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Feeding alternative forage

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  • Feeding alternative forage

    The last several weeks, my 5yo mare has been threatening to choke. So I went ahead and made an appt at the nearest vet hospital to have her scoped. Well this week, she did actually choke, just days before her appt. Thankfully, I work for my veterinarian and we got there within 15 minutes and cleared it, then I moved up her scope appt and took her yesterday.

    Long story short, she has a congenital deformity of her esophagus that is going to require special feeding for the duration of her life.

    Thankfully, that was all it was, and it is manageable, and I live in sunny South Carolina where we have grass 9-10 months out of the year, but the late fall, winter, and early spring will require some forage substitution to make up for the dormant grass.

    Due to her condition, hay is not an option, but we discussed soaked alfalfa cubes and soaked chopped forage. For grain, she will be on soaked senior feed 1. because of the great consistency it reaches and 2. because it is a complete feed that will help make up for the lost forage.

    So my question is for those that do substitute forage with a chopped or dried product, and what do you use and why?
    Strong promoter of READING the entire post before responding.

  • #2
    I would do what I do with older horses that can't eat baled hay anymore, and just substitute comparable hay pellets for the baled hay. If she does well on orchard grass hay, just buy orchard pellets. Or alfalfa pellets. Or whatever you like. You can add her regular grain and soak. Easy peasy.
    For the winter months when she doesn't have grass for any decent fibre length, I'd add in a small quantity of soaked cubes (since pellets soak down to a powdery consistency). Even soaked cubes present a bit more of a fibrous bolus to swallow (and they're more annoying to scoop) so my personal preference is not to use them as the base forage. Beet pulp is also an option for this purpose.
    As Peter, Paul, and Mary say, a dragon lives forever.


    • #3
      I have tried all the mentioned - cubes, chopped forage and beet pulp. FWIW, both my horse and donk prefer the beet pulp (without molasses) over the cubes or chopped forage. And I agree with CrowneDragon that the cubes can still be "big" when soaked whereas the beet pulp makes a nice oatmeal or slurpy consistency depending on how much water you add. Plus supplements blend in very nicely in soaked BP.
      It's just grass and water till it hits the ground.


      • #4
        i would definitely go with soaked hay cubes, so that shes still getting long stem fiber


        • #5
          I think hay cubes are your best bet. Horses without teeth eat soaked alfalfa cubes all the time, I don't think it would be an issue. They are a PITA compared to pellets or beet pulp. They're much harder to scoop and take longer to soak...then you have to go through and make sure all the cubes are actually broken up. But it's worth it in the winter when it will be the main forage source.

          I would try a mix of cubes, pellets, and bp. Feed in a muck tub or large pan on the ground to try to slow down her eating, maybe put some rocks or salt blocks in there too.

          You could also try something like TC safe starch but I'm not sure how long the pieces are.

          If you were really dedicated you could probably make your own chopped hay. Chop it finely, put a bucket together soaked, maybe add a little oil, and there ya go. I can't remember what you can use to chop the hay though, a wood chipper maybe? Not sure. Definitely worth looking into though, it could save you a lot of money in the long run.
          come what may

          Rest in peace great mare, 1987-2013


          • #6
            In a big fan of the alfalfa cubes, I throw them in with my mare's beet pulp and soak for 15-30 min, it makes a nice little slurry.


            • #7
              Here's what I have used, and I like all of them:

              1. Chaffhaye. This is a wonderful product. Soft, tasty, chopped, full of healthy probiotics, high in protein (and everything else), very low in sugar--much lower than fresh Alhttp://www.chaffhaye.com/

              2. Ontario Timothy Balance Cubes. These are balanced (require no supplementation), soft (even dry), and low sugar. When wet, they fluff up quickly, so soft and appealing. Like fresh grass. Really nice product. It's Timothy + Beet pulp. Very low sugar.

              3. Mountain Sunrise Bermuda pellets. These are the best pellets! There's nothing in them but bermuda. Not even a binder. They are super soft. You can crush them in your finger. One drop of water will fluff up a pellet beautifully. Oh, these are also super low in sugar. Great product.

              I blogged about them here: https://www.facebook.com/LifeWithOde...37257543059316
              I have a Fjord! Life With Oden


              • #8
                OP, if you don't do your own feeding, be very careful with cubes. Most take a long time to soak properly, and if your feeders aren't patient, they'll give your horse a bucket of wet, half-hard cubes. I have seen this many times.
                As Peter, Paul, and Mary say, a dragon lives forever.


                • #9
                  I have never found better chopped forage in the USA than that distributed by Lucerne Farms out of Maine. Seminole gets the formerly Happy Hoof now Equi-Safe from Lucerne. But you do not need the diet forage, you need one of the other Lucerne products. So call Larry Mack at Seminole feeds down in FL and he'll tell you which forage is best for Rory Girl.

                  And the Seminole alfalfa cubes, if they are still freeze dried and green and flakey, are far superior to all the other alfalfa cubes distributed down here. I've not bought them in years either but when I did, they were great. They weren't those hard bricks of crap that purina and adm sold me. And they soften quickly. (I think that a lot of companies sweep up dust and dirt and trash and put the in their chopped forages and feeds, since when I've soaked them, I get a lot of sand and crap in the bottom. Not so with Lucerne Farms and Seminole products.)

                  I tried to find some of the timothy cubes from Canada down here, but when I contacted the Canadian supplier, the lady said they did not have a distributor in our area.

                  You can get pretty good beet shreds around here. What did John say about using those? They soak a lot faster than beet cubes and they are a lot cleaner than the beet cubes.


                  • Original Poster

                    Thanks for all the suggestions. She can tolerate chopped forage without an issue, and alfalfa cubes won't be an issue as the BO has 2 saintly elderly geldings with no teeth, so there is always a bucket sitting and soaking of cubes. The reason we ran into a problem last week was because he had soaked her pellets for the same amount of time as he had soaked the elderly horse's senior feed, which was just no sufficient for that different type of feed. Truly my fault, as I know better than that and should have been more definitive in my instructions to soak the pellets for 45 minutes as opposed to the 15 needed for senior feed and warm water.

                    CloudyandCallie, I am going to stop over at the Mercantile here where they sell seminole and see what they have. I also do like (and she tolerates well) the TC chopped forages. Those are appropriate in length and consistency for what we are working with. And John advised beet pulp was fine as well, I just want to try and find some form of grass-type forage that she can tolerate before I throw in the towel.

                    That was a great idea to make your own chopped forage... I had never thought of that option and I already have a barn full of hay that I purchased for the winter. Thankfully I had only bought half of my stock, and that will be sufficient to get the rescue pony I have through the winter, and still have enough left to take with us in the spring to shows...so if I can't make that work for Rory, it won't be a waste.
                    Strong promoter of READING the entire post before responding.


                    • #11
                      Lucerne Farms Dengie is expensive, but a great product. It comes in several varieties so you can see what she prefers. The neighbor's old pony was on the alfalfa Dengie for years.


                      • #12
                        I like Lucerene Farms products as well as Triple Crown's.