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Equine Health Management - Feed & Nutrition

Expert Karl Hermanns

Questions (For answers, scroll down or click on question)

I have a 13 year old quarterhorse gelding who is severely overweight and showing signs of foundering in his front two feet. I was wondering if you have any suggestions on how I can effectively get his weight down and keep it down?

What kind of grain can I feed my 11 year old Arab mare that will not make her hyper (she is too thin)? She is currently fed 6 flakes of grass hay and 1 pound of sweet feed with a vitamin/weight gain supplement twice per day, but she is too "wired".

I have a 21 year old mare that just foaled her first baby. The colt died at 4 days as he was dysmature. I am thinking of breeding this mare again, but want to make sure I feed her properly. She gets laminitis easily so has no access to pasture of any kind. My vet recommended using one of the commercially available broodmare diets, like Equus 2 (developed by Dr. Steve Jackson of Blue Grass Equine Nutrition). I already started her on Equus 5 (senior feed). My question is: These diets are designed to be fed along with "free choice quality forage."  Would you recommend oat hay over alfalfa with the prepared diet? Is there a commercially-prepared forage substitute that would work well (hay cubes, etc.)? Do you have a broodmare nutrition table that I could follow which would help me balance the ration if I have my hay tested?

My paint has fungus problems which causes him to lose his hair. Does this point to a problem in nutrition?

Is it harmful to have African geese around horses, their stable, or their food?

I have been told that if I am feeding decent hay and giving a feed such as a junior or a senior type formula, I should not supplement for doing so can take the diet out of balance. Is this correct thinking?

When can I expect my young (2 1/2 year) warm blood cross to stop growing?

I have been feeding free choice barley-straw with limited amounts of alfalfa hay each day. My horses range from two years old to twenty years old. What is your opinion about feeding straw to horses?

What are feeding guidelines for a horse diagnosed with partial malabsorption?

What would be the proper diet for a 750 lb. yearling colt and 500 lb. weanling colt?

I would like to plant my upper pasture in an annual ryegrass to give the horses more to eat. Is there anything wrong with them eating ryegrass?

My horse is eating wood from the 2x4's on her shelter. Is there something I can put on it so she will stop or is she missing something from her diet that I need to add?

Horse in stable with run is eating its own apple droppings, and most all of it.

I have a 29-year-old Pinto mare. She has been on pasture. In the winter, she gets bagged chopped forage. She now eats 6 pounds of extruded complete pellets a day (3 feedings a day). I am not currently adding supplements. What do you suggest? I am considering cubed hay products. Should I stay away from alfalfa (high protein). Her blood work was normal last year.

My 11 year old thoroughbred gelding suffers severe swelling of the glands behind his cheeks after grazing in the field. An experienced owner suggested that this is a grass allergy to which TB's are prone. The swelling subsides in 2-3 hours. Do some TB's have a grass allergy?

How long do the mare and foal need to be separated during weaning, before I can pasture them back together?

I have a 10 year old QH who is ridden lightly, 1-2 times per week. He is turned out 12 hours a day and put up at night. He is fed half of a big metal coffee can full of crimped oats and one flake of alfalfa at night. I do give him one flake orchard grass in the morning during the winter. Is this feed sufficient or too much? I have been told I shouldn't feed him the alfalfa, but he seems to be doing fine, although he is a bit fat from under work. What do you suggest?

We have 5 horses, ages are (G)25, (G)19, (M)10, (M)9, (G)4. We feed the older 2-3 flakes of alfalfa hay twice a day. The others get two flakes twice a day each. In addition to this, they all get 1/2 - 3/4 gallon of oats, 1 1/2 cups of Sweet Feed, 1/3 cup dry bran, 2 tbsp vitamins A, D, E crumbles and two of them get additional herbs called Serenity and Breathe. With this in the winter, we mix in 1/2 cup of corn oil. I have been told by our trainer that my 4 year old may have a selenium deficiency. Could you tell me how I would check for this?

What information can you give on the prevention of Coprophagy in my gelding? What vitamin or mineral is he missing?

Is it possible to have too much iron or other minerals in well water for horses? What is the maximum nontoxic level for iron?

My 6 year old gelding has been chewing wood and bark off of the trees in his pasture. Does he need supplements?

I have a friend who gives her horse apple cider vinegar. Can you tell me what this would be good for?

Oat supplementation: I have a 650 lb. yearling and a 850 lb. two year old warmbloods I feed identically. They get 4 lbs. premium quality oats, 10 oz. Purina Equimin, about 2 oz. Biofos (calcium/phosphorus 21) as well as about 15-20 lbs. Timothy hay or 10-12 hours grazing per day. Is this adequate?

I was wondering what I should feed my 8 year old quarterhorse that will be in foal next. She foundered about four years ago. I was feeding her three laps of hay morning and night, four cups of grain morning and night. Also, she grazes on a small amount of grass. She is an easy keeper and gains weight quickly. Will I still be able to ride her while she is in foal? I was riding her very lightly at the walk and trot. 

Is a diet of straight alfalpha and Strategy AX adequate? The alfalpha is of excellent quality. Should I be concerned about providing enough fiber?

What, if any, type of feed is best suited for a first time mare, age 5, due to foal in 4-6 weeks? She is eating alfalpha hay now.

Is there prevention for impaction?

Are there any alternatives to the feeding of hay? Are cereals low in starch?

Can you tell me where to get Respond horse feed for a horse with allergies?

What is Perna Mussel?

What are the best supplements to feed a broodmare?

We have a couple of Thoroughbred mares who are moody about eating their 12% sweet feed. We have tried antacids recommended by our vet. Some days they do not eat grain at all. They always eat hay and their medical upkeep is great. Any ideas?

What is a good winter diet for my horse? She is a 9 year old quarter horse, 14.3 H, used for barrel racing and western games once a week at moderate speeds. Right now her diet consists of 1 flake alfalfa and 1 flake orchard/timothy grass hay in the morning and 1 flake alfalfa and 2 flakes orchard timothy grass at night. She gets turned out on the weekends for about 2 hours on 1/2 acre pasture. Should her diet be different on weekends from weekdays? Should she be getting any grain?

At what ratio should oats be used to replace 12-14% sweet feed? Horse feed is from a mill.

I have a 2 1/2 year old appendix QH/paint stock gelding who I would like to barrel race when older. What % of feed should I give him? He is currently eating 2 pounds of 14% sweet feed (Tindle Trails) because he was almost starved when we got him. He is filling out nicely. He is going to be over 16H and I would also like to know how to get the height out of him.

What and how much do you feed warmblood foals/weanlings?

I have a 19 year old large pony (14.2 H) that is out on pasture and also receiving good quality hay in the am and pm. He is being given only a handful of grain in morning and afternoon. Should he be getting some sort of additional minerals and vitamins? What do I look for?

Is the Alfalfa/Molasses mix what they call 'sweet feed'? Is it to be used as a treat or can it replace the small amount of alfalfa hay I currently give in addition to bermuda grass hay? How much is too much for a sedentary 16 year old gelding?

I am looking for advice on feeding a TB broodmare bred to a Warmblood. I feed 50/50 Alfalfa/timothy. I've been told to feed a 14% grain during the last trimester and 16% during lactation. Is this too much? I've been feeding a 12% pelleted feed. I've also fed dynamite vitamins but am told this may upset the balance in the grains available.

What should I feed my 17 year old 15.1 H Arab gelding who is ridden lightly four times a month?

What is the best supplement for degenerative joint disease and ring bone? Also, what is a feed for hard keepers that is inexpensive?

What are the symptoms of excess and deficiency in the trace element chromium?

In the UK we are recommended not to feed new seasons hay until about October of the year in which it is cut. Can you tell me the reason? I have known many horse owners who feed it much earlier without any apparent ill effects.

I have a three year old Colombian Breeder who has an extremely calm temperament. Is there anything I can feed him to make him more active?

At what ratio should oats be used to replace 12-14% sweet feed? Horse feed is from a mill.

I have a 2 1/2 year old appendix QH/paint stock gelding who I would like to barrel race when older. What % of feed should I give him? He is currently eating 2 pounds of 14% sweet feed (Tindle Trails) because he was almost starved when we got him. He is filling out nicely. He is going to be over 16H and I would also like to know how to get the height out of him.

What and how much do you feed warmblood foals/weanlings?

I have a 19 year old large pony (14.2 H) that is out on pasture and also receiving good quality hay in the am and pm. He is being given only a handful of grain in morning and afternoon. Should he be getting some sort of additional minerals and vitamins? What do I look for?

Is the Alfalfa/Molasses mix what they call 'sweet feed'? Is it to be used as a treat or can it replace the small amount of alfalfa hay I currently give in addition to bermuda grass hay? How much is too much for a sedentary 16 year old gelding?

What does a large belly on a 7 month old filly indicate? She is not fat otherwise and has been wormed.

I am looking for advice on feeding a TB broodmare bred to a Warmblood. I feed 50/50 Alfalfa/timothy. I've been told to feed a 14% grain during the last trimester and 16% during lactation. Is this too much? I've been feeding a 12% pelleted feed. I've also fed dynamite vitamins but am told this may upset the balance in the grains available.

What should I feed my 17 year old 15.1 H Arab gelding who is ridden lightly four times a month?

What is the best supplement for degenerative joint disease and ring bone? Also, what is a feed for hard keepers that is inexpensive?

What are the symptoms of excess and deficiency in the trace element chromium?

In the UK we are recommended not to feed new seasons hay until about October of the year in which it is cut. Can you tell me the reason? I have known many horse owners who feed it much earlier without any apparent ill effects.

I have a three year old Colombian Breeder who has an extremely calm temperament. Is there anything I can feed him to make him more active?

I have a 12 year old mare with heaves, she does really good in spring and summer but winter creates a problem with feeding. If you give her hay, she coughs terribly. I've tried wetting the hay but that didn't work. Do you have any suggestions?

When I try to give oral meds to my horse, he just refuses to swallow. Do you have any tips on how to make him swallow?

I have been told that Purina Strategy GX is a good feed for a wide variety of horses with varying nutritional needs and it helps to prevent them from being too hyper. I am feeding several horses, including one yearling. They all get good grass and alfalfa along with the Strategy. Is this a complete diet for them?

What is the best diet for a 14 month old anglo-trakehner? He has some epiphysitis in one part of his right knee. We cut his grain in half, getting about 3 pounds twice a day of 12% pellets, but the barn owner insists on continuing to feed him two flakes of alfalfa a day along with lots of coastal bermuda. He gets no supplements except for a mineralized salt block (the reddish kind).

My 9 year old TB eats dirt. He is competed regularly in dressage, show jumping, and eventing and is fed alfalfa hay and locally mixed sweetfeed. His weight is good, maybe a bit on the pudgy side. He won't eat home dirt, but when I take him 1 1/2 or more hours away from home, he eats big mouthfuls of mud. Is he lacking some mineral that causes this? Should I start him on ESe supplement and see if he stops? How much grit can he injest before he colics?

I have a 20 year old Swedish Warmblood. He gets worked 5 days a week, lower level dressage. He has been getting two small coffee cans of 14% pellets two times a day. I've heard it is not good for the old guys to have that high a protein grain. He seems to be doing well and is in good flesh. I am concerned and would like to know if you think I should lower the percentage.

It is widely known that you don't feed this year's hay until after Christmas. Why?

How much and what do I feed a horse every day?

If my horse is going to be pastured on my own land, how often do I need to feed grains and what kinds are best?

I would like to know if there are any feed supplements that help "clicking" in the hind end. My horse is twelve and his back joints continually click when he walks. Could this be arthritis?

I recently bought 11 acres that is covered with Alpha. I read in your files that it is OK for the horse to eat Alpha. Can they graze on Alpha or is there a specific breed of horse that can?

I recently purchased a 19 year old Arabian, who is very thin. What is the best type of food to put weight on him? I currently feed him 1/2 # rolled oats + 1/2 # COB twice daily and he is on pasture full time.

Could you tell me how I can fatten my horse? He is in light work and is being fed 1.5 kg of Dunstan coolfeed plus copra and lucerne chaff. He has plenty of grass but is in light condition and not putting on weight.

Why would my horse choose to occasionally eat dirt (with enthusiasm) despite the availability of plentiful clover and grass, in addition to rations of hay and grain?

I have a 19 year old Morgan who is overweight and has foundered. We put heartbar shoes on, but need exercises to reduce her weight. She is in a dry pen with only dry hay being fed. Any other suggestions?

I have a 23 year old quarter horse who has arthritis in his front right leg. I have heard that the chondroitin sulfate products have shown a considerable improvement for horses. Is this true? It is very expensive and I want to make sure before I start him on it.

What type of information would I need to send you to have a feed analysis done on my current feeding program? What type of computer program do you use and how much would it cost to have this done? I have obtained a lot of information from your column and would like to make sure my feeding program is adequate for my broodmare and my performance horse.

What will get a horse hotter, oat hay or alfalfa? Would it be better to feed grass hay, rather than either oat or alfalfa?

I have always been taught that if you feed beet pulp, you MUST soak it thoroughly for hours before feeding. Recently someone at the barn starting feeding large amounts of DRY beet pulp mixed with other grain to her aged horse. I was concerned that this is dangerous. Is it? She claims to have read an article saying that it is safe to feed beet pulp in this manner.

How do you feel about molasses coated grains? Does "sugar" affect the gut, stress the immune system, and the attitude of horses?

We have been told that we are feeding an incorrect phosphorus supplement; supposedly we need to be feeding a form of phosphorus that is "water soluble" as horses cannot assimilate anything else. Is there a correct versus an incorrect form of phosphorus?

I have a ready to foal 12.3hh Welsh pony mare. We've had her for a year and a half and this is her second foal with us. Since we got her, she has steadily lost weight and remains thin even though we have increased her feed, done wormings, etc. The vet thinks she will be skin and bones after foaling. I just read an article about soy intolerance and am wondering if a soy free diet would help her.

I have an 8 year old mare with her first foal. I would like to know the proper feeding she needs to give enough milk and when should I start trying to supplement the foal. She is in a pasture by herself with free grazing and fresh water.

My yearling colt lost an awful lot of weight this winter. What is the best diet for him?

I am looking for information on sprouting grains.  How is it done and what are the benefits?

I have a 13 year old, 17.2 H, Hanoverian in heavy dressage training. He has a middle range heart murmur. Which supplements (DMG?) could help him with stamina, etc.?

I have a coming 4 year old warmblood gelding who is already 17.1. He gets two large flakes of 8% protein hay (wheat, barley, oat combo) with a quarter flake (2-3 lbs) of good alfalfa mixed in each day. He also gets Cappers brand Standard Formula (pellets--rated at 12%) about five times a week. I add in a 30% protein coat supplement called Nulmage. He had a small growth issue in one of his hocks and I am concerned for his protein and mineral intake. What is missing from his diet? Is the coat supplement going to hurt him with all that protein?

How can I estimate the calorie content of feed per pound from the feed tag that lists percent fiber, protein, and fat?

I board 12 horses, ranging from 7 to 30 years old.  The only complaint that I hear is: my horse is losing weight.  I feed coastal hay, one flake in the morning with 2 scoops of Mule City Feed 11 1/2 protein with corn.  This same amount is also fed at night.  They are on daily turn-out approximately 10 hours per day.  All horses are being wormed.  Can you suggest how I can put weight on these horses and maintain it?

Are there supplements, such as DMG, which are helpful for increasing energy and stamina in a large warmblood who has a mid-range heart murmur?

My 17 year old Arab/cross gelding is on a mix of one third alfalfa hay and two thirds (or more) bermuda grass hay. I am tired of the quality of the alfalfa and fighting with it. Can I substitute alfalfa cubes and/or pellets for that portion (he likes them) and how much would equal the one third?

How dangerous is monesin (Rumensin)? I purchased custom mixed feed yesterday and it was mixed directly after cattle feed with Rumesin. I made them run 100# of cracked corn through first, but after reading Equus 226, page 10, I am afraid to use the feed.

How much do you figure it costs a winter or even a year to feed a horse? What if a guy has 20 acres?

I have an almost 5 year old, 16.2 warmblood/thoroughbred gelding and am confused by the array of feeds and supplements to give him. He is in light training, usually ridden lightly four-five days per week, and in a stall with brief turn-outs daily. He gets alfalfa hay, 2-3 flakes twice per day, plus a biotin supplement for his hooves. Should I supplement his hay? If so, what kind and what brand?

Which type of hay is considered best for a horse: coastal, T&A, or peanut hay?

I need a weight supplement for a young horse 4 years old. I have tried everything on the market so far, wormed her, etc. But, she is not gaining weight. What is the best product to use and for how long?

 

Click here for more Feed and Nutrition questions and answers by April Cooperr

Questions and Answers

Q: I need a weight supplement for a young horse 4 years old. I have tried everything on the market so far, wormed her, etc. But, she is not gaining weight. What is the best product to use and for how long?

A: It sounds to me, not knowing all the facts regarding your 4 year old horse, that perhaps your horse is not drinking enough water to mobilize all the energy in the horse's body. I have seen good experience with a product from Topfit, called Paciflor. You feed 1.5 oz to 2.5 oz. (or 50-80 gr) per day split over two feedings. You could try this for 10 days. But to get real success, I suggest that you put your horse on this program for a minimum of 3 months. Another suggestion is to find out if your horse's mineral intake is balanced properly. Ask your vet to help you with this.

 

Q: Which type of hay is considered best for a horse: coastal, T&A, or peanut hay?

A: Any hay is good for your horse, as long as it is dried properly, has a nice color, and is mold free. 

 

Q: I have an almost 5 year old, 16.2 warmblood/thoroughbred gelding and am confused by the array of feeds and supplements to give him. He is in light training, usually ridden lightly four-five days per week, and in a stall with brief turn-outs daily. He gets alfalfa hay, 2-3 flakes twice per day, plus a biotin supplement for his hooves. Should I supplement his hay? If so, what kind and what brand?

A: Without knowing all the facts and how much you feed your horse and what type of feed, I would recommend that you double the hay flakes, especially in the evening, and if you would like to do something good to help maintain his good health, feed him a mineral supplement with a Calcium Phosphorus rate of 5:1.

 

Q: How much do you figure it costs a winter or even a year to feed a horse? What if a guy has 20 acres?

A: To answer your question simply, to my personal opinion with feeding horses for over 40 years, it would cost you approximately $200.00 a month to feed your horse properly, or more.

 

Q: How dangerous is monesin (Rumensin)? I purchased custom mixed feed yesterday and it was mixed directly after cattle feed with Rumesin. I made them run 100# of cracked corn through first, but after reading Equus 226, page 10, I am afraid to use the feed.

A: I don't think you have anything to worry about. If you had 100 lbs. of cracked corn run through, it should have cleaned out any remaining monesin.

 

Q: My 17 year old Arab/cross gelding is on a mix of one third alfalfa hay and two thirds (or more) bermuda grass hay. I am tired of the quality of the alfalfa and fighting with it. Can I substitute alfalfa cubes and/or pellets for that portion (he likes them) and how much would equal the one third?

A: I can understand that at times you get tired of poor quality hay that is available to you. But I must tell you, that many manufacturers of various pellets do not always use the best quality raw materials when making their pellets and cubes. So you are back to square one. Perhaps if you spend a bit more for your hay, you will get a better quality and your horse will get better roughage.

 

Q: Are there supplements, such as DMG, which are helpful for increasing energy and stamina in a large warmblood who has a mid-range heart murmur?

A:  I am not familiar with the product DMG.  What I think may be a similar product that has been available for the past 4 years is Performance.  It helps such horses with a heart murmur, or that are too tired cope and perform better.

 

Q: I board 12 horses, ranging from 7 to 30 years old.  The only complaint that I hear is: my horse is losing weight.  I feed coastal hay, one flake in the morning with 2 scoops of Mule City Feed 11 1/2 protein with corn.  This same amount is also fed at night.  They are on daily turn-out approximately 10 hours per day.  All horses are being wormed.  Can you suggest how I can put weight on these horses and maintain it?

A:  It is unfortunate to hear such complaints from your boarders.  I do not believe that you can keep a horse in proper shape, with only one flake of hay and 2 scoops of feed with corn, fed twice daily including 10 hours of turn-out time per day.   My suggestion to you is to try feeding straight oats with some proper supplements and your hay must be increased to a minimum square bail per horse per day.  I understand that everything comes down to making a profit on your business, and if your boarders are not willing to pay a decent price for keeping their horses, then you will simply have to listen to such complaints.

 

Q: How can I estimate the calorie content of feed per pound from the feed tag that lists percent fiber, protein, and fat?

A: I personally do not know anyone who can calculate the calorie intake of a horse.  You have to figure out yourself how much you have to feed so that your horse performs to your requirements.  To my knowledge, there is only one rule in horse feeding: the eye of the owner feeds the horse.

 

Q: I have a coming 4 year old warmblood gelding who is already 17.1. He gets two large flakes of 8% protein hay (wheat, barley, oat combo) with a quarter flake (2-3 lbs) of good alfalfa mixed in each day. He also gets Cappers brand Standard Formula (pellets--rated at 12%) about five times a week. I add in a 30% protein coat supplement called Nulmage. He had a small growth issue in one of his hocks and I am concerned for his protein and mineral intake. What is missing from his diet? Is the coat supplement going to hurt him with all that protein?

A:  I have been involved in the warmblood and thoroughbred raising business for approximately 35 years and I would recommend you change your feeding program to a simpler one, excluding wheat and barley, and increasing your oats portion to 5-10 lbs. per day.  Also, eliminate the pellets and replace them with a mineral supplement, which includes calcium & phosphorus (ratio 5:1).  Also try feeding more hay to your horse.  Try to take care when selecting hay that is dust free, mold free and smells fresh. 

 

Q: I have a 13 year old, 17.2 H, Hanoverian in heavy dressage training. He has a middle range heart murmur. Which supplements (DMG?) could help him with stamina, etc.?

A:  DMG or perhaps another supplement called "Performance" helps many horses that are in training, be it dressage or horses competing at the racetrack.

 

Q: I am looking for information on sprouting grains.  How is it done and what are the benefits?

A:  Sprouting grains can be done the same for horses as we do for humans.  Simply have a tray where you sprinkle the seeds, mainly barley or wheat and water daily.  After the seeds have sprouted several inches you can feed the fresh growth to your horses.  The benefits are that your horse receives fresh greens, which have a high concentration of protein and vitamins. 

 

Q: My yearling colt lost an awful lot of weight this winter. What is the best diet for him?

A:  To make a recommendation, I really need to have more information available to me.  The reason being, I have seen many horses over the winter that do not drink enough water and become dehydrated.  This could be one of the reasons for your colt losing weight.  Get back to us with further information or simply consult with your veterinarian.

 

Q: I have an 8 year old mare with her first foal. I would like to know the proper feeding she needs to give enough milk and when should I start trying to supplement the foal. She is in a pasture by herself with free grazing and fresh water.

A:  In general a foal receives the highest milk within the first 4 weeks.  After this time the milk starts to decline as the foal also begins to eat more with the mare along side of it.  At this time, I always recommend that in the mares stall a larger feed top, 3-4 feet long and not more than 2 feet high be available, so that mare and foal are allowed to eat together.  Most foals already begin to nibble at feed at the age of 10 days.

 

Q: I have a ready to foal 12.3hh Welsh pony mare. We've had her for a year and a half and this is her second foal with us. Since we got her, she has steadily lost weight and remains thin even though we have increased her feed, done wormings, etc. The vet thinks she will be skin and bones after foaling. I just read an article about soy intolerance and am wondering if a soy free diet would help her.

A: You mention increasing her feed, please let us know what it is that you are feeding your Welsh pony mare.  Then I might be able to answer your question.

 

Q: We have been told that we are feeding an incorrect phosphorus supplement; supposedly we need to be feeding a form of phosphorus that is "water soluble" as horses cannot assimilate anything else. Is there a correct versus an incorrect form of phosphorus?

A: To answer your question, could you forward the analysis of your phosphorus supplement to us?  Possibly I will be able to help you.

 

Q: How do you feel about molasses coated grains? Does "sugar" affect the gut, stress the immune system, and the attitude of horses?

A:  Sorry to say that I am not in favor of these grains.  Yes sugar will naturally affect the gut, it is an unnatural thing for horses to eat sugar in this form.  The only form of sugar that is digestible and does your horse good it that derived from grape sugar.  Feeding molasses in any form will change the attitude of your horses, ie. making them hyper.

 

Q: I have always been taught that if you feed beet pulp, you MUST soak it thoroughly for hours before feeding. Recently someone at the barn starting feeding large amounts of DRY beet pulp mixed with other grain to her aged horse. I was concerned that this is dangerous. Is it? She claims to have read an article saying that it is safe to feed beet pulp in this manner.

A:  In general I would not recommend feeding any type of beet pulp to horses, be it soaked or not.   It is dangerous for horses to eat beet pulp, as they do not ruminate (to chew their cud) their feed as cows do who can then digest beet pulp properly.

 

Q: What will get a horse hotter, oat hay or alfalfa? Would it be better to feed grass hay, rather than either oat or alfalfa?

A:  I am unsure what you mean when you ask "What will get a horse hotter?"  I have not seen horses become hot when being fed balanced hay.

 

Q: What type of information would I need to send you to have a feed analysis done on my current feeding program? What type of computer program do you use and how much would it cost to have this done? I have obtained a lot of information from your column and would like to make sure my feeding program is adequate for my broodmare and my performance horse.

A: We do not feed our horses by means of a computer program.  If you wish to forward to me information regarding what you are feeding, then I will be able to make some recommendations to you.

 

Q: I have a 23 year old quarter horse who has arthritis in his front right leg. I have heard that the chondroitin sulfate products have shown a considerable improvement for horses. Is this true? It is very expensive and I want to make sure before I start him on it.

A: Yes they have seen an improvement for horses, but you can compare this with oiling a squeaky hinge, after you stop, the problem returns again.  Another alternative now available is a product made from Gelatin Hydrolysate, which helps the formation, maintenance and also regenerates joints, cartilage, bone and ligaments.  This product has also seen much success in humans.  These products seem expensive, but they work.

 

Q: I have a 19 year old Morgan who is overweight and has foundered. We put heartbar shoes on, but need exercises to reduce her weight. She is in a dry pen with only dry hay being fed. Any other suggestions?

A:  If you would like to see my 32-year Mare, Winnie, who has foundered 4 times in her life, always after she has given birth, go to http://www.topfit-online.com and you can see a photo of her.  I would recommend that you take your mare out of the dry pen and let her graze in a large field, so that she will be able to move around and get lots of exercise increasing the circulation in her legs.  With regards to feeding, I feed my mare everyday 5-8 lbs. rolled oats, cooked linseed, along with several natural supplements.  Just to mention that Winnie has also been heavie (has asthma) for 20 years, and has given birth to 17 live foals.  You can see how great she looks, and she is on no other medication.

 

Q: Why would my horse choose to occasionally eat dirt (with enthusiasm) despite the availability of plentiful clover and grass, in addition to rations of hay and grain?

A:  It sounds to me that when a horse eats dirt the way you mention, that he is in serious need of some minerals.  In addition to rations of hay and grain, provide you horse with a wider variety of different products, including mineral stones or mineral supplements etc.

 

Q: Could you tell me how I can fatten my horse? He is in light work and is being fed 1.5 kg of Dunstan coolfeed plus copra and lucerne chaff. He has plenty of grass but is in light condition and not putting on weight.

A:  It could be that when eating all this dry feed that your horse is not taking in enough water.  Make sure there is plenty of water available for your horse.  If you could add 3 kg. oats to the Dunstan feed, plus 1-2 oz. of cold pressed linseed oil, this should be of benefit to your horse.

 

Q: I recently purchased a 19 year old Arabian, who is very thin. What is the best type of food to put weight on him? I currently feed him 1/2 # rolled oats + 1/2 # COB twice daily and he is on pasture full time.

A:  Usually I tell people "the eye of the owner feeds the horse".  What you are currently feeding your Arabian is insufficient.  I suggest that you increase the amount of rolled oats and include minerals and cold pressed linseed oil.  Also make sure that plenty of water is available for him.  Perhaps you might want to supplement with an electrolyte.

 

Q: I recently bought 11 acres that is covered with Alpha. I read in your files that it is OK for the horse to eat Alpha. Can they graze on Alpha or is there a specific breed of horse that can?

A:  Any breed of horse can graze on Alpha.  But I would suggest that before you turn your horse out in the morning, that you give him a 1/2 square bale of normal grass hay.  Give him an hour or 1 1/2 hour time to eat this, and then turn him out so that he does not go out into the field with an empty stomach and he will then graze slowly. 

 

Q: I would like to know if there are any feed supplements that help "clicking" in the hind end. My horse is twelve and his back joints continually click when he walks. Could this be arthritis?

A:  I suggest that you contact your veterinarian if you have concerns about your horse having arthritis.  There are many supplements out on the market, which can help to prevent and also even repair joint problems.  Look for the all-natural type of supplement.  If you have a problem locating good quality supplements, please do not hesitate to contact me.

 

Q: If my horse is going to be pastured on my own land, how often do I need to feed grains and what kinds are best?

A:  How good are your pastures?  Is your horse doing any type of exercise?  If so then I would recommend that you feed oats and some supplements, or a mixed feed which might be more convenient for you.

 

Q: How much and what do I feed a horse every day?

A:  There is no general answer to this question.  I need more detail to give an answer.

 

Q: It is widely known that you don't feed this year's hay until after Christmas. Why?

A:  You have posed a very interesting question.  What many horse owners do not realize is that fresh hay after it has be harvested and baled, must be left in storage to sweat for at least 8-10 weeks.  After this time you can feed it to your horse without any risk.

 

Q: I have a 20 year old Swedish Warmblood. He gets worked 5 days a week, lower level dressage. He has been getting two small coffee cans of 14% pellets two times a day. I've heard it is not good for the old guys to have that high a protein grain. He seems to be doing well and is in good flesh. I am concerned and would like to know if you think I should lower the percentage.

A:  It sounds like your horse is doing well.  I can only recommend that you supplement 1 can of rolled oats with the pellets.  You do not mention that for his age of 20 that you are supplementing anything else.  Perhaps you need to provide a supplement for wear and tear of his joints and bones.

 

Q: My 9 year old TB eats dirt. He is competed regularly in dressage, show jumping, and eventing and is fed alfalfa hay and locally mixed sweetfeed. His weight is good, maybe a bit on the pudgy side. He won't eat home dirt, but when I take him 1 1/2 or more hours away from home, he eats big mouthfuls of mud. Is he lacking some mineral that causes this? Should I start him on ESe supplement and see if he stops? How much grit can he injest before he colics?

A:  I would recommend that you feed your horse a good mineral supplement, between 100-120 grams or 3-4 oz. per day.  It sounds like he is missing this in his regular diet.  When you choose your mineral supplement look to a ratio of 5:1 calcium: phosphorus.   This should stop your horse from eating dirt and prevent colic.

 

Q: What is the best diet for a 14 month old anglo-trakehner? He has some epiphysitis in one part of his right knee. We cut his grain in half, getting about 3 pounds twice a day of 12% pellets, but the barn owner insists on continuing to feed him two flakes of alfalfa a day along with lots of coastal bermuda. He gets no supplements except for a mineralized salt block (the reddish kind).

A:  I would recommend that you consult with your veterinarian.   If this problem in the knee were contributed to a nutritional deficiency, it would be seen in both knees.  Feeding your young horse some supplements and minerals, specially formulated for young horses up to the age of 18 months, could help. 

 

Q: I have been told that Purina Strategy GX is a good feed for a wide variety of horses with varying nutritional needs and it helps to prevent them from being too hyper. I am feeding several horses, including one yearling. They all get good grass and alfalfa along with the Strategy. Is this a complete diet for them?

A: If you have no deficiency in your horses and your horses are doing well, I would not change their diet.  I personally believe in a more natural feeding program ie. oats,  hay and natural supplements, and not in a manufactured feed. 

 

Q: When I try to give oral meds to my horse, he just refuses to swallow. Do you have any tips on how to make him swallow?

A:   I can sympathize with you, as this is quite a common problem.  My tip to you is to use a syringe for liquid meds, for tablets, grind and soak in water and then use a syringe.  Lift the head, administer the meds and then put your fingers on either side of the jaw, making him chew and naturally swallowing what ever is in the mouth.  Or if you have a horse, which has received so many meds, he has gotten very smart and simply refuses to ingest any more, then they must be administered by injection.

 

Q: I have a 12 year old mare with heaves, she does really good in spring and summer but winter creates a problem with feeding. If you give her hay, she coughs terribly. I've tried wetting the hay but that didn't work. Do you have any suggestions?

A:  For your mare with heaves, does she have a heated water bucket to drink sufficient water in the winter?  Sometimes lack of water causes a horse to have a dry throat in the winter months.  Is the hay the best available, dust and mold free?  I can recommend to you what we have fed our own horses with heaves.  Supplement her feed with natural herbs, garlic herbs, Paciflor, Vitamin E and rolled oats too.  You can see a photo of our horse Winnie when you go to http://www.topfit-online.com

 

Q: I have a three year old Colombian Breeder who has an extremely calm temperament. Is there anything I can feed him to make him more active?

A: To answer your question fully, I really need to know what you are feeding your horse. Are you feeding any oats at all? 

 

Q: In the UK we are recommended not to feed new seasons hay until about October of the year in which it is cut. Can you tell me the reason? I have known many horse owners who feed it much earlier without any apparent ill effects.

A: Yes, this recommendation in the UK is 100% correct. You can bail every type of hay at the driest stage and it will "sweat". In general it takes approximately 10-12 weeks for it to cool out. I cannot agree with feeding hay before this time, as I have seen many horses becoming ill and even worse, dying. 

 

Q: What are the symptoms of excess and deficiency in the trace element chromium?

A: I am not aware of any symptoms of excess or deficiency in the trace element chromium. According to American Feed Control Officials, and support from Europe, chromium, in the form of chromium tripicolinate is not recommended in any feed for horses, as it can be poisonous to horses. In all my reading I only came across it as being recommended in feed for swine. 

 

Q: What is the best supplement for degenerative joint disease and ring bone? Also, what is a feed for hard keepers that is inexpensive?

A: There are many different products on the market today for degenerative joint problems. You can use products manufactured using sulfate, which simply stated greases the joint, or you can find products available using gelatine hydrolysate, which has been found to actually regenerate and heal the joint and even reduce the calcium production associated with ring bone. Regarding hard keepers, I would ask your vet to do a blood test on the horse. After reviewing the results, if you detect an imbalance of minerals, it can be easily remedied by supplementing with minerals and trace elements. If there is no problem, I always recommend feeding the best oats, which you can find for your horse. 

 

Q: What should I feed my 17 year old 15.1 H Arab gelding who is ridden lightly four times a month?

A: My suggestion is to feed good hay, fresh water, oats and perhaps some supplements considering his age. 

 

Q: I am looking for advice on feeding a TB broodmare bred to a Warmblood. I feed 50/50 Alfalfa/timothy. I've been told to feed a 14% grain during the last trimester and 16% during lactation. Is this too much? I've been feeding a 12% pelleted feed. I've also fed dynamite vitamins but am told this may upset the balance in the grains available.

A: It sounds to me what you have been told to feed your TB broodmare is correct. The grain feeding is a question of opinion. To my experience the percentage of protein is not important. What is important is the combination of the ingredients of the mixed grains. Or simply switch over to oats and supplements. 

 

Q: What does a large belly on a 7 month old filly indicate? She is not fat otherwise and has been wormed.

A: I would recommend that you consult with your veterinarian to find out the source of this problem. From what I can see your filly may show signs of under nourishment. If you have any other questions or need further assistance, please forward a photo to me. 

 

Q: Is the Alfalfa/Molasses mix what they call 'sweet feed'? Is it to be used as a treat or can it replace the small amount of alfalfa hay I currently give in addition to bermuda grass hay? How much is too much for a sedentary 16 year old gelding?

A: Yes, to my understanding alfalfa/molasses mix is called sweet feed. No it is not to be used as a treat, it is a regular feed for horses. You can feed your horse with any type of hay only or supply him with sweet feed or oats, depending on the workload of your 16-year-old gelding. This decision is one that you must make yourself. If the condition of the horse is good, ie. good coat, hoofs, etc. then your horse will be fine, if not, then you may wish to supplement with a few minerals and vitamins. 

 

Q: I have a 19 year old large pony (14.2 H) that is out on pasture and also receiving good quality hay in the am and pm. He is being given only a handful of grain in morning and afternoon. Should he be getting some sort of additional minerals and vitamins? What do I look for?

A: It would be very beneficial for your pony to be  given some minerals and supplements to keep him moving and more comfortable. Take care to see that your pony does not become over weight, as this could be hard on him. 

 

Q: What and how much do you feed warmblood foals/weanlings?

A: To answer your question, many books have been written regarding feeding foals and weanlings. I personally find this stage the most important one in the life of a horse. Too many people do not realize this. Over the past 40 years of breeding and raising 100's of foals, I always fed oats, plus foal supplements, lots of hay and fresh grass. To decide how much each foal/weanling may need must be calculated individually, based on the condition of the horse. 

 

Q: I have a 2 1/2 year old appendix QH/paint stock gelding who I would like to barrel race when older. What % of feed should I give him? He is currently eating 2 pounds of 14% sweet feed (Tindle Trails) because he was almost starved when we got him. He is filling out nicely. He is going to be over 16H and I would also like to know how to get the height out of him.

A: According to what you have written about your 2 1/2 year old, he sounds to be getting what he needs. You could also start to add 2-4 lbs. oats plus supplements to his sweet feed. 

 

Q: At what ratio should oats be used to replace 12-14% sweet feed? Horse feed is from a mill.

A: This is a difficult question, as you do not state how much sweet feed is fed per day. In general, oats (depending on the quality) are a much better feed for horses. Adding minerals and supplements to the oats would also be very beneficial. (Oats have been fed to horses for centuries before sweet feed became manufactured.) 

 

Q: I have a three year old Colombian Breeder who has an extremely calm temperament. Is there anything I can feed him to make him more active?

A: To answer your question fully, I really need to know what you are feeding your horse. Are you feeding any oats at all? 

 

Q: In the UK we are recommended not to feed new seasons hay until about October of the year in which it is cut. Can you tell me the reason? I have known many horse owners who feed it much earlier without any apparent ill effects.

A: Yes, this recommendation in the UK is 100% correct. You can bail every type of hay at the driest stage and it will "sweat". In general it takes approximately 10-12 weeks for it to cool out. I cannot agree with feeding hay before this time, as I have seen many horses becoming ill and even worse, dying. 

 

Q: What are the symptoms of excess and deficiency in the trace element chromium?

A: I am not aware of any symptoms of excess or deficiency in the trace element chromium. According to American Feed Control Officials, and support from Europe, chromium, in the form of chromium tripicolinate is not recommended in any feed for horses, as it can be poisonous to horses. In all my reading I only came across it as being recommended in feed for swine. 

 

Q: What is the best supplement for degenerative joint disease and ring bone? Also, what is a feed for hard keepers that is inexpensive?

A: There are many different products on the market today for degenerative joint problems. You can use products manufactured using sulfate, which simply stated greases the joint, or you can find products available using gelatine hydrolysate, which has been found to actually regenerate and heal the joint and even reduce the calcium production associated with ring bone. Regarding hard keepers, I would ask your vet to do a blood test on the horse. After reviewing the results, if you detect an imbalance of minerals, it can be easily remedied by supplementing with minerals and trace elements. If there is no problem, I always recommend feeding the best oats, which you can find for your horse. 

 

Q: What should I feed my 17 year old 15.1 H Arab gelding who is ridden lightly four times a month?

A: My suggestion is to feed good hay, fresh water, oats and perhaps some supplements considering his age. 

 

Q: I am looking for advice on feeding a TB broodmare bred to a Warmblood. I feed 50/50 Alfalfa/timothy. I've been told to feed a 14% grain during the last trimester and 16% during lactation. Is this too much? I've been feeding a 12% pelleted feed. I've also fed dynamite vitamins but am told this may upset the balance in the grains available.

A: It sounds to me what you have been told to feed your TB broodmare is correct. The grain feeding is a question of opinion. To my experience the percentage of protein is not important. What is important is the combination of the ingredients of the mixed grains. Or simply switch over to oats and supplements. 

 

Q: What does a large belly on a 7 month old filly indicate? She is not fat otherwise and has been wormed.

A: I would recommend that you consult with your veterinarian to find out the source of this problem. From what I can see your filly may show signs of under nourishment. If you have any other questions or need further assistance, please forward a photo to me. 

 

Q: Is the Alfalfa/Molasses mix what they call 'sweet feed'? Is it to be used as a treat or can it replace the small amount of alfalfa hay I currently give in addition to bermuda grass hay? How much is too much for a sedentary 16 year old gelding?

A: Yes, to my understanding alfalfa/molasses mix is called sweet feed. No it is not to be used as a treat, it is a regular feed for horses. You can feed your horse with any type of hay only or supply him with sweet feed or oats, depending on the workload of your 16-year-old gelding. This decision is one that you must make yourself. If the condition of the horse is good, ie. good coat, hoofs, etc. then your horse will be fine, if not, then you may wish to supplement with a few minerals and vitamins. 

 

Q: I have a 19 year old large pony (14.2 H) that is out on pasture and also receiving good quality hay in the am and pm. He is being given only a handful of grain in morning and afternoon. Should he be getting some sort of additional minerals and vitamins? What do I look for?

A: It would be very beneficial for your pony to given some minerals and supplements to keep him moving and more comfortable. Take care to see that your pony does not become over weight, as this could be hard on him. 

 

Q: What and how much do you feed warmblood foals/weanlings?

A: To answer your question, many books have been written regarding feeding foals and weanlings. I personally find this stage the most important one in the life of a horse. Too many people do not realize this. Over the past 40 years of breeding and raising 100's of foals, I always fed oats, plus foal supplements, lots of hay and fresh grass. To decide how much each foal/weanling may need must be calculated individually, based on the condition of the horse. 

 

Q: I have a 2 1/2 year old appendix QH/paint stock gelding who I would like to barrel race when older. What % of feed should I give him? He is currently eating 2 pounds of 14% sweet feed (Tindle Trails) because he was almost starved when we got him. He is filling out nicely. He is going to be over 16H and I would also like to know how to get the height out of him.

A: According to what you have written about your 2 1/2 year old, he sounds to be getting what he needs. You could also start to add 2-4 lbs. oats plus supplements to his sweet feed. 

 

Q: At what ratio should oats be used to replace 12-14% sweet feed? Horse feed is from a mill.

A: This is a difficult question, as you do not state how much sweet feed is fed per day. In general, oats (depending on the quality) are a much better feed for horses. Adding minerals and supplements to the oats would also be very beneficial. (Oats have been fed to horses for centuries before sweet feed became manufactured.) 

 

Q: What is a good winter diet for my horse? She is a 9 year old quarter horse, 14.3 H, used for barrel racing and western games once a week at moderate speeds. Right now her diet consists of 1 flake alfalfa and 1 flake orchard/timothy grass hay in the morning and 1 flake alfalfa and 2 flakes orchard timothy grass at night. She gets turned out on the weekends for about 2 hours on 1/2 acre pasture. Should her diet be different on weekends from weekdays? Should she be getting any grain?

A: Dear horse owner, please give me more information so that I can properly answer your question. My personal opinion after reading your question, is that it seems to me that your horse is standing 6 days, 24 hours a day in her stall and then you take her out once for barrel racing and grazing. Are there no other training and exercising for this horse? 

 

Q: We have a couple of Thoroughbred mares who are moody about eating their 12% sweet feed. We have tried antacids recommended by our vet. Some days they do not eat grain at all. They always eat hay and their medical upkeep is great. Any ideas?

A: Why not try to replace the sweet feed (feeding sugar) slowly over a period of time with good quality oats. And also add high quality mineral supplements to their feed. You should notice a change in their attitude. If you have any other questions, please feel free to contact me. 

 

Q: What are the best supplements to feed a broodmare?

A: My recommendation would be to use a mineral supplement, minimum 100-150 gr. (3-5 oz.) per day. Make sure that the mineral supplement has a well-balanced Ca : P ratio of 5:1 added to her daily feed. For a more detailed recommendation, please get back to me with more information regarding the feeding of your broodmare. 

 

Q: What is Perna Mussel?

A: Perna Mussels, also called Green Lipped Mussels, can be used in effective natural alternative treatments of humans with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. 

 

Q: Can you tell me where to get Respond horse feed for a horse with allergies?

A: I am not familiar with this particular type of feed. You do not mention what type of allergies you horse suffers from. Respond horse feed sounds like it could be another mixed grain available on the market. If you cannot find this particular product, why not take another approach and feed your horse oats, good hay and some supplements, and refrain from feeding mixed grains, which may contain animal by-products etc. 

 

Q: Are there any alternatives to the feeding of hay? Are cereals low in starch?

A: There is no alternative to the feeding of hay, if you like to have healthy animals, you must feed hay. Oats is the only cereal, which is low in starch, which a horse can easily digest. I only recommend oats for the reason that horses only have one stomach, not like cows which have 4 stomachs and who are ruminators, therefore enabling them to fully digest other cereals such as corn, wheat or barley. 

 

Q: Is there prevention for impaction?

A: Yes there is a prevention for impaction. The most important thing is to remove any stress that could affect your horse emotional status. Proper feeding, clean food, fresh water, good hay, physical activity, training and grazing, and also I recommend no feeding of animal by-products. 

 

Q: What, if any, type of feed is best suited for a first time mare, age 5, due to foal in 4-6 weeks? She is eating alfalpha hay now.

A: Have you by chance had an opportunity to read some literature on how to prepare a mare for foaling? This is the most important stage for an unborn foal. I would recommend to feed some oats with minerals so that the mare can transfer the nutrients to the foal so that a healthy foal, with good straight bones can be born. For your next breeding, I myself prepare my mares before I breed her to avoid and eliminate problems such as nervous mares, no milk, croaked foals etc…. 

 

Q: Is a diet of straight alfalpha and Strategy AX adequate? The alfalpha is of excellent quality. Should I be concerned about providing enough fiber?

A: Grain requirements of an individual horse vary based on the age and on the use of the horse.  If you could give me a little more detailed information I would be glad to answer your question. 

 

Q: I was wondering what I should feed my 8 year old quarterhorse that will be in foal next. She foundered about four years ago. I was feeding her three laps of hay morning and night, four cups of grain morning and night. Also, she grazes on a small amount of grass. She is an easy keeper and gains weight quickly. Will I still be able to ride her while she is in foal? I was riding her very lightly at the walk and trot. 

A: Please begin to prepare your horse and her foal before the foal is born.  Supplement her feed with minerals, which have the proper calcium, phosphor ratio of 5:1.  When you say she is an easy keeper, then you must adjust, on a weekly basis, more or less depending on how her shape looks.  To answer your question regarding riding, yes it is good for the horse to partake in exercise daily.  It will also make her foaling easier.  Continue to ride her up until she is ready to foal.  I always recommend that owners prepare their mare before breeding and during the pregnancy, to assure that a healthy foal is born with no deformities.  

 

Q: Oat supplementation: I have a 650 lb. yearling and a 850 lb. two year old warmbloods I feed identically. They get 4 lbs. premium quality oats, 10 oz. Purina Equimin, about 2 oz. Biofos (calcium/phosphorus 21) as well as about 15-20 lbs. Timothy hay or 10-12 hours grazing per day. Is this adequate?

A:  Sorry that I must repeat myself again.  My position is that not one nutrition expert can tell you exactly how much you should feed your horse.  I can only tell you how much your horse needs.  According to the National Research Centre the following are general guidelines as to the nutritional needs of young horses in the early growth stages.  Please note that the following is the "minimum" daily requirement that is not to say that you cannot feed more, which I would highly recommend.  Don't worry about feeding more than the body can absorb, as the body with dispose of any excess nutrients not needed.

 

National Research Council (NRC) minimum daily requirements are:

Protein

grams

965

Lysine

grams

40

Dig. Energy

Mcal

19.3

Calcium

grams

34.2

Phosphorus

grams

18.3

Copper

mg

67

Zinc

mg

267

Selenium

mg

1.3

Vit A

IU

14000

Vit D

IU

5400

Vit E

IU

535

 

Regarding your feeding of oats, you must figure out by yourself the pounds of oats per individual horse, whether you need to increase or decrease the amount that you feed, this can be seen by the physical condition of the horse.  Like humans, each individual horse has its own metabolic rate.  Regarding the Purina feed, they sound to be reasonable; perhaps you could find another effective product for raising young horses.  The 2 oz. Biofos, you mention the number 21, or do you mean it has a ratio of 2 :1, calcium : phosphorus.   This is to my opinion insufficient.  You need a mineral supplement with a 5 : 1 ratio of c:p to increase the calcium which is missing in the oats and hay.   Regarding your hay feeding, after the horses return from paddocks to the stalls do you not feed any more hay?  I would recommend that you feed the same amount of hay overnight, as horses need to eat and be kept busy 24 hours per day.  

 

Q: I have a friend who gives her horse apple cider vinegar. Can you tell me what this would be good for?

A:  Yes, many horse owners give their horses apple cider vinegar.  They seem to think that this will make their horses drink more water, when in fact the horse is really in need of electrolytes and minerals to balance their mineral intake.  This is an inexpensive way to solve a problem, but in the long run will create more health issues in your horse. I personally do not recommend this treatment. 

 

Q: My 6 year old gelding has been chewing wood and bark off of the trees in his pasture. Does he need supplements?

A: What your horse is doing is fairly normal behavior for horses that are wild or let out to pasture where there are trees and bushes around. When a horse does this, it is a sign that he is missing something nutritional in
his body. To avoid this chewing and peeling off the bark of the trees, either eliminate the trees, or fence them in. Also supplementing with a good mineral stone or a mineral supplement would greatly help your horse to feel better. Try looking for a mineral supplement with a C:P ratio of 5:1.
 

 

Q: Is it possible to have too much iron or other minerals in well water for horses? What is the maximum nontoxic level for iron?

A: To my knowledge everything, which can be seen with the naked eye, will not harm your horse, and will not be absorbed in the horse's system. The reason for this is that the molecules are too big and are not water-soluble. I have seen water troughs where the iron has settled on the bottom up to an inch. Horses are still drinking water from these troughs. In other situations horses, which are offered municipal water, many times refuse to drink this water (with has been purified with chlorine/chloride) and actually go to a dirty watering hole to enjoy a good drink of water. 

 

Q: What information can you give on the prevention of Coprophagy in my gelding? What vitamin or mineral is he missing?

A: Coprophagy, meaning the ingestion of manure is common by fresh born foals so that they can build up a good intestinal flora (bacteria). Older horses with this bad habit have a definite deficiency of minerals. You can ask your veterinarian to do a blood evaluation and then you will be able to diagnose which minerals are missing. To speed up and restore the good bacteria in his digestive system, I can recommend that you feed him for 4 to 6 weeks, a product which I have used personally with our horses, called Topfit Paciflor. After this continue to supplement with an excellent vitamin & mineral supplement, your horse should then be doing fine. 

 

Q: We have 5 horses, ages are (G)25, (G)19, (M)10, (M)9, (G)4. We feed the older 2-3 flakes of alfalfa hay twice a day. The others get two flakes twice a day each. In addition to this, they all get 1/2 - 3/4 gallon of oats, 1 1/2 cups of Sweet Feed, 1/3 cup dry bran, 2 tbsp vitamins A, D, E crumbles and two of them get additional herbs called Serenity and Breathe. With this in the winter, we mix in 1/2 cup of corn oil. I have been told by our trainer that my 4 year old may have a selenium deficiency. Could you tell me how I would check for this?

A: To answer your question on how to check for selenium deficiencies contact your vet to have blood work done on your horse to see if there is a deficiency or low blood count.  If you do not wish to spend money on this, I can suggest a few practical recommendations.  Firstly, your five horses, all of different ages, you must treat and feed them all individually.  With regards to your hay feeding, it is probably sufficient for your older horse, but the others should get between 4-6 flakes twice a day.

In general, your grain feeding sounds OK, perhaps the younger ones in training/competition could get more oats.  The vitamins you are supplementing seem to be on the low side.  I recommend, to my European background, that you feed a minimum to 3-6 oz. (100-200 gr.)  of a good quality Vitamins & Minerals per day.  According to what you are currently feeding, I notice that all feedings are low in calcium.  You should adjust by adding a supplement with a calcium: phosphorus ratio of 5:1.

 The additional herbs you are feeding are acceptable, but I would recommend that you do some research and find something better.  Please feel free to contact me if you need help with this.

With regards to your corn oil feeding, I do not agree with feeding this to horses, as it is difficult for horses to digest this.  Oils that are more readily digested by horses and more beneficial are Linseed, sunflower, wheatgerm and herb oils.  The key to the feeding of oils, is the method with which they are processed.  Cold pressed being the best. 

 

Q: I have a 10 year old QH who is ridden lightly, 1-2 times per week. He is turned out 12 hours a day and put up at night. He is fed half of a big metal coffee can full of crimped oats and one flake of alfalfa at night. I do give him one flake orchard grass in the morning during the winter. Is this feed sufficient or too much? I have been told I shouldn't feed him the alfalfa, but he seems to be doing fine, although he is a bit fat from under work. What do you suggest?

A: What you are feeding your 10 year old QH sounds sufficient.  Grain requirements of an individual horse vary based on age and on the use of the horse.  Since your horse is only ridden lightly, you can reduce the oat feeding.  But please add 3-5 oz. (100-150 gr.) of a good quality mineral, so that the horse's digestive system improves.  This amount of minerals is required to supply your horse with the daily requirement of sodium, calcium and magnesium that he needs to keep him healthy and fit.

The flake in the morning is fine.  I suggest that in the evening, when he is put up in the stall that you supply him with a minimum 1/2 square bail of hay to keep him occupied during the night.  I would stay with the orchard hay, as the horse is not that active, there is no reason to increase his protein by feeding him high protein alfalfa.   

 

Q: How long do the mare and foal need to be separated during weaning, before I can pasture them back together?

A: Since I have been in the horse breeding industry for many years, I have weaned hundreds of foals.  Each weaning is different.  Firstly, the age of the foal when you are weaning is a key factor.  I always recommend that you wean a foal not before the age of 5-6 months.  This makes it easier for the foal to walk away from the mare.  It would be nice and convenient for the foal if you have an older gelding, or mare available as a companion.

It would be easier, if at all possible, to move either the mare or the foal to another stable area.  It can take up to at least 6 months separation before you can pasture them back together again.  I have seen foals weaned after 3 months, and when they come together again with the mare, she begins to call the foal to her and starts producing milk again. 

 

Q: My 11 year old thoroughbred gelding suffers severe swelling of the glands behind his cheeks after grazing in the field. An experienced owner suggested that this is a grass allergy to which TB's are prone. The swelling subsides in 2-3 hours. Do some TB's have a grass allergy?

A: If I knew his feeding program, I could answer your question more thoroughly. It sounds as if there could be a deficiency of iron and also the chemical reaction in your horse is not functioning properly.  Firstly, send your horse out to pasture after he has eaten some grain and hay.  If you are feeding lots of manufactured horse feed, with a high percentage of animal by products and sweet feed, this can also cause the reaction you describe.  If this is the case, when making changes to his feeding program, do so very slowly over a period of two weeks or so. 

 

Q: I have a 29-year-old Pinto mare. She has been on pasture. In the winter, she gets bagged chopped forage. She now eats 6 pounds of extruded complete pellets a day (3 feedings a day). I am not currently adding supplements. What do you suggest? I am considering cubed hay products. Should I stay away from alfalfa (high protein). Her blood work was normal last year.

A:  Congratulations for your excellent care of such a healthy old horse.  It sounds like she is in good condition, so don't make any radical changes to her feeding program.  You could add a good vitamin & mineral supplement at this age.   I would still recommend that you feed her good clean, dry, mold free grass hay, as much as she likes, and stay away from alfalfa, as she probably doesn't need the high protein.

Old horses sometimes do not drink enough water.  You can do your horse a big favor and install a large heated water bucket in her stall during the cold winter months.  

 

Q: Horse in stable with run is eating its own apple droppings, and most all of it.

A:  When a horse has such a behavior, there are 2 main reasons.  The horse does not get enough feed/roughage or the mineral balance of the horse is totally out of line.  If you could let me know the feeding program of this horse, then I might be able to answer your question. 

 

Q: My horse is eating wood from the 2x4's on her shelter. Is there something I can put on it so she will stop or is she missing something from her diet that I need to add?

A: The behavior of your horse can be caused by many different reasons.  Firstly, the horse can be unhappy, due to inactivity, lonely, bored and no companionship.  You neglected to let me know what her diet consists of.  To stop her from eating her shelter, I would recommend that you always have either hay available at all times in her stall, or allow her to go out to graze.  It is always good to supplement your horse's diet with a good natural vitamin and mineral supplement.  

 

Q: I would like to plant my upper pasture in an annual ryegrass to give the horses more to eat. Is there anything wrong with them eating ryegrass?

A:   As far as I know, ryegrass is not harmful for horses.  This type of grass is mostly used in hay fields which grow very well on high and dry land.  

 

Q: What would be the proper diet for a 750 lb. yearling colt and 500 lb. weanling colt?

A:  I would recommend that you feed your colt 8-10 lbs. of oats and 3-4 lbs. mixed grain per day, 90-120 gr. (3-4 oz.) top quality mineral supplement plus a mineral stone in his stall, and have fresh water and hay, or grazing available at all times of the day.

For the weanling colt, feed 6-8 lbs. of oats and 2-3 lbs. mixed grain, 90-120 gr. (3-4 oz.) top quality mineral supplement plus a mineral stone in his stall.  Fresh water and fresh hay available all day.

These are only recommendations, because I take the position that no one can tell you exactly how much energy your horse needs.   I have handled this my entire life, "the eye of the owner feeds the horse".  You must make adjustments all the time because each horse is individual in his/her feeding and reacts differently to his/her condition.

If you have any more questions regarding the feeding of your colts, please write again with more information, including type of horse and surroundings.  

 

Q: What are feeding guidelines for a horse diagnosed with partial malabsorption?

A: To my practical experience, a horse, which is diagnosed with this problem, is what we call a "hard keeper". There are different reasons for calling a horse a hard keeper. For both young and older horses the main reason being that they were feed incorrectly during the growing stage. I would recommend that you let me know what you are feeding your horse at the moment. With this information I would be in a position to make further suggestions to help your horse improve. 

 

Q: I have been feeding free choice barley-straw with limited amounts of alfalfa hay each day. My horses range from two years old to twenty years old. What is your opinion about feeding straw to horses?

A: Feeding straw to horses is a good choice, to entertain and keep horses happy and also to keep the digestive system active at all times. My horses stand knee high in wheat straw and they can eat as much as they like, along with their daily ration of hay, oats plus additional natural supplements. I am not a supporter of using any other type of straw other than wheat straw for bedding and feeding. Other varieties of straw may cause horses to colic or founder. 

 

Q: When can I expect my young (2 1/2 year) warm blood cross to stop growing?

A: There are no rules or regulations when it comes to how long it will take for a young horse to reach maturity and to finish growing. An average horse will reach their regular height at the age of 18-22 months, but most horses may still grow an inch or so to the age of 5 or 6. 

 

Q: I have been told that if I am feeding decent hay and giving a feed such as a junior or a senior type formula, I should not supplement for doing so can take the diet out of balance. Is this correct thinking?

A: To my experience and knowledge, most types of formulas for horses, which are manufactured in North America, do not supply sufficient natural vitamins and minerals. Take a look at the ingredient listing on your package of formula. If you can find a calcium : phosphorus ratio of 5:1 this would be most beneficial for your horse's well being. Also make sure that there are no by-products or filler in the formula. 

 

Q: Is it harmful to have African geese around horses, their stable, or their food?

A:  Yes.  Horses and any type of fowl do not mix.  Fowl carry too many different types of parasites, which would be harmful to your horses. 

 

Q: My paint has fungus problems which causes him to lose his hair. Does this point to a problem in nutrition?

A:  The loss of hair is usually not a nutritional problem, it is mostly due to a cleanliness problem.  (stall, tack, brushes, blankets etc.)  To resolve your problem I suggest you bath your horse using a shampoo containing a high dose of tea tree oil or a comparable product on the market. 

 

Q: I have a 21 year old mare that just foaled her first baby. The colt died at 4 days as he was dysmature. It is believed this was due to diet. I am thinking of breeding this mare again, but want to make sure I feed her properly. She was in good weight and condition. She received alfalfa hay, cob mix, and vitamin/mineral supplement. She gets laminitis easily so has no access to pasture of any kind. My vet recommended using one of the commercially available broodmare diets, like Equus 2 (developed by Dr. Steve Jackson of Blue Grass Equine Nutrition). I already started her on Equus 5 (senior feed).

My question is: These diets are designed to be fed along with "free choice quality forage." I live in Central California and can only buy alfalfa and oat hay here - timothy hay is not available. Would you recommend oat hay over alfalfa with the prepared diet? Is there a commercially-prepared forage substitute that would work well (hay cubes, etc.)? Do you have a broodmare nutrition table that I could follow which would help me balance the ration if I have my hay tested?

A:  Thank you very much for asking my opinion, after reading your history and question.  After 40 years of breeding my own horses, I cannot agree with you that you breed the horse for the first time, and that you wish to continue to breed this horse after the first failure.  (Please compare horse age to human age.  An 80-year-old human being can no longer have a healthy baby either.)  The second reason being that I would not recommend breeding again because you have insufficient grassland available to raise and maintain a healthy mare and foal. 

 

Q: What kind of grain can I feed my 11 year old Arab mare that will not make her hyper (she is too thin)? She is currently fed 6 flakes of grass hay and 1 pound of sweet feed with a vitamin/weight gain supplement twice per day, but she is too "wired".

A:   Feed your horse a couple of pounds of good quality oats with a vitamin and mineral supplement twice a day.  Also, double the amount of hay per day, then you should see an improvement in your horses weight and in her behavior.   Hopefully your mare is able to go out to graze for a few hours a day and has other exercise.  Please remember that oats do not make hyper horses. 

 

Q: I have a 13 year old quarterhorse gelding who is severely overweight and showing signs of foundering in his front two feet. I was wondering if you have any suggestions on how I can effectively get his weight down and keep it down?

A:   For me to answer your question is almost impossible.  I need more information, ie. the daily routine of this horse, and the feeding program you are currently following. 

 

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