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Diet for horse that eats no hay?

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  • Diet for horse that eats no hay?

    The snow has really locked us down from riding or lunging, and I realized just how large my QH became from the lack of work and no change to his feed a week ago.

    He is a colits/IBD horse and eats soaked alfalfa cubes and TC low starch grain, cannot eat any form of hay.

    When he is being worked (Which Spring-Fall is everyday, sometimes 2x) he lives on 1 scoop of cubes and 2 scoops of grain 3x a day. (2 quart scoop). I know I need to drop this down as it is in the summer, while he does maintain well on it I think it's still too much.

    So far I dropped him down to 1 cubes and 1.5 scoops grain 2x a day, and 1/1 for the last feeding at night, about a week ago.

    I have never had a horse too fat problem, and I really have no idea how long to wait between dropping the feed to know if I need to drop it more. How long do you guys wait?

    Help me not to screw this up, and to get a nice weight back on my special little man? Thanks all!

  • #2
    I'd lose the grain altogether, get him on some sort of multivitamin/mineral/amino acid supplement to make up for what he's not getting, and get on and walk in the snow.
    Click here before you buy.

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    • Original Poster

      #3
      I'd be nervous about him sustaining on just vitamins and alfalfa cubes, seems like he needs some grain without the hay? Took a lot for me to get used to the no hay horse.

      We do snow walks, but then it ices up and we are stuck again. I can't wait till the stupid stuff melts and I can get us both back to work. LOL - he's not the only one getting fat.

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      • #4
        Why nervous? If the horse is fat, he needs to lose weight. There are only two ways to do that: take in fewer calories and/or burn more calories. The vitamin/mineral/amino acid stuff will provide the non-caloric nutrients he won't bet getting if you take the grain away. What you'll be removing, then, is simply calories. None of mine get ANY grain if they're overweight.

        Fat is a bad thing for a horse to be.
        Click here before you buy.

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        • #5
          Providing nutrition beyond the hay in no way means it has to come from grain

          It can be a ration balancer, or a vit/min supplement with added amino acids and maybe some minerals, it can be from smaller amounts of a Lite feed, and other options.

          Grains/grain products are nearly always higher in calories than forages. So, you can replace 5lb of grain with 5lb of alfalfa pellets, or other hay pellets/cubes, and reduce overall caloric intake.
          ______________________________
          The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

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          • #6
            Originally posted by PunkeyPony View Post
            I'd be nervous about him sustaining on just vitamins and alfalfa cubes, seems like he needs some grain without the hay? Took a lot for me to get used to the no hay horse.
            Grain is gravy - your horse will do just fine on cubes and supplements. No fat horse needs grain...none of mine get it (with the exception of my 32 year old mare).


            I fed an entire herd cubes when we had a hay shortage, through a nasty winter...they all fared just fine. I feed cubes quite often now, as a supplement to the grass hay we feed. The beauty of cubes is the control you have with portions. If I could afford it, I swear I'd feed cubes all of the time . I loved it because the barn and stalls were clean and I knew exactly what everyone was eating .
            Last edited by hundredacres; Jan. 18, 2011, 02:43 PM.

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            • #7
              I second taking him off the grain and adding a multi-vitamin, the only thing he'll be losing is calories.
              Do you have Timothy or another type of grass hay cubes availabe to you? You could switch to that from the alfalfa cubes to reduce calories as well.
              As far as needing "more" than a multi vite and cubes, I'm not sure what you mean...obivously he needs less calories. If this was my horse I wouldn't have him on any grain in the first place. Horses are meant to have stuff in their stomachs 24/7, and even though you can't feed hay, you could feed more hay cubes and no grain. I would be doing 5-6 smaller meals throughout the day of alfalfa cubes and Timothy cubes.
              come what may

              Rest in peace great mare, 1987-2013

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              • #8
                Another vote for ditch the grain. Providing a good vitamin -mineral mix instead, along with the alfalfa cubes will give him more than enough nutrients.

                PS: alfalfa cubes are chopped compressed alfalfa hay.

                I hope he is at least on turn out!!!
                Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.

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                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  I'm a newbie to having a horse that doesn't just eat the boarding barn basic hay and grain. Nutrition is a hard thing to pick up when nobody around you seems to understand it either.

                  I guess I worry because it seems like a pretty sharp drop off in calories for a horse that up until now has done well on this diet (BTW, this was the diet my vet had me feed). I also don't know how much in cubes he should get in replacement for the grain he is off.

                  In the summer when he's working, I think he needs the grain to maintain, he was about the right weight all last summer through show season. In my mind he could just do with a bit less grain. ?

                  I also don't know much about the vitamins or ration balancers(?), or how to decide what he would need in place of what the complete grain is doing for him.

                  So - I'm listening to what your all saying, but I'm kind of hitting a wall on what I would really do next. Anyone care to educate me a bit more?

                  I am at a boarding facility, and I'm already taking care of one of the feedings a day. I know it would be optimal to feed him more times a day than three, but I work too far from him to make that possible.

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                  • #10
                    It's not rocket science, really. Just choose an amount and go from there. If he's getting 6 quarts of grain now, cut it down to 3 quarts for a week, then down to 1.5 quarts for a week, then down to a double handful at each feeding and then cut it out altogether.

                    To add a multivitamin/mineral, simply find one that's meant to go with the kind of forage he's getting (in this case alfalfa, IIRC, in the form of cubes?) SmartPak makes a multivitamin/mineral especially for horses getting primarily alfalfa-based forage. Select is another brand that has different varieties for different types of hay diets. Go with something that is meant to be a complete vitamin/mineral supplement and feed the recommended amount. You will not hurt anything going this very conservative and straightforward route.

                    Yes, you can (and many people DO) make it a LOT more complicated than this, but it's not really necessary unless you have a really definite and specific nutritional problem. (such as excess selenium in the soil or something) The KISS principle works just fine for a majority of horses.

                    If he's fat, he's getting too much to eat. It is not something that needs to be delicately managed a smidgen at a time, really really.
                    Click here before you buy.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by PunkeyPony View Post
                      I'm a newbie to having a horse that doesn't just eat the boarding barn basic hay and grain. Nutrition is a hard thing to pick up when nobody around you seems to understand it either.

                      I guess I worry because it seems like a pretty sharp drop off in calories for a horse that up until now has done well on this diet (BTW, this was the diet my vet had me feed). I also don't know how much in cubes he should get in replacement for the grain he is off.

                      In the summer when he's working, I think he needs the grain to maintain, he was about the right weight all last summer through show season. In my mind he could just do with a bit less grain. ?

                      I also don't know much about the vitamins or ration balancers(?), or how to decide what he would need in place of what the complete grain is doing for him.

                      So - I'm listening to what your all saying, but I'm kind of hitting a wall on what I would really do next. Anyone care to educate me a bit more?

                      I am at a boarding facility, and I'm already taking care of one of the feedings a day. I know it would be optimal to feed him more times a day than three, but I work too far from him to make that possible.
                      Punkey horses should get 1.5-2% in their ideal body weight in forage per day. So if your horse weighs 900# he should be getting 12-18 pounds per day, divided into at least 2 feedings (preferably more if possible). That's not cheap in some areas, depending on the price of cubes, but you can feed up to about 30% of that in soaked beet pulp or use some kind of "hay stretcher" (I'm not familiar with those though). I've used that formula with great success over the years. *Remember though, hay pellets are not considered an ideal replacement for forage because they don't have any stem length that is necessary for the horses proper gut function. If he's getting more than recommended now, wean him down to ideal amounts like deltawave mentioned.

                      Good luck!

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        Thank you for your great advice all! I will keep you updated!!!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I'd start with figuring out if you are giving him enough grain to meet his nutritional requirements. On the back of the bag, there should be a recommended feeding amount per lb. of body weight. The bag should explain it, but you can reduce his grain down to that amount per day and still meet his nutritional requirements. If you need to feed him less than that, you either need to supplement with a vitamin/mineral supplement, or switch to a feed that is more nutrient dense. Essentially ration balancers are designed to provide that same amount of nutrition per serving, but with a lot less calories per serving.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I disagree that ration balancers have a lot fewer calories! Many of them are actually quite chock full of calories. But there are grass/forage balancer types of supplements without all the protein, just the vitamins/minerals/amino acids that RBs are known for. A bit of a distinct difference--my ration balancer is about 1200 calories per pound, which is not insignificant.
                            Click here before you buy.

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                            • #15
                              I also..3rd or 4th(?) say ditch the grain. keep the alf cube and feed a vit/min...
                              Also...technically the horse is on hay. (alf cubes act like hay due to size of the fibers)( but, pellets do NOT)
                              Alfalfa is very high in nutrients~protein, fiber, calcium, vit A and vit E....and because you are feeding it in cube form it supplies 'scratch, hindgut heat...which is a good thing. So dont worry about no grain....
                              cheers

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Horses don't need grain, horses don't need grain, horses don't need grain, lather, rinse, repeat. Unless you are running a high-level sport horse where he burns A LOT of calories in hard workouts, your horse does not need grain. Especially if he's overweight. I've kept my horses fit for showing with hay, alfalfa pellets, beet pulp, and rice bran. Do some research for a vitamin/mineral supplement and knock out the grain. Just like people, dogs, and cats, it is not good for horses to be overweight and can lead to other health problems.

                                While he's not getting "hay" in terms of long, stemmy pieces, the cubes are essentially a "hay" product so he is getting the nutritional value of a hay, just not the long-time chewing efforts required.
                                "A horse's face always conveys clearly whether it is loved by its owner or simply used." - Anja Beran

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I don't know how many people posting (& recommending a dramatuc food change for an IBD/colitis horse ) have actually owned/cared for an IBD/colitis horse
                                  BUT
                                  please talk to your vet before you do any changes - you do not want to precipitate a colic episode!

                                  At present your horse's main food source is TC low starch analysis - how long has he been on this diet? is his digestive system stable on this?

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