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Question about grain

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  • Question about grain

    Sorry to make another thread. I am trying to sort out my mare's diet. After doing some research into what is available in my area, and the fact that she should stay under 10% NSC for her PSSM...I think my best option is to switch her to a hay pellet. Alfalfa pellets are 9% NSC, the lowest available to me.

    However, my question is this....for many years I took lessons at a barn where many of the horses ate just hay pellets to supplement pasture and hay, and they all looked great and worked as lesson horses. Now, I am thinking about doing the same for my mare...but everything I read seems to imply that she MUST have some grain for the vitamins and minerals.

    She is already getting magnesium, some vitamin B, and vitamin E as part of her supplements. I just got her a mineral block that includes selenium. She is turned out on 24/7 pasture, which the barn keeps cut short as she shouldn't really have a ton of grass because of the sugar.

    Do I really need to add grain back in for the vitamins and minerals for this kind of set up?
    RH Queen O Anywhere "Sydney"
    2009 Sugarbush Draft mare
    Western Dressage
    Draft Mare blog

  • #2
    Nothing says you MUST feed grain for the vitamins and minerals.

    You do need to get her E and Se level tested, particularly since she's got PSSM. Don't assume a block is going to provide all she needs for Se.

    What grass is in the pasture? If it's fescue or other cool season grasses, the sugars are concentrated closer to the ground, so short is not necessarily better, depending on what "short" means.

    Horsetech's High Point Grass is a soy-free and iron-free v/m supplement.Uckele Sporthorse Grass is another with higher levels of nutrients.

    You may need to muzzle her on grass, as if she were IR, if things are not as good as they need to be, to further cut down on sugars.
    ______________________________
    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

    Comment


    • #3
      If you think the hay is lacking then just find a vitamin/ mineral supplement. If horse is eating hay why would you feed additional hay pellets?

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #4
        Originally posted by candyappy View Post
        If you think the hay is lacking then just find a vitamin/ mineral supplement. If horse is eating hay why would you feed additional hay pellets?
        Because she needs to get oil and supplements twice daily. Also, she has hay, but currently isn't touching it. She would much rather graze.
        RH Queen O Anywhere "Sydney"
        2009 Sugarbush Draft mare
        Western Dressage
        Draft Mare blog

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Draftmare View Post

          Because she needs to get oil and supplements twice daily. Also, she has hay, but currently isn't touching it. She would much rather graze.
          That makes sense then.

          Comment


          • #6
            Most grains with added vitamins and minerals need to be fed at specific volumes to deliver the level of nutrients that are promised. Oft times, the level of grain required to meet certain desired levels of vitamins or minerals is very high. I've refrained from relying on grain as a way to deliver guaranteed levels of vitamins and minerals. I've found it is much more productive to provide a well thought out vitamin and mineral supplement program and use grain to add "calories" as needed. FeedXL is a service you might want to consider. You can join for a single month for as little as $15. It will inform you as to where your feeding program may be deficient in certain vitamins and minerals and allow you to input theoretical changes in your mare's diet to hone in on the best option(s) for your circumstances.
            Last edited by OneTwoMany; Jun. 19, 2017, 04:34 PM.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by OneTwoMany View Post
              Most grains with added vitamins and minerals need to be fed at specific volumes to deliver the level of nutrients that are promised. Oft times, the level of grain required to meet certain desired levels of vitamins or minerals is very high. I've refrained from relying on grain as a way to deliver guaranteed levels of vitamins and minerals.
              Why is that? The minimal feeding recommendations, usually about .5lb/100lb (so by weight, not volume), are to all but guarantee all major gaps in the forage are filled in. That's how they are designed, based on their analysis. Meaning, some have a higher feeding rate than others.

              For sure, that's far too many calories for some horses, and there are other options. 1/2 that minimal amount (so let's say 3lb instead of 6) and 1/2 a serving of a ration balance (say, 1/2lb instead of 1). Or a Lite feed. Or a ration balancer + a couple pounds alfalfa pellets.

              I've found it is much more productive to provide a well thought out vitamin and mineral supplement program and use grain to add "calories" as needed.
              How is that easier? Just curious as to your thought process. Most v/m supps contain relatively little, and then you're adding nutrients on top of that with the fortified feed. It can be done, I'm sure. If you start with a ration balancer, which provides about the same nutrition as what's in the minimally recommended amounts, then you're good there at 1-2lb, and can add something like alfalfa pellets for additional calories if needed. That's much easier to manage than trying to figure out which v/m will compliment 1, 2, 3 or 4 or more pounds of a grain.
              ______________________________
              The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

              Comment


              • #8
                I would just add a vitamin/mineral supplement to the pellets. HorseTech can custom engineer you a blend
                ~Veronica
                "The Son Dee Times" "Sustained" "Somerset" "Franklin Square"
                http://photobucket.com/albums/y192/vxf111/

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by JB View Post
                  Why is that? The minimal feeding recommendations, usually about .5lb/100lb (so by weight, not volume), are to all but guarantee all major gaps in the forage are filled in. That's how they are designed, based on their analysis. Meaning, some have a higher feeding rate than others.

                  For sure, that's far too many calories for some horses, and there are other options. 1/2 that minimal amount (so let's say 3lb instead of 6) and 1/2 a serving of a ration balance (say, 1/2lb instead of 1). Or a Lite feed. Or a ration balancer + a couple pounds alfalfa pellets.

                  How is that easier? Just curious as to your thought process. Most v/m supps contain relatively little, and then you're adding nutrients on top of that with the fortified feed. It can be done, I'm sure. If you start with a ration balancer, which provides about the same nutrition as what's in the minimally recommended amounts, then you're good there at 1-2lb, and can add something like alfalfa pellets for additional calories if needed. That's much easier to manage than trying to figure out which v/m will compliment 1, 2, 3 or 4 or more pounds of a grain.
                  Good questions JB. We start out with good quality hay, fed free choice. We have it analyzed and that helps to inform us what vitamin/mineral supplement(s) might be needed to address any deficiencies. We only add grain when needed for extra calories and quite frankly, we simply don't find a need to feed up to the manufacturer's recommended levels of 0.5lbs per 100lb weight. In fact, most of our horses receive just a handful of grain at mealtime because they maintain a good hunter weight on free choice hay and grazing alone. We are a show/sales barn and ulcers are always a concern. Like others on this board we've found that keeping forage in front of a horse 24/7 (or as close to 24/7) is a plan that works well and is more desirable than feeding cereals. And you are right, haying horses every two hours or so throughout the day (when weather prevents grazing) and providing supplements to address any deficiencies isn't easier than feeding 6lbs of grain twice a day, but it works for us.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Thanks for the explanation. Is it not possible to feed more hay, less often?

                    You are absolutely right that assuming the horse needs the calories, all the forage he will eat is the place to start, hands down. Do you think you would be as well off, with even less $, by using a ration balancer?

                    It's nice to have hay good enough, and horses who are easy enough keepers, to not need to feed even 5lb of a regular feed
                    ______________________________
                    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by JB View Post
                      Thanks for the explanation. Is it not possible to feed more hay, less often?

                      You are absolutely right that assuming the horse needs the calories, all the forage he will eat is the place to start, hands down. Do you think you would be as well off, with even less $, by using a ration balancer?

                      It's nice to have hay good enough, and horses who are easy enough keepers, to not need to feed even 5lb of a regular feed
                      Yes. Absolutely it is possible to feed more hay less often. Most boarding facilities do. We choose to provide hay continually throughout the day, at least for the horses that live inside. It keeps them busy, and promotes good gut health.

                      After managing horses that were prone to colic and/or ulcers, we adopted a "forage first" approach. I'm being a little overly simplistic, but we generally give our horses as much hay as they will eat. Cereal grain is used when we have a "hard keeper" that needs a little help to put on weight.

                      I am not sure how to answer the money question. It probably costs us $150-$180 per month on average for hay per horse. Perhaps we could save a little if we fed a ration balancer. I never really looked at it that way. When it comes to nutrition, we've taken the "forage first" approach and then we've solved for the rest.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by OneTwoMany View Post

                        Yes. Absolutely it is possible to feed more hay less often. Most boarding facilities do. We choose to provide hay continually throughout the day, at least for the horses that live inside. It keeps them busy, and promotes good gut health.

                        After managing horses that were prone to colic and/or ulcers, we adopted a "forage first" approach. I'm being a little overly simplistic, but we generally give our horses as much hay as they will eat. Cereal grain is used when we have a "hard keeper" that needs a little help to put on weight.

                        I am not sure how to answer the money question. It probably costs us $150-$180 per month on average for hay per horse. Perhaps we could save a little if we fed a ration balancer. I never really looked at it that way. When it comes to nutrition, we've taken the "forage first" approach and then we've solved for the rest.
                        I think more hay--less often is theoretically the same amount of hay as less hay--more often. It would just be a matter of potentially saving time by feeding less often, again, same total amount. This doesn't work if the horses hoover the hay or make a huge mess of it, though.

                        On the topic of ration balancers, in my research, (though I'd defer to JB on this one) ration balancers are cheaper and easier to get the correct amount of vitamins/minerals into the horse. Vit/min supplements are often quite expensive and don't provide nearly as much nutrition as a ration balancer, unless you give multiple doses, which just makes them more expensive. Though, if your horses are really air ferns, I guess maybe even the calories in a ration balancer would be too much?

                        My horse gets 3 sizable hay feedings per day, plus 11 hours on grass, so certainly an adequate amount of forage. He could probably get more hay overnight in the summer, but we board, so I'm pretty pleased with his situation. (In the winter they feed 4 larger hay feedings and his grain gets cut back.) He also gets 3lbs of grain per day (1.5lbs 2x a day) plus 1lb TC30 ration balancer. Doing a vit/min supplement like Horsetech was way more expensive to get the same benefit. (He would be obese getting the 6 lb per day minimum of the concentrate, hence the RB.)

                        Your program sounds great, just suggesting a way to keep, IMHO, the same nutrition for less $$.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          May find this interesting:

                          http://www.thehorse.com/articles/281...ign=06-19-2017

                          We don't feed any concentrates other than a handful so we can add any medications, like thyroid powder.

                          When feeding hays, alfalfa tends to be one of the more complete feeds, is what we base our hay, rare would be to need supplementation when feeding alfalfa.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Completely agree with Bluey's article. Frequent smaller feedings of hay does take more time, but it is more in tune with what the horses' bodies were built to do, i.e. forage.

                            As for the cost of supplementing, it is $.44 a day for a middle of the road vitamin/mineral supplement. We have lousy soil in our area and although our grass, and the hay we purchase, may appear lush, I know it lacks some key nutrients, so we supplement.

                            There are a million different ways to manage a horse's program. When you find something that works, it would seem wise to stick with it.

                            I think OP's original question was asking if she needed to add grain back into her mare's diet to provide vitamins and minerals. I think the answer to that question is "no", it isn't necessary. If additional vitamins and minerals are needed there are other delivery methods beside grain.

                            Great thread. Always interested to hear other informed opinions.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by OneTwoMany View Post

                              Yes. Absolutely it is possible to feed more hay less often. Most boarding facilities do. We choose to provide hay continually throughout the day, at least for the horses that live inside. It keeps them busy, and promotes good gut health.
                              I didn't mean to imply feeding such that they spent hours without hay, which is common in a lot of boarding situations I meant - tossing hay every 2 hours is labor-intensive if you have even just a couple horses, let alone a full boarding situation. I was just thinking you could toss more hay, every 4-5-6 hours, still feed the same amount of hay, and reduce time. Just a thought. Certainly, some horses would hoover that up quickly and be without hay for some period of time, it's just a matter of how long. Horses generally don't eat for about 8 hours every 24, spread around the day. So 30-60 minutes at a time without anything to eat, several times a day, is still not out of their best-practice management.

                              ^^and really, that's just more for discussion, for those who might think that there are only 2 ways to feed - lots of hay a couple times a day, or little bits of hay many times. There are situations which make either one the best way but most of the time, some middle ground is great. I only feed hay twice a day, but I put out enough that they are either not out when the next batch comes, or they haven't been without for very long.

                              After managing horses that were prone to colic and/or ulcers, we adopted a "forage first" approach. I'm being a little overly simplistic, but we generally give our horses as much hay as they will eat. Cereal grain is used when we have a "hard keeper" that needs a little help to put on weight.
                              I absolutely 1000% agree, healthy horses are those whose needs are met with appropriate amounts of forage first. I don't like to feed cereal grains, with some exceptions. Standalone, the sugars aren't needed. They aren't nutritionally balanced. Handsful? Sure, no problem, oats can be horse crack and can help mix in meds. IMHO things like alfalfa pellets or ration balancers are better options for a variety of reasons, including lower sugars (usually 10% or lower NSC, compared to minimally 50% for cereal grains) and more nutrition (including lysine, which is not-infrequently an amino acid needing supplementation for harder working horses)

                              I am not sure how to answer the money question. It probably costs us $150-$180 per month on average for hay per horse. Perhaps we could save a little if we fed a ration balancer. I never really looked at it that way. When it comes to nutrition, we've taken the "forage first" approach and then we've solved for the rest.
                              You'd still be feeding that amount of hay, that's not any question I'm not sure how much your v/m supplement of choice costs. Many of them can be fairly $$, in the $.60-.70-.100 range, per serving. You get fairly small amounts of vitamins and minerals, and with a few exceptions barely any lysine, maybe 1-2mg.

                              Ration balancers can be cheaper than that, $.50/serving (at 1lb), sometimes $.60, and a few are more (or a given location might be more if you have a store who's really gouging you), but loads more nutrition, especially in the areas more commonly lacking - lysine, copper, zinc, vitamin E.

                              Vitamin E is something that is really an issue for horses on all/mostly hay diets, since there's little to none in hay.

                              **I see now your v/m is $.44 for an ok supplement. It might be a good exercise to take a look at exactly what it provides. There's really relatively little in one of those, which is fed at about 1oz/day, that unless your forage tests to be really great.

                              Anyway - sorry for the rambling. My comments are not meant to say you're doing it wrong, or you should change to make things better, just thoughts coming out of my head around the whole discussion of feeding, balancing, etc
                              ______________________________
                              The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Why not use small hole hay nets rather than tossing hay in 2-4 times a day??? I feed both fatties and skinny ottbs, and this works for both. The fatties get big 1 inch nets, and I refill them every other day because it takes them 2 days to empty it. The ottbs have big larger hole nets that get refilled once a day.
                                "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."

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I've kept many horses in good weight and health for years with feeding zero grain. None of my horses were in enough work (even when I had a couple eventers) that they needed anything more than hay pellets / alfalfa pellets / beet pulp / rice bran (what mixture or balance depended on the horse, of course). When I had a PSSM horse I did not feed him any grain but did feed him a lot of Vitamin E. I don't think grain is really necessary for any but the hardest working of horses and I think it is a need created by a product manufacturer to sell product. But that's just my opinion and I'm sure some will disagree.

                                  Horse Tech will make you a custom supplement to balance your hay if you have your hay tested. I feed their High Point Grass and my horses do very well on it. I've used FeedXL to input my hay analysis and then added whatever supplements I either had or was considering and have come up with a balanced diet that way.

                                  My horses wouldn't do well on 24/7 grass as they are easy keepers and of breeds that are prone to metabolic issues. I do give them a bit of grazing in the morning, then they are on dry lots with hay nets for the remainder of the time.
                                  My Mustang Adventures - Mac, my mustang | Annwylid D'Lite - my Cob filly

                                  "A horse's face always conveys clearly whether it is loved by its owner or simply used." - Anja Beran

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Grain (commercial feed, concentrates) is necessary for any horse, of any classification, whose caloric and/or nutritional needs can't be met with forage alone. 3 of my horses need at least a ration balancer in the Winter, even though not in work, and depending on the Winter, my oldest (27) needs 5lb of TC Sr. I can imagine my TB mare would need a bit more than that if she were in even moderate work. My old TB Gelding needed 4-5lb of feed on top of free choice pasture even not in work.

                                    If you're feeding a mix of "hay pellets / alfalfa pellets / beet pulp / rice bran " then you're feeding extra calories. Most prefer, or have the need, to use a commercially fortified product for the nutrients as well as the calories.

                                    They are products that evolved out of a need - calories, nutrients - and out of realizing that many horses needed calories, but did not need all the sugars that come with cereal grains. So even though in the "old days" horses were often fed just hay/grass, and oats (sometimes lots of oats), they were almost always also working fairly hard, 5-7 days a week, and needed, or at least could get by with, those sugars.

                                    Nowadays, not so much.

                                    For sure, many of these feeds are still terrible things to feed, 30%NSC and higher and many are marketed to uninformed owners who think they are BAD PEOPLE for not feeding 5lb of grain twice a day.
                                    ______________________________
                                    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

                                    Comment

                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      She is in regular work, I ride her 4-5 times a week for anything from 20 minutes to an hour. We school over fences once a week, but otherwise do dressage work. She has always been an easy keeper, and wasn't consistently getting grain until I came into the picture. She is currently getting 8000 IU per day of Vitamin E.
                                      RH Queen O Anywhere "Sydney"
                                      2009 Sugarbush Draft mare
                                      Western Dressage
                                      Draft Mare blog

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Draftmare View Post
                                        Sorry to make another thread. I am trying to sort out my mare's diet. After doing some research into what is available in my area, and the fact that she should stay under 10% NSC for her PSSM...I think my best option is to switch her to a hay pellet. Alfalfa pellets are 9% NSC, the lowest available to me.

                                        However, my question is this....for many years I took lessons at a barn where many of the horses ate just hay pellets to supplement pasture and hay, and they all looked great and worked as lesson horses. Now, I am thinking about doing the same for my mare...but everything I read seems to imply that she MUST have some grain for the vitamins and minerals.

                                        She is already getting magnesium, some vitamin B, and vitamin E as part of her supplements. I just got her a mineral block that includes selenium. She is turned out on 24/7 pasture, which the barn keeps cut short as she shouldn't really have a ton of grass because of the sugar.

                                        Do I really need to add grain back in for the vitamins and minerals for this kind of set up?
                                        Alfalfa is not balance for calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and several other minerals.

                                        Are the pellets are fortified?

                                        What percentage of your horse's diet is alfalfa based, and what percentage is grass based?

                                        What type of hay are you feeding? Grass? Alfalfa?

                                        How much grass, and what type, does your horse eat?

                                        There are many Alfalfa diet balancers on the market. Or one can be custom mixed for your horse's special diet.

                                        Here is an example of an alfalfa diet/ration balancer.....

                                        https://haybalancer.com/pages/shop

                                        https://haybalancer.com/products/hay-balancer-a

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