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"Food Guide" for Horses - Does it Exist?

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  • "Food Guide" for Horses - Does it Exist?

    So here up north (ha), we have the Canada Food Guide, and I would assume that the States has something similiar... but what about our four legged friends?

    I know there are lots of people here who don't rely on a pre-made complete feed to make sure their horses are getting proper nutrition, so are there reputable guidelines for what a horse requires to be "healthy"?

    Ie, x year old horse or x kg horse requires y-z amounts of such and such a vitamin/mineral/etc

    Just curious, because I haven't been able to find much about what "proper" amounts are in a healthy diet.

    TIA

  • #2
    Not sure if this is what you are seeking, but take a look at a US National Research Council publication called Nutrient Requirements of Horses.
    Robin from Dancing Horse Hill
    Elmwood, Wisconsin

    Comment


    • #3
      There are a whole bunch of decent books on the topic, right down to one of my favorites, the USPC "A" manual. There is probably not just one authoritative one beyond the one Robin listed, but that one is pretty heavy going.
      Click here before you buy.

      Comment


      • #4
        I have a book that is very interesting, and pretty easy to understand, called "Feeding Your Horse For Life" by Diane Morgan. It was a Christmas gift from my mother a few years ago. There is a whole chapter on vitamins and minerals, and the amounts required, and also information on amounts that may be toxic (like with excess selenium). It is published by Half Halt Press.
        There are friends and faces that may be forgotten, but there are horses that never will be. - Andy Adams

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Robin@DHH View Post
          Not sure if this is what you are seeking, but take a look at a US National Research Council publication called Nutrient Requirements of Horses.
          They also have an online calculator: http://nrc88.nas.edu/nrh/

          It's not the most user-friendly, but it will do the math for you. It doesn't have commercial feeds listed, so you have to look up the ingredients of whatever you're feeding (I've never had a problem getting values for everything it asks for, either directly from the feed company's website or via a quick email to a company rep- every company I've ever emailed has been incredibly helpful).
          Balanced Care Equine

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          • #6
            Oh, an additional resource is a book by COTH poster Melyni Worth titled The Horse Nutrition Handbook. Dr. Worth has her PhD in Equine Nutrition.
            Robin from Dancing Horse Hill
            Elmwood, Wisconsin

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              Thanks for all the suggestions so far.

              What about suggested values for things like crude fat, crude protein, crude fiber, etc? Obviously a growing horse is going to require more protein, etc, but I haven't been able to find any solid documentation or research on suggested amounts.

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                So I just went on the website faybe posted so I could get a bit of a comparison between what my mare is getting and what she's supposed to be getting.

                I entered that her mature weight will be 415 kg, which is probably on the low side (she's a WB and will finish around 16.0-16.1hh), but it gave me the value closest to what her current weight is (she's petite; about 800lbs, so 363-364 kg, and putting 415 as her mature weight allowed me a current weight of 365 kg). I listed her as growing, and 26 months, as that is as old as you can go (she is 31 months, but definitely still growing!).

                Anyway, I realize that this site isn't the be all to end all, but I feel like it's a good set of numbers to go off of. Comparing what the site dictates she gets, and what she gets from her ration balancer alone, there are some deficiencies, particularly in Sodium, Calcium, Phosphorus, Sulfur, Potassium, and Vitamins A, D, and E. Wow, that seems like a lot typed out! Some differences are small, some differences are large.

                Now, I realize hay plays a huge part in nutrition, and I am going to ask my barn owner to get his hay tested (he grows his own), but until I have a hay analysis... What nutrients can I typically expect to find in a hay? She's essentially fed timothy/orchard hay ad lib, but I couldn't find any average stats for nutritional values in hay.

                From a "typical hay" stand point, are any of her "deficiencies" glaring and worth being corrected with supplements?

                Sorry for the million questions... I've recently started learning as much as I possible can on nutrition.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Now, I realize hay plays a huge part in nutrition, and I am going to ask my barn owner to get his hay tested (he grows his own), but until I have a hay analysis... What nutrients can I typically expect to find in a hay? She's essentially fed timothy/orchard hay ad lib, but I couldn't find any average stats for nutritional values in hay.
                  Good for you. Since hay/forage is (or should be) about 90% of what most horses eat, it's sort of silly to obsess over what's in the grain and ignore this gigantic part of their diets. I realize it's not always practical to test hay, but it sure makes sense to me to at least want to get some ballpark figures.

                  I have all orchard hay, and it averages from 9-12% protein (first cutting) and 13-18% protein (second/third cuttings) and is around 900-1200 calories/pound. Very, very low in selenium (like all hay grown around here) and sort of average on most of the other minerals--haven't got my spreadsheet handy right now.

                  I've found "average values" for forages in many different books. Try Google Books and see if you can search through.

                  FeedXL software is another option, and Kentucky Equine Research used to have a pretty good resource on their website for doing ration calculations.
                  Click here before you buy.

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    Thanks for the Google Books tip.

                    From the looks of it, I'm probably okay for Calcium, Phosphorus, and my vitamins.

                    I didn't really find any evidence of Sodium, Sulfur, or Potassium being in the average hay stats (or at least not enough to mention).

                    Recommended Sodium: 7.4g/day
                    Actual Sodium in RB: 6g/day

                    Recommended Sulfur: 10.9g/day
                    Actual Sulfur in RB: 1.5g/day

                    Recommended Potassium: 18.6g/day
                    Actual Potassium in RB: 6g/day

                    So, while the difference in Sodium isn't huge, the differences in Sulfur and Potassium are pretty big.

                    After a quick search, Sulfur deficiencies don't appear to be a huge concern amongst horses. The RB does say it has added Biotin, but the Sulfur level itself is still significantly lower than the recommended daily dose. I'm also reading that one way to ensure that your horse gets proper amounts of Sulfur is to provide a diet with high-quality protein, so that shouldn't be an issue as she has secondary sources of protein added to her RB.

                    The aforementioned "quick search" also tells me that most forages are high in Potassium, so it is rarely a cause for concern in most horses.

                    So, perhaps I'm being a little overly cautious with my horse's diet?

                    I will still make the request to get the hay test though, because I would like to have a concrete idea of what I'm dealing with, hay wise.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      A lot of times, even when you feed a ration balancer that has all the "extras", the volume being fed isn't enough to meet all horses' needs. Most of mine are on RBs, too, but only one is getting the recommended 2 pounds a day, so I add a general multivitamin/mineral supplement so they're covered.
                      Click here before you buy.

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        The comparisons I did were for the exact amounts that my mare gets a day (0.6kg). I just worked out all the percentages, mg/kg and IU/kg with that value, so it's accurate to what she gets daily.

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