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Re: feed

> patti
> I've always feed my mare 10# twice a day of 50/50 pellets and a small
>amount of bermuda hay once a day and she ate just fine and had good size
>and plenty of energy. My feed store got orchard grass with timothy in it,
so I >feed her the pellets and the grass. Now she wont eat her pellets, she
loves the >hay. My question is, will that give her the energy she needs and
how much >will I need to feed her a day?

You didn't mention what the composition of the 50/50 pellets were, but I'm
going to assume you're talking 50% alfalfa and 50% grass of some sort.  Yes,
the orchard/timothy is close in energy content, depending on the percentage
of timothy versus orchard.  In any event, the caloric differences per pound
will be negligible.  In addition, you've reduced the protein content by a
significant amount, which for an endurance horse is a good thing.  And
finally, although many horses can and do live their entire lives on a
pelleted ration, it's preferable for at least half of the daily forage
ration to be in the form of long-stem (ie, baled) hay for the additional
bulk it provides and benefits towards maintaining gut motility.

As far as "how much", I wouldn't get too tied into exact poundage.  As a
general rule of thumb, horses should get a *bare minimum* of 1% of their
body weight daily in the form of forage, and ideally between 2-3%.  So a
1000-lb horse should get roughly 20-30 pounds of hay a day.  A better way to
feed, however, is to provide enough hay so that she has some in front of her
all the time---not so much that she starts using it as a bed and wasting
tons of it, but enough that she always has some available.  A much more
natural way of feeding and one with numerous benefits, both physically,
nutritionally and psychologically.

>Also I have a question about grain. Who has the best grain product for
>endurance horses? I heard corn is not good because it makes them sweat
>more than they would without it, does it need beet pulp, probiotics,someone
>help me please.  patti

First off, it's untrue that corn will make a horse sweat more.  There are a
few reasons why it wouldnt be ideal to feed large amounts of just corn, but
that's not one of them.  There are two routes you can go with feeding grain,
keeping in mind that there is no "best" ration---every horse is an
individual and every management situation is different.  One way you can go
is to feed a "complete" grain ration, such as Purina Complete Advantage,
Omolene 200, LMF Ener-G, Ace-Hi Working Western Horse and so on.  Any feed
store will have different ones available, the only limitation is that you
should pick one with less than 16-18% crude fiber.  More than that and
you're basically paying for a bag of hay, which you're already supplying

The commercial complete feeds are a little more expensive, but if you're
feeding more than about five pounds a day, you don't need to add any
additional vitamins or minerals, other than supplying free-choice, loose,
plain white salt.  I like the commercial mixes because they're already
balanced and I don't have to mess with mixing up anything else, I can just
measure out the amount and that's that.  How important that is to you is of
course up to you and whether you feed her yourself, or leave instructions at
a barn for someone else.

The other route you can go is feeding a basic COB mixture, which counts as
"commodity" feed---that is, just a straight mix of plain grain, without
additional supplements added.  The traditional mix for COB( which just
stands for corn-oats-barley) is 25% corn, 45% oats, 30% barley.  You can
often buy it already mixed in the proper ratios, or can buy the separate
grains and mix them yourself.  If you do that, don't bother getting crimped,
rolled, cracked or otherwise processed grains---horses with good teeth will
have no trouble at all digesting whole grains and the very minimal (less
than 5%) increase in digestibility obtained by processing is outweighed by
the decrease in shelf life.  You can get "recleaned" grains, but don't let
the feed store salesman tell you otherwise about processing, I have yet to
meet a feed salesman that is a source for decent nutrition knowledge (though
I'm sure there are exceptions, I just haven't met one).

If you buy the commodity feeds, then it would be a good idea to add ONE dose
of ONE good-quality vitamin-mineral supplement.  There are plenty out there,
I happen to like Grand Vite, but there are lots of others available.  Make
sure it is a general purpose supplement, not one marketed just to make the
coat shiny, or for increasing fertility in mares, or calming nervous horses
or any of that nonsense.  Just a general vitamin-mineral mix and that's it.
Adding more will not improve the health and generally creates more problems
than it solves.  If you are feeding one of the commercial, complete mixes,
then you don't need to add additional vitamin supplements at all.

The only exceptions to this are that I happen to like adding a tad more
vitamin A (or rather, beta-carotene) for horses that are working hard, and
the easiest way to do that is just hand out a few pounds of carrots a day.
Might as well make a friend while you're doling out the vitamins. :-)  And
if your horse could use a little tougher foot, then adding 20-25 mg of
biotin to the diet isn't a bad idea, either.  In that case, I prefer Paragon
Biotin Plus, only because it has the most biotin per ounce for the money and
doesn't have alot of other fillers and fluff.  If you try that, a half dose
is plenty, any more will just be excreted in the pee and wasted.

And of course, don't forget to provide free-choice salt.  Doesn't have to be
fancy, just plain old salt.  You can provide the specific
endurance-formulation electrolytes at rides, but you don't need them at
home---your normal ration will provide all the other electrolytes needed
other than sodium and chloride.

And, pay attention to the water quality.  If the tank is scummy and green
and yucky, horses will drink less and good water quality and a clean source
will go a long ways towards making sure the horse is drinking plenty.

Regardless of the type of grain you're feeding, a very good rule of thumb is
no more than about four pounds of grain per meal (that's usually about a
large coffee can), and my preference is no more than a total of maybe 8-10
pounds of grain per day for a working horse.  If your horse needs more grain
than that to maintain weight, then post back to RC again and we can talk
about adding some fat and/or beet pulp to the ration to increase the caloric

Good luck and have fun. :-)

Susan G

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