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Nutrition percentages in feed: how much is too much?

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    Nutrition percentages in feed: how much is too much?

    So I've been educating myself on feeding practices here on COTH for a few months. Never realized there were so many options and theories! Anyhow, I'm working on adding some fat to my bony OTTB and I'm looking around at feeds. I have a few questions about the nutritional percentages...

    How much fat is high fat? I have seen feeds that range from 5% to about 12%, and obviously 12 is more, but should I look for even higher?

    I'd love to know the same about protein, for you folks (EqTrainer and disciples, mostly!) that advocate the high-protein, low-fat diet for weight gain.

    Finally, the various counts for lysine, starch, and NSC (are these last two the same thing on a feed label??).

    The thing that I'm wrestling with also is this - I've got him on a diet balancer that is 30% protein which sounds like a lot, until you figure that he doesn't get but 1lb of that daily and 1/3lb protein is lessthan he gets from the 12% sweet feed he gets daily. Any insights on balancing this?

    On another note - the new feed program I design needs to be as low maintenance as possible. The BO already is being nice letting me add diet balancer, so I need to keep her scooping from different bags, etc, to a minimum. All the horses on the farm get the same feed except 2 and mine - locally milled 12% sweet, up to 4lbs daily. I've asked about more $, and she would rather not have the worry than make more $. The other thing I'm considering and haven't tried yet is to buy enough buckets to make his feed for a few days pre-scooped so she can just dump it. Beet pulp and soaking is definitely not an option though, and I prefer not to do oil because it can't be premixed.

    Well, first, I don't think it is about high protein per say.... more about quality protein. Good RB's will supply that, also I've had Uckele Tri-Amino recommended to me.

    I can relate to your plight-- I am constantly fighting the feed battle at my current boarding barn. They too feed a locally milled 12% pellet, and nearly everyone gets the same quantity. They don't get why I feed supplements, or why I don't like the grain. I get a lot of this:

    My recommendation to you would be to portion everything into those big ziplock storage bags. So, everything you want fed for AM feeding. Everything you want fed for PM feeding. Then label as such. Bonus points if you can make AM and PM the same so the BO doesn't even need to think about picking up an AM or a PM bag.

    I was re-reading the "Tell us about your feeding program EqT" thread last week, and yesterday had a conversation with EqTrainer about this stuff. She reminded me to feed for nutrition and not body condition. Essentially, body condition will come when the nutrients are there...
    We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.


      Why shy from oil? It can be pre-mixed.

      My TB gets 3qts Vintage Performance LS and a baggie dumped in that contains 1 cup flax, 3 cups alfalfa pellets, 1 scoop Ultra Elite Digest and 1 cup canola oil. That baggie is pre-made and easy for feeders to just dump on top of the grain. And I like the fact that the oil "soaks" the alfalfa pellets.

      I would also shy away from the sweet feed if you can.

      You could look for other fat/protein sources outside of grain such as oats, rice bran, flax, oil and alfalfa pellets.


        So what I have been thinking that what I will do is put him on the Seminole Wellness pellet low-starch feed. The chiro/vet is coming out Saturday and I'm going to discuss it with her, but I think he may have an ulcer issue anyhow and so could benefit from the low-starch. I think if I use the "he needs a low-starch diet for medical reasons" excuse then I can get away with that.

        I asked the question because I'm picking feeds and want to go high-fat... but also because I'm feeding Equalizer RB from Seminole and it's 32% protein. The BO was reluctant to even give him the full scoop because she was afraid it would turn him into a nutjob with all the protein. Trying to make her understand that I WANT him to have it!

        The reason I'm not really wanting to mess with oil is that she doesn't wash the buckets after every feeding, which is fine when all the food is dry and she does it every couple days, but in the summer, with oily feed, I'm worried that it might be gross with the heat and flies, etc.

        I am pretty sure that the Wellness pellet feed has all the nutrients in the RB so I won't need to feed both, but the math is kindof overwhelming trying to figure out what the actual amount needed of each mineral/vitamin is. Everything is percentages and everything is fed in different amounts, etc. So my plan right now is to feed the pellet and possibly add their Ultra Bloom supplement, which is a stabilized rice bran, for the fat. Thoughts anyone?


          I don't know much about Seminole feeds as I have only dealt with Blue Seal and Triple Crown.

          However, a low starch pellet is not a bad idea. What is the fat, fiber and protein percent on this feed?

          Sorry if you've already stated but how much hay does this horse get?

          How would you rate this horse on the body condition scale?

          I would consider Flax or Rice Bran. Rice bran sounds good but I would like to know what the grain contains first. If you decide to take the horse of the RB and switch to the pellet just do that first then add the rice bran a short while afterward.

          If you suspect Ulcers then treat them. Just putting the horse on a lower NSC feed will not do a dang thing for ulcers.

          I also like the results I have gotten from alfalfa pellets.

          I also feel that my TB really bloomed after a Power Packing and following EqTrainer's worming protocol.


            I LOVE Seminole's Wellness line, especially the textured feeds. You really cannot go wrong with it. There is such a variety that you can find exactly what you want. For my needs, the Grow Right works well. It's 14% protein and 5% fat. I find myself feeding less of that than I used to feed of SafeChoice. It's actually cheaper to feed than the lesser brands.

            Adding a lysine supplement can also help, especially if you are feeding coastal hay.


              I would put him at about 4.5 on the body condition scale. He's 17.1h and really well sprung. Don't think we'll ever fully get rid of the ribs because of that. He's already got a lot more meat on him but it's mostly muscle with a little fat (which is good, I just want more!).

              He is on good grass pasture, no hay (now that the grass is back, free choice grass hay Round Bale in the winter), 4lbs of locally-milled 12% sweet feed and 1 lb Seminole RB daily.

              We've started a worming protocol similar to EqT's but haven't powerpacked yet - did a Quest plus in April and will PP in fall. He looks way better after the Quest. He'll get ivermectin 82 days from April 1

              Had him on the rice-bran supp for about 2 mos, saw a bit of a difference (coat was really pretty too!), but switched to the RB after reading about it here, hence the high protein/low fat question. Basically haven't seen weight gain, but his foot is growing out way faster (yay!) and he's built a little muscle - but we've also stepped up our work as the days have gotten longer. He's been on it for about a month now.

              I want to keep him on the RB. My next step is to figure out what else to add. As far as treating ulcers, I cannot afford the gastro/ulcerguard. I also don't get out to the barn enough to do ranitidine and I know the BO won't want to do that so often. I'm thinking of adding fenugreek because studies have shown that this cures ulcers in rats, so it may have results in horses.

              But I really am trying to figure out how to manage my BO more than anything else - whatever I ask her to do has to really KISS, so I need to be minimalistic and probably have a "reason" for what I do beyond "I saw all this really cool nutrition stuff on an internet chatboard and want to try it." She's pretty old-school in her horsecare.

              Has anyone tried the wellness line pelleted? I see a lot of whole grains in my guy's poop, and I know that pellets can often be more readily digested so I'm thinking of going pelleted for that too. I would love to put him on show&sport but the $ is prohibitive if the BO does not let me shave off $ from board since I'll be buying the feed.


                Check out Smartpak. They offer several inexpensive ulcer supplements that can help settle the stomach. There's even a chart on their website that goes over all the things the various supplements have in them & the cost per day.


                  If you saw results with Quest Plus you'd probably see even more with a Power Pack since the Power Pack hits all stages of Encysted Strongyles and I like the fact that it's a 5 day treatment. It's well worth the money IMO.

                  I also second an above poster by mentioning that SmartPak does have some cheaper ulcer supplements that will help out. U-guard by Corta-Flx isn't too bad price wise and I know others like Tract Guard or Pro CMC. You can also do something as simple as aloe juice. I found that a pre/pro-biotic supplement was a good choice for my guy. Some are more affordable than others. I know some of it gets expensive. Trust me, I am in no way made out of money being a college student and all But it's well worth it to have a happy and healthy horse. Perhaps other costs can be cut?

                  I do like the sound of the Seminole Wellness Low-Starch feeds. If I were to feed one it would be Show & Sport. Especially for an OTTB in work. I find that Thoroughbreds can use the high amount of calories. My guy is on a 12/12 feed and does quite well.

                  Just remember that this change will take a few months at least. You don't want them to gain weight too fast anyways.

                  You mentioned that the horse just eats grass and no hay. Is he out on grass 24/7? Does your ration balancer cater to the needs of a horse on a grass diet?

                  You could also mix in Alfalfa or Timothy pellets into the feed for more forage. Or even haystretcher pellets of some sort. More forage is not a bad thing.

                  I know you mentioned that your barn own is difficult. Just tell her it is your horse and you are changing his feed because it will be better for his over all health and weight.

                  If you want to make things easy just grab some freezer zip lock bags and but his daily grain mixture in there. Make AM and PM the same that way all she has to do is dump a bag in the bucket for his feed and your good to go. A few of my barn mates do this because some of them are on a mixture of sorts and it makes it easy for the feeders.


                    Yeah, honestly after the quest I can't wait to power pack him, but I am going to rotate through another ivermectin first. I think he'll see big differences after the power pack. He had one about 2 years ago when he came to this farm, but I haven't done it since because fecals @ farm were negative, etc. (Please don't let's get into whether or not fecals are accurate here - I know they don't show everything now! Thanks, COTH )

                    WIth the ulcers, I am going to start out with fenugreek - that's the one thing I HAVE decided. Since the studies showed healing in rats, I'm really interested in trying it. Plus there are so many ulcer supps out there, I can see myself going through them one every few months until the patent comes off gastroguard in 2012, never really finding one I like.

                    He's on grass 24/7, and the Equalizer isn't grass-specific, but I checked it against the (economy line) grass balancer from Seminole and it's pretty similar. The only other nutrition thing I am thinking about adding is the tri-amino, but I'm doing some internet searches as to how to determine the weight amount of actual nutrients that he needs - including those - to see if he's getting them (although I know there's a range).

                    I am also looking at the Show & Sport - it's my second choice. I'm going to see what the vet says this weekend about the need to take it low-starch and then decide.

                    basically the options with the BO are to ask if I can just add the ricebran supp to his feed as well as the RB (2 extra scoops a day for her to make), or if I can just come out and fix his food in a bunch of bags that she then just has to dump in.

                    The feed that I pick is going to depend some on if she says I can knock some board $ off by buying my own foodstuffs - show & sport is expensive! Am I wrong in feeling that it's reasonable to ask her to knock about $50 off the price of board if I'm supplying the feed? Especially if she doesn't have to scoop anything ever?


                      It certainly cannot hurt to ask about a reduction in board!

                      I have fed the pelleted Wellness feeds, and they are very nice. They are a bit more expensive that the comparable textured feeds though, and really the textured feeds are mostly a variety of pellets with just a touch of whole oats. I know there are some alfalfa pellets in there, and some milk pellets (this is the Grow Right). Not sure what each individual pellet is other than that.

                      Just a guess, but you could probably get away with 3lb of a comparable Wellness feed as a replacement for the sweet feed your BO is feeding. It really does seem to be that much better absorbed. Even the textured is better used than SafeChoice or Strategy for my guys.


                        Hmm.... that would be awesome, and if that is the case I could probably afford the feed even without the reduction in board. But looking @ the feeding guidelines on Seminole's site for Show&Sport, they say .25-1.5% of body weight in the feed daily. So for my guy, this would be 3.25lbs on the low end and 19.5lbs on the high end (thanks, Seminole, for really narrowing it down there). I'm looking to have him gain weight, so it seems like .5% would be a good place to start, considering he isn't on a lot of grain already. That would be 6.5lbs (4.33 scoops, according to their weight/volume guide) daily.

                        Do those of you that feed Show&Sport or any of the Wellness feeds find that it's more rich and you need less than the label indicates? I'm really interested to know.


                          You know, I feed barely the recommended amount to even my mare who historically needs a lot of feed. If you do the low end and add a ration balancer, you would be getting all the nutrition he needs. Or you could do alfalfa pellets with the RB.


                            That's awesome news. I know my horse will be glad that now I can afford to go gourmet! Will only cost me about $50/month to feed the Show&Sport at that rate. I think I am going to email the Seminole folks to clarify if I need to continue to use the Equalizer if I begin feeding a complete feed. I am thinking not technically, but that for the extra protein it might not be a bad idea. Also, I think if I go that route I'll definitely try the Tri-amino supplement, to make sure he can actually use all the protein that he's getting.


                              I have two different "routines" for mine. The air-fern Arabs get 1qt of the Grow Right AM & PM, and then they each get a dose of the Smart Pak easy keeper grass, 1T of Vita Flex lysine, and 1/2 cup Omega Horseshine. They are on bermuda hay.

                              Then my mare gets about 2.5qt AM & PM, plus the lysine, Smart Hoof, and a 5qt scoop of soaked alfalfa cubes (once a day only). She goes nuts without alfalfa in some form.

                              That is during the winter. During the summer, the Arabs get 2.5 cups of Equalizer, plus the lysine and Omega Horseshine. The mare gets her same stuff.

                              I would think that you could do some show and sport, then add part of the recommended amount of equalizer if he needs the protein. you might try the lysine first though. sometimes some extra lysine is all they need to help use the protein they are getting.