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Weight gain for IR horse, on a budget?

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  • #21
    I would use beet pulp, rice bran and dried yellow split peas and remove the alfalfa. Introduce changes slowly. I just test drove 1/4 cup of the dried split peas to my mare. She tasted them, crunched them, rolled her eyes and ears around and then decided she liked them! Sold! Tested a handful on one of my other mares and she, too, decided yep, would like some more please. Split peas - the same things you use for soup - very low glycemic index. Fully cooked only 43 (anything under 57 is low glycemic index), raw even lower, into the 20s.

    Excellent article here by Dr. Eleanor Kellon (happily referred me to her by other knowledgable CoTHers - yay CoTH!). She is a leading world expert on IR, Cushings, and other metabolic disorders. Articles on how to gain or lose weight, if you need to use something other than hay, yadda yadda. All kinds of nifty info.

    She says beet pulp can safely replace up to 40% of the horse's total diet! She also recommends split peas as a safer choice for protein, soybeans in some cases if your IR horse is proven not to be sensitive/reactive to soy (mine is).

    Her article can be found on this website - - a must for all IR/Cushings horse owners. My mare is neither IR or Cushings, but has severe laminitis due to vaccine reaction so I'm treating her like an IR horse. She is also becoming ribby (and pregnant to boot). I am LOVING this website.

    http://ecirhorse.org/

    http://www.drkellon.com/home.html

    And for another article that just refuses to link for me, here is the entire article by Dr Eleanor Kellon, VDM: (Note: This article is not specifically directed at IR/Cushings horses, as she does suggest oats for some horses, but take the applicable information for your horse as required.)

    Horse Hay and Alternatives

    Protein Boosters
    When feeding straw or low protein, stockpiled hay, choose from the following to balance your horse's diet.

    Soybean meal-2 oz. per pound of straw, 1.5 to 2 oz. per pound of low protein hay

    Alfalfa hay, meal or cubes-6 oz. per pound of straw, 4 to 6 oz. per pound of low protein hay

    Dried split peas*-4 oz. per pound of straw, 3 to 4 oz. per pound of low protein hay

    Ground stabilized flaxseed meal**-4 oz. per pound of straw, 3 to 4 oz. per pound of low protein hay

    Providing protein from several different sources is a good way to make sure the horse receives a variety of essential amino acids.

    * Dried split peas are the same as the ones you can buy in the market for making pea soup, but in some areas of the country they may be available in bulk. Check with local mills that mix their own feeds. They are used in feeds for other livestock, and are a favorite in horse feeds in many parts of the world. Horses love them and they are a good low sugar, high fiber (25%) and high protein (25%) food.

    ** Flaxseed is also rich in essential fatty acids (omega-3 and omega-6) and in proportions closest to those in fresh grass. You can find products at www.omegafields.com and www.horsetech.com and can special order in bulk from Uckele Animal Health, www.uckele.com.

    Unfavorable weather conditions can result in hay shortages, sending the cost of available hay through the roof. With gasoline prices so high, shipping in hay from areas of plenty may not be a viable option either. Shortages of good grass hay may be particularly severe since many grasses have a shorter growing season than, say, alfalfa. In some areas, grass meadows may yield only one cutting under the best of circumstances.

    This calls for some creative changes in the way you feed. But before getting to some possibilities, there are two things that you should not do:
    • Do not simply replace hay with more grain. The horse's metabolism and intestinal tract are designed to run on fiber, not grain. Hay is more than just roughage. It is food both for the beneficial organisms in the intestinal tract and for the horse's own body, and a natural source of precursors for vitamin A, D and K.
    • Unless your fields are in good shape, do not allow for more pasture time to make up for less hay. If the fields are also in poor shape because of adverse weather, the horses will be driven to eat things they would normally avoid, including toxic plants.

    Now, on to some alternatives:
    • Grass hay pellets or cubes are simply hay that has been carefully dried, then cut and compressed. It can be fed as an alternative to loose hay. And because the hay is high quality, you can often feed less than you do of regular hay (up to 25% less). The drawback is cost and horses consume them much quicker than loose hay so may develop vices like wood chewing because they have too much time with nothing to do. Bagged loose, chopped forage is also available in many areas, often with a light coating of oil or molasses. Mineral balancing/supplementation will be needed just like it is with baled hay, unless you use one of the newer complete balanced hay-based products such as Ontario Dehy's Balanced Timothy Pellet (www.ontariodehy.com-widely available in the U.S.), Sterett Bros. Low Carb Complete Pelleted Feed (www.sterettbroshayandfeed.com-Pacific Northwest and California) or Triple Crown's Safe Starch (www.triplecrownfeed.com).

    • Complete feeds or senior feeds are safer to substitute than straight grains, but they do still contain considerable grain in most cases. One with a fiber level of at least 18% and beet pulp in the formula will be the best. To determine the substitution rate, see the box "Converting Over to Complete Feeds" on page 14.

    • Substitute alfalfa hay or alfalfa cubes, pellets or meal for a portion of your grass hay. A 75:25 mixture of alfalfa and wheat bran is well balanced for major minerals, and a pound of this substitutes for up to 2 pounds of average grass hay. In other words, you'll go from feeding 20 pounds of grass hay to feeding 10 pounds of grass hay along with 5 pounds of 75:25 alfalfa/wheat bran as a starting point. A 50-50 mixture of alfalfa and oats can also be used, is well balanced, and a pound of this also substitutes for about 2 pounds of grass hay.

    Converting Over to Complete or Senior Feeds
    If you plan to substitute a bagged complete or senior feed entirely for hay, begin by feeding 20%- 25% of the recommended amount, cutting hay by the same percentage. Increase by the same amount every three days until your horse is completely switched over to the complete feed. Check with your vet or nutritionist to see if any supplements are needed with the feed (such as vitamin E, selenium, or iodine).

    If you are only going to replace part of your hay with a "complete" feed, first see what the recommended feeding amount is when it is used as the sole dietary component. Then compare this to how much hay you are feeding. For example, if the feed calls for 15 pounds per day for a horse the same size as yours, and you currently feed 20 pounds of hay, three-quarters of a pound of the complete feed will substitute for 1 pound of hay. If you want to cut your hay down to 10 pounds per day, substitute 7.5 pounds of the complete feed.

    • Beet pulp can be fed as up to 40% of the ration and adds calories in the form of easily fermentable fibers rather than high sugar, starch or fat. Substitute at a rate of 1 pound of beet pulp for 1.5 to 2 pounds of hay because of its higher calorie content. Beet pulp is a nice complement for hays that tend to be low in calcium, with a low calcium to phosphorus ratio, like oat hay or orchardgrass. Otherwise, you should add a high phosphorus source to the beet pulp to avoid introducing mineral imbalances. A 50:50 mixture of plain oats and beet pulp works well. Or try an 80:20 mixture of beet pulp and wheat bran. Beet pulp also absorbs up to four times its weight in water, producing a very large and satisfying meal. (Not oats for IR/Cushings horses).

    • Clean, sweet-smelling straw-although we don't usually think of it as a food-actually contains almost as many calories as an average grass hay. In a pinch, you can even replace hay entirely with straw, but you will need to feed more pounds of it in order for your horses to hold their weight. Straw is also lower in protein and minerals than hay, and particularly low in phosphorus. To correct this, feed one, or a blend of, the protein boosters from the list on page 12, and use a mineral supplement formulated to complement alfalfa hay such as Race VM from www.uckele.com or Select I from www.selectthebest.com.

    As a final note, all feeding changes should be made gradually. Substitute no more than 20% of your horse's ration at a time, increasing the amount at three-day intervals to allow the gut to adapt.
    Last edited by rodawn; Mar. 9, 2013, 08:24 PM. Reason: Fix formatting.
    Practice! Patience! Persistence!
    http://www.mariposasporthorses.com/
    https://www.facebook.com/MariposaSportHorses/

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    • #22
      More research tends to leave me more confused when it comes to Cushings diets!

      I know the traditional thinking is to avoid alfalfa completely with any horses that are founder-prone.

      However, with Cushings horses, sometimes it seems everything is upside-down! Mine (like many) is more apt to be foot-sore in the fall *not* spring and seems to do OK on alfalfa. There are such conflicting takes on what to do....

      Dr. Kellon advises to avoid alfalfa, but other sources (including Standlee, of course!) tout alfalfa as a low-NSC feed: http://www.chronofhorse.com/forum/ar.../t-176411.html

      Dr. Kellon is (was?) pro-rice bran, but others say-no, that's high starch (and according to the last link, high NSC). Beet pulp has low NSC, but other say don't feed.

      I have come to treat my Cushings guy more like a diabetic--not a foundered pony.

      So, no grain of any kind (obviously), including rice bran. No soy-based processed feeds. Have not had great results with beet pulp. I'm on the fence about flax--I've read conflicting ideas--avoid for phyto-estrogens or feed for anti-inflammatory benefits? I've opted on the side of caution.

      He gets orchard/alfalfa mix hay; lots of orchard grass pellets (soaked) for meal time with a vitamin/mineral supplement.

      I think with Cushings--it's so hard to define a clear protocol that works for each horse. If so far you're doing OK with alfalfa pellets and vegetable oil, then perhaps increasing (slowly) these two known quantities is a good idea.

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      • #23
        Originally posted by cai View Post
        I think with Cushings--it's so hard to define a clear protocol that works for each horse. If so far you're doing OK with alfalfa pellets and vegetable oil, then perhaps increasing (slowly) these two known quantities is a good idea.
        Unless I missed it, the OP's horse is IR but not Cushings. Same as mine.

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        • #24
          You're right--sorry! So used to thinking of them in the same breath...

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          • #25
            OP, you need to join Dr. Kellon's Equine Insulin Resistance & Cushings Yahoo group for the latest recommendations on feeding an IR horse. They recommend NOT feeding alfalfa because, even though it is low in NSCs, it makes many IR/Cushings horses foot-sore. Beet pulp (no molasses added) is very highly recommended, and is in fact part of their "emergency diet." IMO, you need to get over to that website pronto and get their advice, as it seems some people here (no offense, but you included) are not up on the latest feeding recommendations for IR horses.
            Topline Leather -- Bespoke, handwoven browbands & accessories customized with Swarovski crystals, gemstones, & glass seed beads. The original crystal braid & crystal spike browbands!

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            • #26
              Originally posted by cai View Post
              More research tends to leave me more confused when it comes to Cushings diets!

              I know the traditional thinking is to avoid alfalfa completely with any horses that are founder-prone.

              However, with Cushings horses, sometimes it seems everything is upside-down! Mine (like many) is more apt to be foot-sore in the fall *not* spring and seems to do OK on alfalfa. There are such conflicting takes on what to do....

              Dr. Kellon advises to avoid alfalfa, but other sources (including Standlee, of course!) tout alfalfa as a low-NSC feed: http://www.chronofhorse.com/forum/ar.../t-176411.html

              Dr. Kellon is (was?) pro-rice bran, but others say-no, that's high starch (and according to the last link, high NSC). Beet pulp has low NSC, but other say don't feed.

              I have come to treat my Cushings guy more like a diabetic--not a foundered pony.

              So, no grain of any kind (obviously), including rice bran. No soy-based processed feeds. Have not had great results with beet pulp. I'm on the fence about flax--I've read conflicting ideas--avoid for phyto-estrogens or feed for anti-inflammatory benefits? I've opted on the side of caution.

              He gets orchard/alfalfa mix hay; lots of orchard grass pellets (soaked) for meal time with a vitamin/mineral supplement.

              I think with Cushings--it's so hard to define a clear protocol that works for each horse. If so far you're doing OK with alfalfa pellets and vegetable oil, then perhaps increasing (slowly) these two known quantities is a good idea.
              Any of the articles I read written by Dr. Kellon, she prefers WHEAT bran to rice bran. She has also stated some Cushings and/or IR horses are fine with alfalfa, but others are not, which is also why she recommends split peas for protein source. My horses like split pea and it is very low in the glycemic index. Beet pulp manufactured without molasses is the only appropriate source for IR and Cushings horses, but you have to check because many manufacturers add molasses for flavour/dust control.Again, some horses are fine with soy, some are most decidedly not. As with people, horses are individuals.
              Practice! Patience! Persistence!
              http://www.mariposasporthorses.com/
              https://www.facebook.com/MariposaSportHorses/

              Comment


              • #27
                [QUOTE=rodawn;6878701]

                " Dried split peas are the same as the ones you can buy in the market for making pea soup, but in some areas of the country they may be available in bulk. Check with local mills that mix their own feeds. They are used in feeds for other livestock, and are a favorite in horse feeds in many parts of the world. Horses love them and they are a good low sugar, high fiber (25%) and high protein (25%) food."
                [/QUOTE=rodawn;6878701]

                Before you all go around recommending peas for IR horses, this full text paper says they run between 38-45 % starch.
                http://www.agrojournal.org/18/04-14-12.pdf
                Are you feeding your horse like a cow? www.safergrass.org

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #28
                  [QUOTE=Katy Watts;6881983]
                  Originally posted by rodawn View Post

                  " Dried split peas are the same as the ones you can buy in the market for making pea soup, but in some areas of the country they may be available in bulk. Check with local mills that mix their own feeds. They are used in feeds for other livestock, and are a favorite in horse feeds in many parts of the world. Horses love them and they are a good low sugar, high fiber (25%) and high protein (25%) food."
                  [/QUOTE=rodawn;6878701]

                  Before you all go around recommending peas for IR horses, this full text paper says they run between 38-45 % starch.
                  http://www.agrojournal.org/18/04-14-12.pdf
                  Hi Katy. What's your opinion on alfalfa pellets, veggie oil, and BOSS? I'm curious.
                  Tell a Gelding. Ask a Stallion. Discuss it with a Mare... Pray if it's a Pony!

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #29
                    Oh, and thank you 100% for everyone's input! I am researching all of your advice and giving it all some consideration. Equine diets can be confusing even when you don't have any dietary constraints in the mix!
                    Tell a Gelding. Ask a Stallion. Discuss it with a Mare... Pray if it's a Pony!

                    Comment


                    • #30
                      [QUOTE=sublimequine;6882518]
                      Originally posted by Katy Watts View Post

                      Hi Katy. What's your opinion on alfalfa pellets, veggie oil, and BOSS? I'm curious.
                      I never fed BOSS, am not wild about oil, but never needed it with enough alfalfa or alfalfa bagged haylage. For my very IR mare that was real fit, I fed her a pound of Moorglo on the way to meet my endurance riding buddy for a strenuous ride in mountain terrain. Seemed to keep her from losing too much, but then I liked to keep mine looking ribby and fitter than is currently fashionable.
                      Are you feeding your horse like a cow? www.safergrass.org

                      Comment


                      • #31
                        [QUOTE=Katy Watts;6881983]
                        Originally posted by rodawn View Post

                        " Dried split peas are the same as the ones you can buy in the market for making pea soup, but in some areas of the country they may be available in bulk. Check with local mills that mix their own feeds. They are used in feeds for other livestock, and are a favorite in horse feeds in many parts of the world. Horses love them and they are a good low sugar, high fiber (25%) and high protein (25%) food."
                        [/QUOTE=rodawn;6878701]

                        Before you all go around recommending peas for IR horses, this full text paper says they run between 38-45 % starch.
                        http://www.agrojournal.org/18/04-14-12.pdf

                        This was a direct copy and paste of an article in its entirety from DR. ELEANOR KELLON, a leading expert on IR, metabolic syndrome and Cushing's disease. These are NOT MY WORDS AND NOT MY PUBLISHED ARTICLE.

                        The article in it's entirty is here (if I can get the link to work): http://www.equisearch.com/horses_car...-alternatives/

                        The website Dr. Kellon STRONGLY recommends for IR and Cushings horses is one that promotes split peas very much. They might have starch, but fed raw, hard, uncooked and crunchy they have an extremely low glycemic index. Fully boiled their glycemic index is only 32. Raw, the GI is even lower. Anything lower than 57 is low.

                        The second you cook anything the glycemic index, starch availability goes up.

                        I just wanted to correct the statement that implied that these were my words, when in fact it is an article written by Dr. Kellon. I was merely copying and pasting.

                        I also preceded pasting of said article with the comment that Dr. Kellon's article was not specifically aimed at IR horses and to take the information only applicable to the horse in question.However, in consultation with Dr. Kellon, she has recommended raw yellow SPLIT Peas for my mare who is currently just trying to recover from very severe laminitis (due to vaccine reaction) and who is also pregnant. The yellow split peas have not sparked a resurgance of her laminitis and she does better on them than off. Whereas Alfalfa pellet did set my mare off even in very tiny amounts, even though it was tested as ESC 12%.

                        I have also always stated that what works for one horse may not work for another.
                        Practice! Patience! Persistence!
                        http://www.mariposasporthorses.com/
                        https://www.facebook.com/MariposaSportHorses/

                        Comment


                        • #32
                          Rodawn, glad to hear your mare is doing better I was following your thread and have thought of her since. Can we get an update?

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