that has had vitamins and nutrients added to it (such as what he is currently eating). I realize that everything is "processed", so I'm referring to less processed, closer to nature foods. It's not my intention to say he can't have ANYTHING that's commercial (he's picky about treats so he gets what he likes lol).

            I don't need to take him off commercial feed for any reason, other than me starting to be more interested in knowing what goes into his diet and why.

            I'm completely open to better grain suggestions as well. I know I've heard mixed reviews on Purina products, but as of now, haven't had any bad experiences. At the end of the day, I just want my horses to be happy and healthy, inside and out, so I'm exploring the different possibilities.

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              Originally posted by S1969 View Post
              Agree with JB. Why do you want to do this? If your horse is doing well now, what are you trying to accomplish? I don't really see the point of removing a tested, commercial feed and putting together a DIY diet. And one that includes oats would certainly not be one without "hard grains."

              Personally I wouldn't consider beet pulp, alfalfa cubes and supplements to be "less processed" than a commercial horse feed. They are all processed.
              My mistake using the wrong word. I wish there was a simple word to describe what I'm saying instead of a full sentence lol. Grains that have not been filled with corn/soy/artificial flavors, etc. Beet pulp and alfalfa are processed, yes, but when you buy it, there are no/less additives. So in that sense, it's less processed, for lack of a better word in my vocabulary. I'm also in the process of changing his supplements. I had him on SmartGain and SmartMuscle, but after figuring out the key ingredients and seeing what others had to say, I'm going with more simplified, "only the ingredients needed" forms (less or no fillers).

              Comment


              • #8
                Well, many horses fare fine with decent hay, and either a ration balancer or a vitamin mineral supplement in a small mash of beet pulp or hay cubes.

                Note however that RB or VMS are by definition "added nutrients" and you can't really get away from that whether you feed them concentrated in a VMS or diluted in a bagged feed that requires 5 lbs a day to get the same ratios.

                When you say hay quality is inconsistent, what do you mean by it? What problems do you see in the hay and what problems do you see in the horses that eat it?

                Why are you feeding smart Pak supplements in addition to 5lbs of a bagged fortified feed and then I assume an RB? Not familiar with those brands.

                Ottb do however often need more calories than other horses. Often a higher oil content helps. We have a locally available feed that people like for weight gain, basically alfalfa meal and soy oil. Very palatable.

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Originally posted by Scribbler View Post
                  Well, many horses fare fine with decent hay, and either a ration balancer or a vitamin mineral supplement in a small mash of beet pulp or hay cubes.

                  Note however that RB or VMS are by definition "added nutrients" and you can't really get away from that whether you feed them concentrated in a VMS or diluted in a bagged feed that requires 5 lbs a day to get the same ratios.

                  When you say hay quality is inconsistent, what do you mean by it? What problems do you see in the hay and what problems do you see in the horses that eat it?

                  Why are you feeding smart Pak supplements in addition to 5lbs of a bagged fortified feed and then I assume an RB? Not familiar with those brands.

                  Ottb do however often need more calories than other horses. Often a higher oil content helps. We have a locally available feed that people like for weight gain, basically alfalfa meal and soy oil. Very palatable.
                  It seems like every few weeks there will be a load that the horses do not want to eat. More so in the winter and spring before cutting (which makes sense). Sometimes it's a bit weedy, sometimes it's a bit old and I'm sure has little nutritional value. Currently the hay seems to be all grass hay (no weeds) and the horses gobble it up.

                  I don't give him a ration balancer, I've honestly never fed one and don't know exactly what they are. I know it's a supplemental feed. The supplements are basically for added fat, and the SmartMuscle (contains mostly amino acids along with other ingredients) is to help maintain healthy muscle. I'm switching his supplements however.

                  He is a bottomless pit lol! I've started him on flax seeds as a fat supplement, and he has done well on the beet pulp, but I would like to add in soaked alfalfa cubes.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by aknightstale View Post

                    My mistake using the wrong word. I wish there was a simple word to describe what I'm saying instead of a full sentence lol. Grains that have not been filled with corn/soy/artificial flavors, etc. Beet pulp and alfalfa are processed, yes, but when you buy it, there are no/less additives. So in that sense, it's less processed, for lack of a better word in my vocabulary. I'm also in the process of changing his supplements. I had him on SmartGain and SmartMuscle, but after figuring out the key ingredients and seeing what others had to say, I'm going with more simplified, "only the ingredients needed" forms (less or no fillers).
                    I'm not sure why you want to get away from "additives", but are still feeding additives in the form of straight vitamin E, and 3 amino acids. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with going down that path. But unless you have your hay tested and know that it's chock-full of enough vitamins and minerals, you can't know what just adding E and some lysine and methionine are going to really give you an optimal diet. And since the forage situation is much less than ideal, I guarantee it's not. You are getting a much better diet with the Strategy

                    Originally posted by aknightstale View Post
                    I don't give him a ration balancer,
                    Given his good weight on 6lb of Strategy, a ration balancer isn't going to cut it, calorie-wise. You CAN use it as the nutritional base, but then you'd have to add calories (let's say 4-6lb alfalfa pellets), and you'd still be feeding a commercial diet *and* spending more.

                    I've honestly never fed one and don't know exactly what they are. I know it's a supplemental feed.
                    It's a very nutrient-dense feed, basically. 1lb of a balancer contains about the same nutrition as the lower feeding amount of most regular feeds, so somewhere around the same nutrition as 4-6lb of what you're feeding now. But the total calories is a lot lower - 1300 calories, give or take, and a 1lb serving, compared to 1500 give or take and 6lb.

                    So I guess I'm still not clear on the Why behind this, since your proposed new diet still involves "processed additives".

                    Now, if what you really want is to avoid soy, that's totally cool - any particular reason? If you want to avoid corn, then avoid Purina. Higher quality feeds don't have artificial flavors.
                    ______________________________
                    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      You can maintain a horse without grain. My big concern in your case would be the lack of quality forage. It’s hard to maintain a good diet without either of those things included.

                      Are you willing to use a ration balancer? By definition, it has added vitamins and minerals, but is meant to “fill in the gaps” for horses eating forage-based diets with little or no concentrated feed, and is generally fed at a rate of 1-2lbs per day. If your horse is an easy keeper, he may do fine on just the ration balancer without any added concentrates (most are around 30% protein). It sounds like your barn feeds Purina, so check out Purina Enrich.

                      Can you buy supplemental hay? Is there somewhere the farm would allow you to store it? Adding in a few flakes of alfalfa each day could do a lot to boost your forage-based nutrition. Alfalfa cubes are fine but many horses get picky about them, and they go off fairly quickly once soaked. Same goes for beet pulp.

                      Finally, I would chat with your horse’s vet about his supplemental needs. If he is in good weight, what was your reasoning for the Smart Muscle and the Smart Gain? Cutting out unnecessary supplements may be an easy way to “naturalize” the diet.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        A VMS, an RB, and a fortified feed, would all contain the same basic added nutrients. The difference is how many calories and how much feed you need to get the same amount of nutrients.

                        A VMS is generally s few ounces top dressed on some other feed, can just be on soaked hay cubes if horse needs no extra calories.

                        A RB is the same nutrition concentrated in a pound or two of pellets. Also a good low calorie choice and less fuss than VMS plus mash. Also an RB can have room for more amino acids than a VMS.

                        A FF has the same added nutrition spread out so you need to feed 5 or more pounds to get it all. Good if horse needs calories.

                        Where people go wrong is feeding one pound of a FF or one cup of RB.

                        Basically like human vitamin pills all of these options contain isolated nutrients from various sources and that's a good thing because most hay is low in minerals and all hay is low in some vitamins.

                        I recommend Julie Gettys Feed Your Horse Like a Horse. It's in line with current best practices and will give you a nutrition overview that will sort out some of your confusion.

                        Comment

                        • Original Poster

                          #13
                          Originally posted by JB View Post
                          I'm not sure why you want to get away from "additives", but are still feeding additives in the form of straight vitamin E, and 3 amino acids. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with going down that path. But unless you have your hay tested and know that it's chock-full of enough vitamins and minerals, you can't know what just adding E and some lysine and methionine are going to really give you an optimal diet. And since the forage situation is much less than ideal, I guarantee it's not. You are getting a much better diet with the Strategy


                          Given his good weight on 6lb of Strategy, a ration balancer isn't going to cut it, calorie-wise. You CAN use it as the nutritional base, but then you'd have to add calories (let's say 4-6lb alfalfa pellets), and you'd still be feeding a commercial diet *and* spending more.


                          It's a very nutrient-dense feed, basically. 1lb of a balancer contains about the same nutrition as the lower feeding amount of most regular feeds, so somewhere around the same nutrition as 4-6lb of what you're feeding now. But the total calories is a lot lower - 1300 calories, give or take, and a 1lb serving, compared to 1500 give or take and 6lb.

                          So I guess I'm still not clear on the Why behind this, since your proposed new diet still involves "processed additives".

                          Now, if what you really want is to avoid soy, that's totally cool - any particular reason? If you want to avoid corn, then avoid Purina. Higher quality feeds don't have artificial flavors.
                          Gotcha. I was asking what people suggested adding if I went the more "basic" route. The Vit E and TriAmino was a start that I knew I was doing regardless of taking him off bagged grains or not...those were a couple of the supplements I'm doing in exchange for the SmartPak brand supplements that I specified. I am fully aware that is not all he would need.

                          I am trying to avoid corn and soy from now on. No, he doesn't have a problem with them that I'm aware of, but soy is not the source of protein I want him to get, or me for that matter.

                          It's starting to sound like sticking to a bagged grain would be the best option, but what is a good grain to move towards? I would for sure like to stop feeding Purina altogether. I feed my mustang TC Senior, but have also heard mixed reviews for Triple Crown. My paint mare gets Southern States Triple 10. There are so many options that it's overwhelming.

                          Thanks for the info about ration balancers.
                          Last edited by aknightstale; Aug. 14, 2019, 02:57 PM.

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            Originally posted by Equisis View Post
                            You can maintain a horse without grain. My big concern in your case would be the lack of quality forage. It’s hard to maintain a good diet without either of those things included.

                            Are you willing to use a ration balancer? By definition, it has added vitamins and minerals, but is meant to “fill in the gaps” for horses eating forage-based diets with little or no concentrated feed, and is generally fed at a rate of 1-2lbs per day. If your horse is an easy keeper, he may do fine on just the ration balancer without any added concentrates (most are around 30% protein). It sounds like your barn feeds Purina, so check out Purina Enrich.

                            Can you buy supplemental hay? Is there somewhere the farm would allow you to store it? Adding in a few flakes of alfalfa each day could do a lot to boost your forage-based nutrition. Alfalfa cubes are fine but many horses get picky about them, and they go off fairly quickly once soaked. Same goes for beet pulp.

                            Finally, I would chat with your horse’s vet about his supplemental needs. If he is in good weight, what was your reasoning for the Smart Muscle and the Smart Gain? Cutting out unnecessary supplements may be an easy way to “naturalize” the diet.
                            He is in good weight largely due to the supplements I have him on. Unfortunately, he is by no means an easy keeper, I have him on two supplemental fats (the SmartGain and Amplify). I'm trading in the current supplements for more basic ones (Vit E, TriAmino, Spirulina, ground flax seeds), so there will not be fillers.

                            I believe they would be okay with me bringing Alfalfa hay, he can be a picky eater so he may not like cubes. But he does love beet pulp, that's actually how I started getting him to eat powder supplements (he would always pick around them and only eat the grain or pelleted supplements).

                            They use primarily Purina but I do actually buy his grain, so switching feed is an option. From what the replies have been, and the hay that isn't always great nutritionally, I'm starting to think that sticking to a regular feed is maybe what's best.

                            Comment

                            • Original Poster

                              #15
                              Originally posted by Scribbler View Post
                              A VMS, an RB, and a fortified feed, would all contain the same basic added nutrients. The difference is how many calories and how much feed you need to get the same amount of nutrients.

                              A VMS is generally s few ounces top dressed on some other feed, can just be on soaked hay cubes if horse needs no extra calories.

                              A RB is the same nutrition concentrated in a pound or two of pellets. Also a good low calorie choice and less fuss than VMS plus mash. Also an RB can have room for more amino acids than a VMS.

                              A FF has the same added nutrition spread out so you need to feed 5 or more pounds to get it all. Good if horse needs calories.

                              Where people go wrong is feeding one pound of a FF or one cup of RB.

                              Basically like human vitamin pills all of these options contain isolated nutrients from various sources and that's a good thing because most hay is low in minerals and all hay is low in some vitamins.

                              I recommend Julie Gettys Feed Your Horse Like a Horse. It's in line with current best practices and will give you a nutrition overview that will sort out some of your confusion.
                              Thank you!! I just looked up Julie Getty and she actually had one of the articles that I read last week during my research on Flax Seeds. I will have to buy that to read. I wish I would have payed more attention to nutrition for horses before, so that will be a help.

                              And thank you for the easy explanation on feeds. I'm starting to realize I came into this with ideas that were a bit off about horse feeds in general.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Triple Crown Senior is a much better feed than any of the Strategy line. That doesn't mean all horses will do well on it, some definitely don't. But if you're going to improve the quality of what you're feeding, TC Sr is a much beter option. The SS 10-10-10 is a pretty high sugar feed, not something I'd be using. There's no reason they can't all be on TC Sr. Yes, there's soy, but there's nothing out there that shows any reason horses *in general* need to avoid it. Some may need to for sure. But 10s of 1000s of horses eat soy every day for years and years without any issues. TC will mean no corn, which I agree is something to avoid.

                                If you chose to avoid all fortified feeds, you'd need to use more than just vitamin E and Tri-Amino. Those things are great, but they are not all the fortification your forage situation needs. You'd want a really high quality one, such as California Trace, Horsetech High Point Grass (soy-free as well), Uckele Sporthorse Grass or UBalance Foundation, both of which I THINK (you'd need to check the GA) would let you eliminate the Tri-Amino. I think the California Trace would as well, but the HPG would still need it. You'd still need the Vit E, since the grass situation is poor, and hay has little to none.

                                And then you need the calories - alfalfa pellets would be a good starting point.
                                ______________________________
                                The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by aknightstale View Post

                                  Thank you!! I just looked up Julie Getty and she actually had one of the articles that I read last week during my research on Flax Seeds. I will have to buy that to read. I wish I would have payed more attention to nutrition for horses before, so that will be a help.
                                  I think given the grass situation, that adding flax for the beneficial Omega 3 is a great idea

                                  And thank you for the easy explanation on feeds. I'm starting to realize I came into this with ideas that were a bit off about horse feeds in general.
                                  Thanks for putting up with all the questions!
                                  ______________________________
                                  The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

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                                  • #18
                                    Is there no way to find out from Purina exactly what ingredients are in the Strategy feed you are using before you switch?

                                    If he is doing well on it now, you might want to know that before you switch him to something he may not do as well on.

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                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      Originally posted by JB View Post
                                      I think given the grass situation, that adding flax for the beneficial Omega 3 is a great idea


                                      Thanks for putting up with all the questions!
                                      Thank you for asking them! It definitely made me think harder about exactly what I would change and why

                                      I have heard of California Trace. Reading the information on it, it looks like it's a good supplement in general, even with a fortified feed?

                                      I will have to test out TC Senior to see how it works for him. And thanks for the info about the SS triple 10, I'll be switching my mare off of it. After hearing more about ration balancers, I may do that since she's a bit of a chunker and I wasn't feeding enough for real nutritional value (3 lbs a day so she could get her supplements and not feel left out ).

                                      I feel like I've learned quite a bit more through this post so thank you to everyone!

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                                      • Original Poster

                                        #20
                                        Originally posted by candyappy View Post
                                        Is there no way to find out from Purina exactly what ingredients are in the Strategy feed you are using before you switch?

                                        If he is doing well on it now, you might want to know that before you switch him to something he may not do as well on.
                                        I've had a few people say that Purina does have corn in it. I tried to look up the ingredients list for the Healthy Edge, but haven't been able to find any. I hate when companies make it hard to see what they have in their feed. It definitely couldn't hurt to e-mail them to see what exactly they have in their feed, but I would like to change to a higher quality feed anyway.

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