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Re: For Susan G - supplement question

> While on the topic of supplements/electrolytes/salts...
> I've heard several people mention supplements w/ their rations--not
> necessarily here on RC, but 'around'.  Now, in a balanced diet don't
> get what they need w/out supplimentation?  Are they just supplimenting the
> horses who are working and need it, or is this a preventative thing?  Now,
> electrolytes I explaination needed :).  We feed trace mineral
> blocks out in the pasture free choice..

Well, you mentioned 'balanced' and that, by defnition means that it includes
every nutrient the horse needs in the right amount and ratios.  However, I
assume what you meant was does an average diet supply that, or do you need
to add more?

It used to be that just good grass hay, fresh water and some salt was all
any horses needed.  Mostly, that's still true.  However, the hay we're
getting these days isn't always the same as it was thirty years ago, just
because quality can vary widely, as does the soil it's grown in.  Good
quality, free-choice grass hay still provides the vast majority of the
nutrients for a normal, adult horse either at maintenance or in
performance---even intense performance such as endurance horses.  It has all
the protein, most of the minerals (usually, with a few exceptions), the
majority of the vitamins.  What such a diet is generally deficient in is
just going to be calories/energy.  That you can add by either adding in a
more concentrated source of calories, as we were talking about in an earlier
post---soaked beet pulp and some vegetable oil is a good choice.

So for 90% of the horses out there, and for 90% of the hays available, just
free-choice good-quality grass hay, some soaked beet pulp and oil, fresh
water and plain iodized white salt will provide 99% of the nutrients needed
for endurance.  It *is* deficient in a few of the fat-soluble vitamins, such
as A & E, both of which would be met if the horse has access to any fresh
grazing.  If not, than adding one dose of ONE good all-purpose vit-min mix
will take care of that.  Plus, if your hay happens to fall into a slightly
deficient category, than a small dose of extra vit-min takes care of that,
too.  There are some areas where selenium is deficient, and if that's the
case, then the selenium needs to be specifically supplemented.  And, if you
have foot problems, then adding 20 mg of extra biotin per day is often

However, where 99% of the mineral-vitamin imbalances come from is when
owners with the right intentions start adding in a dab of this powder, and a
handful of that supplement, and a scoop of something else---not realizing
that all these nutrients have interactions with each other, and too much is
often as bad or worse as not enough.  There are TONS of supplements out
there that promise different things---shiny coat, better performance,
increased fertility, whatever---but they're all just different formulas of
the same basic ingredients.  If you just feed plenty of good hay, etc as
described above, plus just one good-quality vit-min mix to fill in any
potential "holes", plus groom and ride the snot out of them (dontcha love
these technical terms), then you'll have all the health you can handle
without having to buy a ton of extra buckets.

> Now, I also feed a complete feed (and a ton of it as you all well know :).
> Based on the info gained on this thread, I might be researching an
> alternative to that.  If that is the case, should I be concerned about
> supplimenting w/ things such as straight oats or beet pulp?

See above.  If you (or anyone else) is feeding a complete feed like Complete
Advantage, Omolene, LMF Ener-G....*any* of the commercial "mixes" as opposed
to straight commodities such as "oats" or "corn", and if you are feeding
more than a few pounds of that complete mix, then you don't need to
supplement with an additional vit-min mix, it's already in there in the
right amounts and ratios (you do still need to provide salt).  If you're
feeding commodities, then adding a vit-min mix is a good idea.

And when you work out the economics of feeding a complete mix versus
commodities, be sure to include the costs of the additional vit-min mix.  It
often works out that the cost isn't all that different.

Good luck. :-)

Susan G

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