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Feeding non commercial horse feeds

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  • Feeding non commercial horse feeds

    I once ran into a lady who feeds what she called "non commercial horse feed", which essentially was alfalfa pellets, oatmeal (she literally purchases Quaker oats from the grocery store), BOSS and maybe something else in there. She showed me the small amount of feed the horses ate and they were all fat, shiny and healthy. I have been thinking about her feeding regimen and trying to do research, but I haven't come up with much. Does anyone feed anything similar or heard of anything like this?

  • #2
    A friend of mine feeds organic whole oats, organic alfalfa pellets, a vit/min supplement, and a mixture of seeds (flax, sunflower, and pumpkin), along with free choice grass/hay. Her horses appear to be in great health.

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    • #3
      Especially for horses who don't need much beyond hay, I believe it is quite common. Especially for those who already farm some of the ingredients. We make our own feeds here, mostly for lack of commercial alternatives that we trust.
      HAS provides hospital care to 340,000 people in Haiti's Artibonite Valley 24/7/365/earthquake/cholera/whatever.
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      • #4
        There have been some recent threads on here about feeding "natural horse feeds" which probably cover the topic pretty well. In general, many horses don't need anything beyond good grass or hay, and a ration balancer or supplement to make up what the hay might be missing. I am guessing that your friend has good hay as a basis, and feeds enough of it.

        I feed something quite similar to what you describe: alfalfa cubes, small amount of whole oats, ground flax, salt, and a vitamin/mineral supplement, in a mash. I got set up on this regimen by my coach a few years ago, and when I ended up taking an intro to horse nutrition course last year, I realized that my coach really knows her stuff! It's much cheaper than a pelleted or extruded complete feed, and the horses mostly thrive on it. My coach will go for a commercial high-cal feed for her older thoroughbreds, though.

        I can't however see the point in buying supermarket rolled oats. First, they are *so* much more expensive per pound than whole or flatted oats (especially if she's buying Quaker oats not noname bulk). Second, I think it's a good thing that horses get the oat hull; human oats might too glycemic for horses?

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Scribbler View Post
          I feed something quite similar to what you describe: alfalfa cubes, small amount of whole oats, ground flax, salt, and a vitamin/mineral supplement, in a mash. I got set up on this regimen by my coach a few years ago, and when I ended up taking an intro to horse nutrition course last year, I realized that my coach really knows her stuff! It's much cheaper than a pelleted or extruded complete feed, and the horses mostly thrive on it. My coach will go for a commercial high-cal feed for her older thoroughbreds, though.
          I'm curious, how do you make this work more cheaply than commercial feeds? Maybe it's just the difference in the regions?

          I only ask because I feed my horses similarly, but it costs WAY more for me to purchase the ingredients separately than if I were to purchase even a top-of-the-line commercial feed.

          A bag of whole oats in my area costs almost as much a bag of Triple Crown Senior, for example. Alfalfa cubes and pellets aren't much cheaper. Don't even get me started on the price of flax when you can find it. And when I compare them, the vit/min supplements out there nearly all cost more to feed per month than the ration balancer I currently use.

          Pound for pound, it costs me a whole lot more to put the stuff together myself than feeding a single commercial product.
          Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO

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          • #6
            Where I live, 40 lbs of oats are $12, and 40 lbs of alfalfa cubes are $15. I feed 1.5 lbs of oats and 1.5 lbs of cubes per day, so a bag lasts a month (total $27/month).

            The commercial feeds that I'm familiar with are $18 to $20 for a 40 lb bag. The recommended feeding is several kilograms a day, and works out to 4 bags a month ($80). Also, manufactured feed is subject to sales tax, while oats and cubes aren't, so add 12 % to the $80. If you don't feed the full recommended feeding, you aren't getting the full vitamin/mineral ration.

            I am cheating a bit on the numbers, though, because my vitamin/mineral supplement is quite expensive, and adds another $50 a month to the total. I did go a long time only feeding half the recommended amount, though.

            Flax is about $35 or $40 for a 40 lb bag, but I only feed a cup a day, so it lasts forever.

            I like this regimen because I can reduce the grain component without reducing the vitamin/mineral intake.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Texarkana View Post
              A bag of whole oats in my area costs almost as much a bag of Triple Crown Senior, for example. Alfalfa cubes and pellets aren't much cheaper. Don't even get me started on the price of flax when you can find it. And when I compare them, the vit/min supplements out there nearly all cost more to feed per month than the ration balancer I currently use.

              Pound for pound, it costs me a whole lot more to put the stuff together myself than feeding a single commercial product.
              It really must vary by location based on the local crops. I pay $12.99 for a 50lb bag of whole oats, versus $27.99 for a 50lb bag of TC Senior. Calorie for calorie, you will have to feed more volume of the cheaper ingredients, so make sure you do the math both for equivalent calories and cost per pound (or per day, or however you like). I switched from TC Senior for other reasons, but it does turn out to be a few dollars cheaper.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Heinz 57 View Post
                It really must vary by location based on the local crops. I pay $12.99 for a 50lb bag of whole oats, versus $27.99 for a 50lb bag of TC Senior. Calorie for calorie, you will have to feed more volume of the cheaper ingredients, so make sure you do the math both for equivalent calories and cost per pound (or per day, or however you like). I switched from TC Senior for other reasons, but it does turn out to be a few dollars cheaper.
                It must be. A bag of whole oats at my local feed store is $18/50 lb bag. Just for example, I think I last paid around $22 for a bag of TC Sr. Either way you slice it, pound per pound or calorie per calorie, it is significantly more expensive to put the ingredients together in my area. It may just be supply and demand around here.
                Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO

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                • #9
                  Before having two PSSM horses (brothers), I was feeding just whole oats, alfalfa pellets and boss plus salt and good pasture/hay. My horses loved it and they all looked fantastic. I didn't have to feed a ton of either it.

                  I love BOSS and have never had any trouble feeding it, even as much as 4 cups a day. Beware that there is a supposition out there that Omega 6 fatty acids, which BOSS is high in, are inflammatory and may exacerbate conditions like arthritis, etc. It's not been proven and you can even find articles that debate that all fatty acids are good rather than bad; and there is no established science for what an appropriate ratio of Omega 6 vs. Omega 3 is for horses. However, if you have an arthritic horse, you may want to stick to adding no more than 2 cups a day of BOSS to their feed.

                  I loved the sunflowers feeding BOSS deposited in my pastures and I swear it put the most incredible dapples on my horses along with great hooves. All of my horses are barefoot and have great feet. I recently switched to feeding Triple Crown Senior (plus oil for my PSSM horses) to simplify my feeding regimen, but if my horses don't hold condition the way they did previously using BOSS (along with alfalfa pellets, no molasses beet pulp, a vitamin supplement and salt), I won't hesitate to switch back.
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                  • #10
                    I checked the feed bags at the barn last night. My alfalfa cubes are actually a 50 lb bag for $15. The supplement works out to $46/month. I ran this all through the calculator on my cell phone and yes, $27/month for the oats/cubes for a total of $73/month (not counting minimal flax and salt).

                    (Just realized that oats here are in 20 kilo bags, which is actually 44 pounds, not 40, which knocks about $1.50 off my monthly total)

                    Also, this is the most oats and cubes I have ever fed her to date. I've been trying to up her energy under saddle. But last summer I was feeding half a pound of oats, and 12 ounces of cubes. She was sleek and shiny. Last year I went from half the serving of vitamin/mineral supplement to the full serving. I think the increase has helped her feet, subtly, but she was always very healthy. So I could "get away" with feeding her less of everything, for sure.

                    It could be more cost effective to buy alfalfa hay and feed a couple of pounds a day. Cubes are 30 cents a lb, alfalfa hay is 25 cents a lb, $500/ton --- if the bales are true weight. I have rarely had a bale that is true weight from any supplier, any kind of hay. But at the rate I'm feeding cubes, it wouldn't be a huge savings.

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                    • #11
                      You guys have been talking about Triple Crown Senior, but the cost of a ration balancer is significantly less to feed per day vs. anything, unless I'm missing something. I mean for horses that just need something light beyond their hay/grass.

                      I'm assuming some people do this because they want it to be organic, etc.?

                      I had a horse I fed whole oats + ration balancer to once. I think he got alfalfa grass mix hay. But as a boarder currently, I'm feeding Triple Crown Senior. Horse needs really low NSC feed and it's easier for the staff (I'd thought about adding oil, etc. and decided to keep it simple).
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                      • #12
                        I've been feeding a variation of this for years. Mainly, because I want to get more water into my horses any time that I can. Alfalfa cubes, whole oats, their little scoop of vit/min and either whole flax or cocsoya oil depending on which i had access to when I ran out of the last one. They have a netted round bale of orchard grass mix hay all the time. This is the PERFECT formula for them. Oil slick, shiny, happy, playful yet sane..... They're probably getting barely 2lbs of dry cubes and less than 2 cups of oats a day..in the winter and really nasty summer, I split it into two feedings so I can get even more water into them.
                        Kerri

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by TrotTrotPumpkn View Post
                          You guys have been talking about Triple Crown Senior, but the cost of a ration balancer is significantly less to feed per day vs. anything, unless I'm missing something. I mean for horses that just need something light beyond their hay/grass.

                          I'm assuming some people do this because they want it to be organic, etc.?
                          I gave the TC Sr example only as a price example, because it was mentioned that "mixing" your own feed can be cheaper than buying a pelleted and extruded complete feed. I was just using it to show that's not true in my area.

                          Also, I don't know about other folks, but my TBs can't maintain weight on ration balancer and grass/hay alone. When you have to add extra calories to a ration balancer, it sometimes becomes just as expensive (or more) than many traditional feeds. So it's not always the "cheapest" option depending on your horses' needs.

                          Personally, I care very little about "organic" feed, but I do think there's value in feeding whole or minimally processed ingredients when possible. If I could ditch the ration balancer for balanced, whole ingredients, I would. But that's hard to do, especially without a vitamin/mineral supplement. Then I find the vitamin/mineral supplements out there are a) extremely expensive considering what they are, and b) come from just as dubious origins as the over processed feeds.
                          Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO

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                          • #14
                            Even with ration balancer, you need to feed the recommended amount to get all the vitamins and minerals, which are "stretched" with, typically, grain by-products, soy hulls, or beet pulp. The ones I have seen want you to feed multiple kilos, and they are not cheap. If you are happy with the ingredients of the ration balancer, and that is an appropriate diet for your horse, and the price is right, it would make sense.

                            I realize some people feed "just a handful" of ration balancer, but that isn't how they are designed. Whereas with a free-standing supplement, you can add it to "just a handful" of oats or cubes or soy hull/beet pulp pellets in a mash, and control the calories that way.

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                            • #15
                              I may actually be saving about $40 a month feeding TCSr rather than mixing my own feed with alfalfa pellets, beet pulp, BOSS, vitamins and salt.

                              I think when I looked at ration balancers, they all were 16% and higher in NSCs which I need to stay away from with my PSSM horses. I am feeding each 6lbs of TCSr per day. Right now they are only getting pasture but that's about to peter out. Then they'll be getting free choice mixed grass hay (coastal, fescue, oat) which is decent but not fabulous.
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                              • #16
                                Ainimed has supplements balanced for either alfalfa or grass. Pretty cheap v/m supp. I used to use just whole oats,alfalfa hay and v/m/salt. Horses looked fantastic. I'm not entirely convinced that I like the way they look now with Nutrena low starch feed fed as directed ,a flake alfalfa, and free choice grass hay. I just started using the animed and I'm considering going to beet pulp,flax,sunflower seeds instead of the Nutrena.
                                I'd love to feed a RB to the two fatties but can't find any for sale in my area. My skinny TB needs more than a RB.
                                I loved using Progressive or Buckeye feeds when I could get them but they are pricey and hard to find.

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                                • #17
                                  Mixing your own may be cheaper, but the premium commercial brands are formulated by experts, and usually very consistent wrt ingredients. They are usually always up to date on the latest research and not easily influenced by the latest fad on the internet.
                                  "When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in a confederatcy against him."

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                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by TrotTrotPumpkn View Post
                                    You guys have been talking about Triple Crown Senior, but the cost of a ration balancer is significantly less to feed per day vs. anything, unless I'm missing something. I mean for horses that just need something light beyond their hay/grass.

                                    I'm assuming some people do this because they want it to be organic, etc.?

                                    I had a horse I fed whole oats + ration balancer to once. I think he got alfalfa grass mix hay. But as a boarder currently, I'm feeding Triple Crown Senior. Horse needs really low NSC feed and it's easier for the staff (I'd thought about adding oil, etc. and decided to keep it simple).
                                    I mentioned the cost of TC Senior because it's what my horses were on, but I had to cut one down far enough (4lb a day) that he wasn't getting the recommended minimum. Yes, I switched him to a RB, but I still need to add the extra calories to make it equal. I was happy to switch the other one too, because he just isn't putting on the weight he needs and it was time to try something else. I don't care about whether it's organic or not.

                                    Yes, my feeding plan is complicated and slightly labor intensive as compared to the scoop n' dump method with commercial feeds. But, mine are at home and I can do as I please, if it takes me half an hour to stuff hay nets and mix grain buckets it doesn't bother anybody.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      I'm not sure we get any of the American pelleted/extruded feed brands in Canada; everything I'm familiar with is milled locally. We have expensive feeds, senior feeds, hi-cal feeds, foal feeds, etc. etc. but I'm don't know which ones, if any, would be considered "premium" feeds.

                                      It's also possible that, as with many manufactured items in Canada, the market is so much smaller that the price is higher. I can see that American feed manufacturers would have economies of scale, particularly with the agricultural by-products that are the bulk of all pelleted/extruded feeds: beet pulp, wheat bran, wheat middlings, soy hulls, etc.

                                      I'm also not sure how much R & D goes into our locally milled pelleted/extruded feed. I am sure there are nutrition techs on staff, but my guess is they would be copying formulas and research from American companies. So I wouldn't feel entirely secure in saying that anything available to me is "formulated by experts" or even that it is consistent in ingredients.

                                      On the other hand, so far I've never heard of a monensin contamination recall in Canada, yet.

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                                      • #20
                                        Canada has Purina feeds, at least, just not the same products we do. But, ther are equivalents in many places - I think Enrich Plus here is Equalizer there, for example.
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