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Feed-who do you talk to to get real answers?

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  • Feed-who do you talk to to get real answers?

    As we progress and advance in horse care, things we did "back in the day" have changed for better and leaves some of us older folks asking questions. I grew up feeding sweetfeed and oats and senior feeds. Supplements where needed. My horses are are well finished, shiny coats, healthy. Even so, I keep hearing that sweet feed is not good for horses but you need "MY" brand of feed and all your problems will be solved. Or you will see an article on the internet somewhere and it always seems to end as an advert for some feed or expensive supplement. I have discussed this with my vet and she suggested talking to our local extention agent-your thoughts?

  • #2
    Sweet feed is generally regarded as "not good" because it is very high in sugar and a lot of times isn't an actual fortified grain, meaning no added vitamins/minerals.

    I pretty much ignore what my vet says in regards to feed, the clinic is sponsored by Purina so she always recommends it. It's common knowledge that Purina isn't exactly the best brand out there.

    I get my info from my own research (I have a few books on equine nutrition and look up articles on the Internet) and I get info from this board, where members have decades of experience. Generally the recommendations you get on here are great! Although not 100% of the time.

    I've never talked to an extension agent but I've talked to multiple feed store nutritionalists. Never been happy with what they had to say, I felt like they didn't actually know what they were talking about, just kind of recommending what they were supposed to.


    Normally I would say don't fix what ain't broke, but I would really recommend getting your horses off sweet feed. Look at Triple crown, pennfield, blue seal sentenial, Seminole, buckeye, all good brands.
    Look at protein and fat content, ingredients, vitamins/minerals, etc.
    come what may

    Rest in peace great mare, 1987-2013

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    • #3
      I find I have an easier time if I *don't* listen to anyone other than perhaps someone independent (no feed company affiliation) with a degree in Equine Nutrition, preferably PhD level. Or just refer back to textbooks written by same, and keep remembering that FORAGE is 95% of what most horses eat so any fiddling with the 5% is really a drop in the bucket and less important.
      Click here before you buy.

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      • #4
        Local extension agent? LOL - so many of them know cattle, and have no problem telling you the best thing for your pasture is high sugar fescue designed to boost milk production in cows. So those guys are no better than vets - you have to know enough to figure out who knows the right stuff, and if you know that, then you probably know what you need to know anyway

        Look at peer-reviewed research articles, not just some article by some DVM without any reference to the information being based on science and not just opinion or personal experience. There are lots of scientific articles out there showing a relationship between long(er) term high sugar diets and development of metabolic issues later in life - just like people and Type II Diabetes. Lots of info on grass and sugars and metabolic issues. The NRC Nutrient Requirements of Horses is a great resource.
        ______________________________
        The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

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        • #5
          Extension agents are probably a good resource, given how many universities have posted handy nutritional tables for everything from what horses need to average nutritional content of various types of grass and hay. Between that information and the feed analysis most companies post on their websites, there's a lot of information already available to the average horse owner.

          I try to use common sense combined with talking to experienced owners with competition horses who look really good. For example, I do avoid 'sweet' feeds on the grounds that a sugar rush isn't particularly good for any critter with a pancreas *and* smothering it in molasses is how lots of mills get horses to eat crap (filler, grains that have started to spoil, etc). And feeds that have been mechanically "pre-chewed" can work out to being a better value than whole grains if the horses end up absorbing more nutrients from each pound of feed (such as older horses with old teeth).

          I feed a good quality mixed forage diet and supplement with a little bit of ration balancer, since it's hard for horses to always get enough of specific minerals, etc from a block and the protein's not quite where I'd like in the forage, and a bit of extra fat calories for the harder-keepers. It's cheaper than feeding a full ration of sweet feed, easy to customize, and the horses look and feel great.
          ---------------------------

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          • #6
            Originally posted by JB View Post
            Local extension agent? LOL - so many of them know cattle, and have no problem telling you the best thing for your pasture is high sugar fescue designed to boost milk production in cows. So those guys are no better than vets - you have to know enough to figure out who knows the right stuff, and if you know that, then you probably know what you need to know anyway
            The places I've lived that had extension agents (Clemson, SC being one of them) had equine-specific extension agents.
            Proud member of the "I'm In My 20's and Hope to Be a Good Rider Someday" clique

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            • #7
              I second an Equine nutritionist.
              Fillys By Vibank - 2017 Road to RRP
              https://www.youtube.com/user/jealoushe

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              • #8
                Originally posted by cleozowner View Post
                The places I've lived that had extension agents (Clemson, SC being one of them) had equine-specific extension agents.
                And that's fine. Like I said, if you can figure out if one you have knows enough about horses, then you're a step ahead of many others. But even then, "equine-specific" doesn't always mean they are up to date on current issues and research, and that they're not going off info they learned 20+ years ago, just like some vets.
                ______________________________
                The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

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                • #9
                  Depends where you are - we are so lucky because there is a wonderful guy at the Otter Co-Op. Check out your feed mills. Generally, simpler is better.
                  Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Foxtrot's View Post
                    Depends where you are - we are so lucky because there is a wonderful guy at the Otter Co-Op. Check out your feed mills. Generally, simpler is better.
                    Yes I've used otter co-op's nutritionist too and he is fabulous. Not just a pusher of their products. He's helped me a great deal with my mare and many others I know too.

                    FeedXL is another resource I've used. I already have a good amount of knowledge from reading books and talking to a good nutritionist, so FeedXL helped me ensure my mare had a balanced ration when I needed to switch some of her feed around recently (you can do all the calculations on your own if you have a good book, but I suck at math so easier to use FeedXL).

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                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Good suggestions, thanks. Our sweet feed is custom mix with added vitimins and minerals added, and minimum molasses. Like I said, we have been feeding this for years with no apparant bad results, including a couple very senior TB's. I am reluctant to discuss with the feed store as they are going to promote their own brands. My vet doesn't recommend and she is not sponsored by anyone so is open minded. Should I go with the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" plan or should I be concerned?

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                      • #12
                        If it's got minimal molasses, it's not a sweet feed If it's got lots of corn, oats, and/or barley, then despite it looking "ain't broke", then I would indeed still change. Those are just too high in sugar to be feeding lots of.

                        Now, if it's a base of cob, and you're only feeding a few pounds, I wouldn't worry. But if you're feeding 6, 8, 10lb, then I'd move on.
                        ______________________________
                        The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

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                        • #13
                          ...If your horses are shiny and a good weight, you're doin' it right. If they're sick, underweight or overweight, find what works.
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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by JB View Post
                            And that's fine. Like I said, if you can figure out if one you have knows enough about horses, then you're a step ahead of many others. But even then, "equine-specific" doesn't always mean they are up to date on current issues and research, and that they're not going off info they learned 20+ years ago, just like some vets.
                            Instead of consulting a trained equine extension specialist, who is affiliated with a research university, maybe just ask strangers on an internet board, since they are mostly experts.

                            OP, I am not snarking at you. You ask a legit question.

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                            • Original Poster

                              #15
                              Originally posted by Hippolyta View Post
                              Instead of consulting a trained equine extension specialist, who is affiliated with a research university, maybe just ask strangers on an internet board, since they are mostly experts.

                              OP, I am not snarking at you. You ask a legit question.
                              LOL! Yeah, I have consulted with an expert, but I also like opinions from KNOWLEGABLE lay people who have experience feeding horses. Gathering info from many sources, throw out what doesn't work, keep what does. My horses are fat and shiny perform well without issues. I decided to keep my sweet feed but have reduced the molasses and added soy bean oil

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                              • #16
                                Originally posted by copper1 View Post
                                I have discussed this with my vet and she suggested talking to our local extension agent-your thoughts?
                                Local extension agents can be hit-or-miss, and I have never known of a local (county or regional level) equine extension person that has a graduate degree in equine nutrition...but they could be out there!

                                Many states have at least one Equine Extension specialist, and often these individuals have a partial (i.e. 25-50%) extension appointment in addition to teaching, advising and/or research at large land-grant universities. These individuals usually have graduate degrees (MS or PhD) in an equine-related area, and I'd say that the majority of them actually have their degrees in equine nutrition. Thus, they are generally well-qualified, usually unbiased and best of all, free!

                                Some examples of state equine extension specialists with Equine Nutrition degrees:

                                TN:
                                http://animalscience.ag.utk.edu/Facu...tMcIntosh.html

                                MD

                                NJ:
                                http://esc.rutgers.edu/faculty_info/ralston/ralston.htm

                                VA

                                KY

                                TX
                                *Absolut Equestrian*

                                "The plural of anecdote is not fact...except in the horse industry"

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                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by copper1 View Post
                                  My horses are fat and shiny perform well without issues.
                                  if it ain't broke....
                                  Being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it. Struggle is the evidence of progress.

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                                  • #18
                                    http://amymgillphd.com/

                                    She ain't cheap though!

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                                    • #19
                                      Extension agents can be great - they work for land grant universities and many have Ph.D.s in some form of animal science. Yes, many work on cows, but they can still show you how to analyze the diet of your horse. Alternatively, you can look up the faculty at your state Vet University - which is generally the land grant university, and contact the nutritional specialists on faculty. At the least, they can point you to resources (they are Ph.D.s on faculty). There are tons of sources to find minimum equine nutrient values for a horse like yours online, and lots of resources to estimate the nutrient value of your hay, your grain, etc., so you can see where you compare to the recommendations. You can teach yourself a lot about nutrition. Next, there are many excellent equine nutrition books out there. Lastly, there are equine nutritionists - often Ph.D.s or DVMs that specialize in nutrition - that you can hire to evaluate your horse and feed situation, and you can always send samples of your grass, hay or feed to your land grant university or a private company for independent analysis. You have a lot of options.
                                      Proud member of the Colbert Dressage Nation

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                                      • #20
                                        I think what you do is your own research and then talk to your resources and compile it from there for your individual situation. You could live in the best hay country ever but if your hay comes from a swampy pasture it's not much good. You need your hay tested and your animals analyzed and then fill in. If the bulk of your feed is good, your hay, then the gravy you put on there will either average you out or really top them out on nutrition. But I don't know of any one resource in any given area that can give you the right info.

                                        I work for a feed store and I will be very honest with customers-if we don't have what you need I'll tell you. But our store tries very hard to cover the bases and provide for each of our customers so if you come in looking for food for a senior horse I have some options. It's a fine line-I'm not trying to oversell but we probably have something that will work. We carry high end and low end b/c customers want everything in between.
                                        “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey

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