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What do you feed your horses?

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  • What do you feed your horses?

    My husband and I have talked about changing our feed to a more natural approach. Oats, beet pulp, oils, etc. We spent over 2 hours at the feed store yesterday looking at all of the proteins, crude fats, etc. We currently feed Strategy, Alfalfa Hay, and a free choice grass hay.

    I'm curious, what your feeding combination is and why?

  • #2
    I've fed whole oats for about 6 years now.
    I brought horses home in 2004 and started feeding a 50/50 mix of steam-rolled & steam-crimped oats, then made the switch to whole - mainly for cost.

    Supplemented - according to individual horse's needs - with biotin, BOSS and Red Cell.
    For joint support I like MSM.

    Hay is orchard grass mix w/some timothy.

    Why do I feed like this?
    Bacause, for me, this KISS diet has kept horses in their teens to late 20s in blooming good health, as attested by my vet.

    horses are out 24/7/365, coming in for hay & grain in addition to my not-so-lush pasture.
    Last edited by 2DogsFarm; Oct. 10, 2012, 01:30 PM.
    *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


    • #3
      Horse can't eat any commercially prepared food, since many of the ingredients change. He gets straight alfalfa and beet pulp, along with a multi vitamin for horses on alfalfa and 9 oz by weight whole flax. He can't eat corn, oats, barley any grass hay. I board and Triple Crown is not an option.

      I was feeding LMF Low Carb until the alfalfa base went to "forage products", no more LMF. He also produces very bad body odor if he eats soy even though it is not a problem for him to eat. I've never smelled a horse that didn't smell like a horse went it sweat, he smelled horrible. Took him off anything with soy in it and he smells like a horse now.

      I use Feed XL program to balance his diet.


      • #4
        My horses get soaked beet pulp, alfalfa pellets, oats with a handful of flax and a vit/min thrown in there. They get a plain old grass hay mix. They have a pan of loose minerals. They look FANTABULOUS.
        It's also been cheaper for me, always a bonus.


        • #5
          Grass pasture, 24/7 when its available during summer months.

          Daily (in addition to pasture): each horse gets 1 lb alfalfa cubes, 1 cup of ground flax [they don't need additional calories and the alfalfa cubes are a vehicle for the flax]

          Winter: grass hay, same alfalfa & flax as above, and a ration balancer added to it. This year I'm using TC 30% (last year I used Poulin MVP and am trying something different this year).

          I like the "keep it simple" method and if needed, then start adding calories.
          "If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."


          • #6
            Grass hay and grass alfalfa mix.
            Summer turnout for limited times (IR)
            Winter turnout unlimited since we get three feet of snow.
            Soaked beet pulp
            Alfalfa pellets

            D-Carb Balance Supplement
            Omega Horseshine
            Vitamin E

            IR Related Supplements:
            Chromium Yeast and Thyrol-L
            Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans


            • #7
              I have 3 horses and a donkey. They are all on variations of the same diet....sort of.

              29 yo toothless mare:
              6# alfalfa cubes
              2.5# plain beet pulp pellets
              3# alfalfa pellets
              2# MidSouth Ener-G high fat/low starch extruded pellets
              SmartOmega supplement

              I divide the alfalfa cubes and beep by 3 and feed 3 times a day. The other pellets get divided by 2 and fed AM and PM.

              26 yo gelding:
              2# MidSouth Ener-G high fat/low starch extruded pellets (divide and feed am and pm)
              1.5# alfalfa pellets (am only)
              free feed pasture or coastal hay all day.
              2# alfalfa cubes & 1.25# plain beet pulp pellets soaked and fed in PM

              10 yo gelding:
              2# MidSouth Ener-G high fat/low starch extruded pellets (divide and feed am and pm)
              1.5# alfalfa pellets (pm only)
              free feed pasture or coastal hay all day
              SmartOmega supplement

              11 yo donkey gelding:
              2 flakes coastal hay
              tiny amount of alfalfa pellets and MidSouth Ener-G high fat/low starch extruded pellets (divide and feed am and pm)
              free feed pasture or coastal hay half a day.

              I started feeding the MidSouth pellets because they are low starch, have no corn and no molassess. I specifically chose the plain beet pulp pellets because they have no molassess. My mare started having some cushings like changes last winter (extra long winter coat and difficulty shedding it) She improved when i switched feed and started feeding her three times a day and added the SmartOmega supplement.
              "My biggest fear is that when I die my husband is going to try to sell all my horses and tack for what I told him they cost."


              • #8
                In summer pasture. For normal winter most of the herd only gets grass hay and my custom blended feed which is fortified in modest amounts.

                This year a couple older ones are switched to alfalfa while the main herd gets grass still. Their winter ration is going to make up for the hay shortage and they will be getting much more of a much higher fiber feed.

                So I guess that is one of my points. My feed changes if needs be.

                Also since I do have a herd of easy keepers I avoid BR's generally speaking. Too many calories and too much stuff I did not need....not enough of what I do need unless I over feed calories.

                I buy bulk and affordably. Farm direct and marker direct whenever possible.

                I do not like loose mineral and vitamin supp's. They do not mix in well and since I do not have time for a scoop of this and a scoop of that with an entire herd of horses then I do use a fortified pellet to provide vits and mineral.

                I have my own oat crimper and mixer now. QA/QC in my hands on the final product gratefully. Some of the new crop corn is coming in with extreme aflatoxin levels this year and tho the horses get no corn my cattle do. I guess the point there is you need to be aware of your ingredients and any potential issues/fallouts. Also be aware that corn byproducts and specifically DDGs actually concentrate the alflatoxin level not denature the toxins as many persons believe.

                I am not anti grain, but do use grains in moderation with this herd. I want whole grains. Whole oats which I crimp and mix daily. I want feedgrade oats as they are more fiber and less energy than premium oats. Whole roasted soybeans and flax are the only other grains these horses get.

                Whole grains without any other processing such as crimping/grinding? No, both the oats and flax are processed (crimped and ground respectively). Horse poop sprouts like chia pets if I do not. And lets face it ingredients are not cheap. But the whole roasted soybeans are very soft and even my old seniors have no issues chewing them.

                Excel is a lovely tool if you have simple math/computer skills to help to formulate a ration. If you lack feeds and feeding experience I suggest you start with the help of a prefab'ed feed/ration program or better yet start by picking a major feed company that makes both a fortifier and a balancer pellet for horse rations. Then you will have the benefit of the input from a company nutritionist.

                Finally the best advice is each and every ingredient has both benefit and drawback and the end product is the bottom line....not the ingredient. People get silly and label feeds good or bad. Wheat bran is bad, alfalfa is bad, corn is bad and so on. And they are not bad. But these ingredients can be used inappropriately and in too great amounts. So keep in mind just cuz 2-3lbs of this is good it does not mean 6-8lbs is better and when you formulate a ration if this ingredient has this drawback (say high in NSC cuz you picked one of the COB's) then you need to offset it with another(s) that benefits the ration (like a low NSC ingredient such as SBH pellets or BP). Then step back and look at the ration. Just for example the drought ration I formulated for this year is really meant to be feed between 5-10lbs per head per day with hay. Any less than that and I am lacking some micro's and any more and I am really over supplementing.


                • #9
                  For the one who can have it:

                  --Pasture 24/7 (fescue / bermuda grass). 1 Giant Equilix Tub. Separate salt lick.

                  For the other (Miss insulin resistant):

                  --Dry lot 9 months out of the year (only returns to pasture 24/7 after 2nd hard freeze) on free-choice fescue/bermuda hay in a small-hole-net.

                  --Soaked plain beet pulp with 2 cups of EquiPride, with 2 large handfuls of raw, in-the-shell-peanuts (for the extra protein). - Fed once a day.

                  Separate salt lick.

                  That's it!!
                  <>< Sorrow Looks Back. Worry Looks Around. Faith Looks Up! -- Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, but you don't have to sit on it.


                  • #10
                    Hay and 1 pound of ration balancer

                    I have a 5 year old mare in full work (ridden 5 – 6 days a week)

                    Being in CA, our grazing is limited much of the year, so I choose to feed a hay based diet. I feed a grass / alfalfa mix (80/20) twice a day, and straight alfalfa in a small hole net overnight (overall, alfalfa is right around 50% of the diet).

                    In addition, she gets 1 pound of ration balancer, designed for CA hay / alfalfa diet. In the spring (summer coat grow) I may add flax seed, in the winter, if I feel she needs more cals I may add oil. I also feed MSM when in heavy work.
                    APPSOLUTE CHOCKLATE - Photo by Kathy Colman


                    • #11
                      I have three horses 2 get grass hay mix in small hole hay nets a handfull of soaked beet pulp to give vit min mix.

                      Other horse gets free choice hay of grass mix hay and 6 pounds of TC senior.Hes a hard keeper thats the only reason for feeding him TC senior.

                      Want to keep it simple and dont want my horses too fat all three are a body score of 4.5 to 5. Plus iv saved alot of money not feed stuff that doesnt need to be fed. Plus they all have salt licks.


                      • #12
                        In the winter my easy keeper QH gelding at home gets:

                        Pasture :: up to 8 hours / day when ground is dry enough (2-3 days/week)
                        1st cut Timothy :: 10-20#/day depending on weather and pasture time
                        Triple Crown Sr. :: 1 pint (~0.5#) twice per day
                        Millenium Gold vit/min supplement :: 1 oz twice per day
                        AAKG / Jiagulan (DSLD/ESPA supplement) :: twice per day

                        He doesn't really need the grain, but it's a good vehicle to get him to eat his supplements rather than having to mix them with oil to make them stick to the Millenium Gold.

                        During the summer he gets less hay and more pasture time.

                        My reiner is boarded and gets a diet of alfalfa, a few hours of pasture time, and 1# of grain twice per day plus a joint supplement. He's fat, shiny, and sassy so he must be eating okay.


                        • #13
                          My 2 ponies at home have it simple. They get a ration balancer, and are out on grass pasture. Now that fall is here, and the grass is getting lower, they get grass hay as well. They are in good weight, have shiny coats, and are happy. Don't need much more than that, other than carrots from our garden.

                          My OTTB, however, gets TC Senior & Rice Bran, as well as a couple supplements.
                          <3 Vinnie <3
                          Jackie's Punt ("Bailey") My Finger Lakes Finest Thoroughbred


                          • #14
                            Pasture and mineral block, plus about a cup of corn each evening. Over the winter, free choice hay, whole oats, handful of corn, mineral block, and depending on their weight/appearance, weather, beet pulp soaked really well. I have done BOSS in the past, plus TC Sr.


                            • #15
                              I used to do soaked beet pulp, oats, a sweetfeed mixture and unlimited hay everyday. A few years ago I decided to simplify to the following twice daily: 1 scoop pelleted feed (nutrena), a 1/2 cup of flax seed and unlimited access to timothy hay. My horses get pasture turn out several days a week.

                              I also do limited supplements:

                              Gelding gets hoof supplement and feed through fly control

                              Mare 1 gets feed through fly control.

                              Mare 2 is ulcer prone and gets smart gut, quiessence, hoof supplement and feed through fly control.


                              • #16
                                Grass hay. Usually orchard, but currently meadow grass.

                                1 quart dry of a "complete feed" made locally. I soak the pellets and add their supplements to this.

                                Each horse gets 1/2 dose TriSport, 1/2 dose Selen-AT (natural vitamin E and selenium), and a full dose of SmartHoof.

                                My gelding also gets loose salt added to this from fall through spring.

                                I have tried to keep the supplements simple. I was pretty happy with the TriSport and SmartHoof (which I am using mostly for the copper and zinc, and the probiotics) combo. I recently added the vitamin E supplement as they are on a small dry lot, and get very little fresh grass.

                                The probiotics in the SmartHoof have REALLY helped my gelding, as he had problems with watery manure for the first 3 years I owned him. The SmartHoof made a HUGE difference, much more so than ProBios, which I had tried before.


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by snydere02 View Post
                                  My husband and I have talked about changing our feed to a more natural approach. Oats, beet pulp, oils, etc.
                                  What is natural about feeding oats, beet pulp, oils?

                                  We currently feed Strategy, Alfalfa Hay,
                                  That's what mine get.

                                  I'm curious, what your feeding combination is and why?
                                  I feed mine western alfalfa and Purina Strategy Healthy Edge. Western alfalfa is the best quality forage I can buy and the feed has been working well for my herd for over 20 years. No reason for me to change. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.


                                  • Original Poster

                                    Originally posted by Tom Bloomer View Post
                                    What is natural about feeding oats, beet pulp, oils?
                                    I've heard that processed grains are not as good for them. So we were thinking of taking a holistic approach. (I personally love feeding and have no issues making it complicated. It actually clears my head every morning and night.)


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by snydere02 View Post
                                      I've heard that processed grains are not as good for them. So we were thinking of taking a holistic approach. (I personally love feeding and have no issues making it complicated. It actually clears my head every morning and night.)
                                      Beet pulp, oats, oil, none of that is natural in a horse's diet. Oil is high omega 6's, oats is about 40% NSC, and, while beet pulp is a good product, you will never find bp shreds in a wild horse's stomach. Really, none of that is "holistic".

                                      A "natural" approach to feeding horses would be 24/7 turnout on a few hundred acres with lots of scrubby pasture. They'll get skinny in the winter, fat in the spring. You balance that out with some grass/alfalfa hay and a vitamin supplement, that is going to be about as natural as you can get while still keeping your horses healthy.
                                      come what may

                                      Rest in peace great mare, 1987-2013


                                      • Original Poster

                                        Originally posted by SAcres View Post

                                        A "natural" approach to feeding horses would be 24/7 turnout on a few hundred acres with lots of scrubby pasture. .
                                        This would be my dream situation, but I don't own a hundred acres.
                                        I was thinking of taking my situation and going as natuaral as I can.