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Horse feed

Victoria, TX(Zone 9b)

Question & Answer time! Not looking to change feed, I don't think ... but I've heard a variety of things lately, and I'm curious what real-people do....

--Horses you keep? Gender, age, breed?
--Purpose? Breeding? Riding? Trail ride? Competitive Western? Competitive English? Hunter/Jumper? Dressage? Lawn Ornament?
--Feed you choose? Quantity? Frequency?

I'll start ...
Chubacca, 6YO TB gelding, 1150lb (needs to gain about 60# more, a little more bone showing than should)
Purpose - English competition, with full intention hunter/jumper
Feed - Purina Strategy, 3lb twice a day, one flake of hay at each feeding; free pasture with coastal & other TX-native grasses

Monroe, NC(Zone 7b)

Cocoa - 13 year old QH mare, pleasure/trial, nice muscular healthy girl, 1100 lb - calm and easy
Zip - 6 year old Appie gelding, pleasure/trial, very muscular and bulky, 950 lb - a little energy ball
Cashew - 17 year old TB mare, pleasure/ trail, tall slim super model, 1000 lb - calm and easy

Nutrina XTN 2 lb in evening, unlimited orchard/fescue hay, and unlimited grass pasture

Social Circle, GA(Zone 8a)

Lacy, 20 YO TB-QH Paint mare, 1250lb. needs to loose just a tad & just foaled. On Nutrena Safe Choice pellets, 3lbs 2xs per day. Just started mixing a little XTN in there for her coat. 2 large flakes of 90% alfalfa, 10% orchard grass 2x's per day. Daytime turnout in paddock (bermuda and rye). About to start getting worked again for Hunter-no jumping!

Serenity, 8 YO Arabian, 850lb, maybe 900lbs needs to get back in shape. On 1/2 Nutrena Safe Choice and 1/2 XTN, 2.5 lbs 2xs per day. 2 flakes of 90% alfalfa, 10% orchard grass 2x's per day, mostly lunging, ground-work and 2 very light rides thus far~Daytime turnout in pasture (bermuda, bahaia, crab and rye)

Khaos, 10 week 1/2 arab, 425lbs 1lb Purina's Equine Jr 2xs per day and whatever alfalfa/orchard mix mom will not get before him! Pigger, just got high enough feeders to keep him out of mom's food. Daytime pasture.

Cyn - 1 week tomorrow - 1/2 arab - on mom's milk!

I had both the mares on Strategy last year when they were in training and I really liked it! I swtiched to XTN about 6 months ago to try as I have friend's swearing by it - I just think the protein in both is a little high so I add lower protein pellet - but Chewie is in much more rigorous training than my 2 who are just getting started after having months off.

Monrovia, MD

Bellah- 9 YO Oldenburg, Mare- dressage competition, healthy girl- 1350 lb- easy- somewhat of a energy ball-( no sweet feed is not doing it, there is no molasses in her sweet feed, corn oils, she is just that way.)

Feed:Farmer's Market- Special blend of Sweet feed- (oils not molasses added in the winter) 1-1/2 lb plus supplements- 2x
8 hours of pasture grass
3-4 flakes of timothy hay- PM

Baker City, OR(Zone 5b)

I do everything differently. My retired horses get grass hay in the winter, pasture grass in the summer. No grain except treats. The working horses get a little grain with Horse Guard vitamins, but not every day. I feed them grass hay and they do not have much access to fresh grass. They maintain their weight on this program, one is actually a little heavier than I would like him to be, the other has problems with tie-up when he is on fresh grass or gets much grain so I feed all the working horses the same.

Mostly the work my horses do is endurance, 50 miles at a time, and often several days in a row. They do very well on this feed program so I just don't spend the money for extra stuff. They have nice shiny coats, good hooves, and lots of energy. Now and then they get a bit of alfalfa in their hay but it is a very small amount coming from fields that are mostly grass mixtures.

I know this is not what the feed companies would like you to hear.

Monrovia, MD

MaryE-Yes, I think the feed companies would not like to hear that horses can manage without grain of some kind....but, I think horses are like raising kids- "what works for one, might not work for the other".....

Baker City, OR(Zone 5b)

Yes, Pam, I agree. The quality of locally obtainable hay varies widely and some of it is just so poor that a lot of supplementation is necessary. I'm blessed to have a supply of good hay. I neglected to say that the only grain I feed my horses is whole oats. My local feed store is always trying to sell me the latest super feed, but I don't buy it. Mostly they are high sugar (molasses) stuff and they recommend feeding at a very high rate so a person would have to buy a new bag of it every week. That's great for them but it would be a disaster for endurance horses in my not so humble opinion. I simply buy a supplement which is fed at the rate of one or two ounces daily along with a cupfull or two of whole oats to make the horse think he is getting something.

Social Circle, GA(Zone 8a)

LOL! I love the not so humble comment! Mine will be off everything soon when the grass comes in better. I will continue to give em a little cup of the XTN unless they start to loose too much weight, then they'll get more. Well see how my pasture holds up with 4 instead of 2 this year. I am hoping I don't have to cut it every week like I did last summer. What supplement do you buy Mary? I like the XTN because it's lower carb than most sweet feed, mostly pelleted, has flax and some good supplements that I don't have to buy seperately--and doesn't have as much molasses. Though I do think molasses is good for some things, mine are definitely not in need of it. Lowering Serenity's carbs has made her less hot. I put them on Omolene 200 for a while when I first brought them home from the training barn, and even my paint mare began to get hot and jumpy (I was not working them enough for all those carbs). And that was when the pasture was nice so they were only getting a cup of it.

Baker City, OR(Zone 5b)

I'm not familiar with your XTN so maybe it is from a regional company. Horse Guard is what I got last time, I alternate with another one called Equerries Plus, both made in Oregon and formulated for our low selenium area. I have used Strategy by Purina, it is pelleted but doesn't have enough molasses to make it sticky. However, it takes a couple of coffee cans of it a day, and with the horses I am feeding now that is way too many carbs. So I get a supplement instead of a feed, and only have to feed a couple of ounces a day. The feed companies have done a good job making horse owners think that even a horse standing around in a pasture needs all kinds of things that they want to sell us.

A natural diet for horses would be only grass, some tender tree branch ends, and no grain except what they would get by picking the tops off of grass that had gone to seed. When I first started doing endurance I asked a few people what their horses were eating, and had my horses on some feed that some company had formulated for endurance, but it made my horses nuts, so I cut it way back but then according to the label on the bag they were not getting enough vitamins. I asked more questions, got a locally formulated supplement and they have done well on it. I feed a little bit of whole oats with it just to get the supplement into the horse and give him a little treat. Sometimes they won't eat the supplement alone and the grain helps there, but the hulls also add more roughage to his diet. I think a lot of behavior problems are linked to hot feeds. Too much protein also can cause problems. A grass diet is much more natural than alfalfa hay and all that sugary stuff.

Social Circle, GA(Zone 8a)

I did have them on coastal bermuda, but they colicked on it and they needed the extra calcium and phosphorus from the alfalfa during pregnancy. I had them on Timothy right before I had to switch to the alfalfa during the last trimester, and I liked it. Next winter they'll probably go back on the Timothy.

XTN is a Nutrena feed. The high protein content is why I add a low protein pellet (Purina Horseman's Edge 10%) but it just occured to me you said that Strategy had a lot of carbs....I assumed because it was already broken down (no whole grains) that it had much less carbs......I wonder if my 10% pellet has a lot of carbs....

This message was edited Mar 31, 2006 10:11 AM

This message was edited Mar 31, 2006 10:12 AM

Baker City, OR(Zone 5b)

I think that any grain has a lot of carbs, and if it is finely ground and pelleted it is compacted so is heavier than something like whole oats (measured with the same scoop). Packed volume is heavier. I'm not sure you could tell about the carbs from reading the label without having a college degree in animal nutrition. What they do tell you is how much protein, how much ash, and whatever else is added. Mixing mixtures gets tricky and probably results in way too much of some things, and wasted money. The phosphorus/calcium ratio is tricky for pregnant mares and growing babies. Get that seriously unbalanced and you can get a foal with crooked legs that never straighten out. Our last mares and foals were just turned out in a large pasture and recieved no supplements at all, but there was a good variety of grasses and weeds. Even after weaning we gave no supplements. The foals grew slower but it was all natural.

Victoria, TX(Zone 9b)

My geographical location limits the "perfect grass" access. It's been so dry here, coastal bermuda hay (or any other hay for that matter) is dern-near impossible to find. Alfalfa is too expensive, and makes my horse hot, hot, hot! I'm not using grain because the stores told me to. I'm using it because my horse works hard everyday, and grass alone won't keep him at-weight. I'd have to spend a fortune to perfectly fertilize the grasses, and it'd come out even at what I'd be spending on grain, if not more expensive to fertilize. Chewie certainly doesn't "stand around at pasture" that much. In the summer, when it's hot & humid, the poor guy works up a sweat just standing .... as soon as "work" starts, he's a mess within 20 minutes. Doesn't decrease my work-time, either. I'll stay on him & after him for over an hour daily before the cool-down walk begins. We also travel, almost every weekend, so I don't always know what hay or grass he'll get, if any... during show-season, he's in a stall as much as a couple days, so grass ain't growing there! :)

I think some feeding choices depend on horse breed. Mary, you never mentioned what breed(s) you keep.

Social Circle, GA(Zone 8a)

This reminds me of my dad watching me pick my horse's hooves one day commenting on how he wondered how they "made it on their own". Well dad, they weren't confined to stalls or pastures. They don't tromp across the wilderness 24 hours a day to harden their hooves and they were bred domestically, not naturally selected.....

So I think that we've changed what horses need and of course they will all vary! Imagine what the folks who have no pasture would do without the feed! Hard keepers and old timers with no teeth certainly need feed. I turned down an adopter once for not having sufficient space fenced for the horse to run. A rescue in Boston commented on how nice that it must be to have people with land to choose from as thier "city" horses never had access to a pasture or even a grassy paddock! and most of their excercise was in the roundpen or undersaddle! So everyone/horse/situation is different and there is nothing wrong with giving your horse feed! IMHO

I have multiple people telling me that the high amount of protein in foal feeds causes OCD. Interestingly, I cannot find a foal feed with a protein level below 14.5% and that's the lowest I can find! And my monsterous 11 week old is huge. As a half arab, he should be between the size of a TB and an arab for his age. Instead he's in the draft range! They're all different! When people say it's not natural I sometimes think, well, they weren't exactly "naturally" bred either....

But to each his own!

This message was edited Mar 31, 2006 2:37 PM

Monrovia, MD

Jenks- I couldn't agree with you more!

Baker City, OR(Zone 5b)

I see that it is necessary in some situations where there is no pasture available and at the same time no good hay available. In that case I would have to be doing something else too. I did have two old mares with bad teeth whose diet for the last year of their lives included a lot of Strategy (Purina) mixed with warm water. They did pretty well on it for a few months but then age and other factors (one also had cancer in her mouth and intestines) became too much and it just came to the point where they needed to be put down.

Jenks, what kind of showing do you do?

My working horses are 2 half Arabian geldings, one sired by a Quarter Horse, he is 15, and the other a 9 yr old sired by a registered Paint (mostly Quarter Horse), and a registered Arabian mare who is also 9. The retired horses are an Anglo Arab in his middle 20's, and a Saddlebred age 15.

Social Circle, GA(Zone 8a)

I don't do any at the moment! But I ride western on the trails and work horses for the training facility mostly hunters when they need or will let me! I've been wanting to try the English horses! Working up to them. My daughter Daylin is about to start showing my friend's old arab, Jorge, hunt seat. He was gelded about 4 years ago and has been there, done that (at 24). Depending how the babies turn out.....I'm thinking that I'll do some amateur in hand foal classes and eventually see what my 2 1/2 arabs can do. Both are half paint but mostly TB paints. The arab sire is a line bred Fadjur line for Cyn and he shows it. Khaos has fewer arab features, but he has a short head which I love. Funny how extremely different they turned out! I'm working on Serenity, not sure if I'll be able to do anything with her anytime soon.........but I sure would like to.

Baker City, OR(Zone 5b)

Genetics can get very interesting. Your 1/2 Arabs should be versitile enough to do just about anything you want with them. I've seen a lot of Arab crosses with just about everything while out there on the endurance circuit.

Social Circle, GA(Zone 8a)

Cyn's dad is supposedly doing super in dressage right now. Not sure if that's up my alley....but I want to go see him do it. Cyn seems to have his mother's witchey personality but with people as well as horses. I kicked him back last night. Brat thinks he owns the place. I'm going to start a new thread so we don't take over the feed issue! Sorry AngelSong!

Taylors, SC

I have 3 horses, (and one on the way!) A Westfalen mare, a Welsh pony gelding and a 25 y.o.Saddlebred gelding. I have great pasture, so they receive nothing other than that except some hay when stalled. The 25 y.o is just now starting to look too thin to me (having overweight horses had always been my problem --so this is new to me.) I just recently added Triple Crown low starch feed since I have to be careful due to his having a bout w/ founder7 years ago. Oh, and they all get a bit of soaked beet pulp at night along w/ Strongid C.

Gulfport, MS(Zone 8a)

Its interesting to see the differences in feeding patterns.

Fancy is a 3yo bs paint, about 15.2 and weighs about 1100 +/-. We have her on 10% sweet 2x a day. Not sure what the actual poundage is but she gets 1 scoop in the am and 1 1/2 scoops of feed and a handful of bran in the pm. Anything higher than 10% and she gets way to hot and goes whack on us.

Katy is an almost 5 week old orphan foal that gets 24% protein milk replacer a day. She also has Blue Seal demand foal feed, but she's not too much in to eating it yet.

Pasture grass is non-existant now so they both get free range hay. I havent had it analyzed so i dont have any idea of its content.

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