10 Guidelines for Smarter Equine Feeding Strategies


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SmartPak Equine experts share their top priorities for a healthy feeding strategy for your horse. Come take a look! (audio portion is available too at SmartPak.com/Webinars)

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  • Colic, gastric ulcers, hindgut acidosis, laminitis, wood chewing, behavior issues
  • Talking point: weigh your hay
  • According to the NRC*, an adult horse in moderate work generally needs 768g of crude protein, or about 8% of the diet. Growing horses, pregnant and nursing mares, and senior horses need more. Also, it’s important to understand quality vs quantity when it comes to protein.
  • 10 Guidelines for Smarter Equine Feeding Strategies

    1. 1. 10 Guidelines for Smarter Feeding Lydia F. Gray, DVM, MA Medical Director/Staff Veterinarian Jessica Normand Senior Director – SmartSupplements™ February 21, 2012
    2. 2. Your Presenters SmartPak.com
    3. 3. Resource for this Webinar SmartPak.com
    4. 4. Agenda <ul><li>Born to Graze </li></ul><ul><li>Ensure Adequate Vitamins and Minerals </li></ul><ul><li>Understanding Protein’s Place </li></ul><ul><li>Avoid the “Sugar High” </li></ul><ul><li>More Omega 3s, Less Omega 6s </li></ul><ul><li>Please Pass the Salt </li></ul><ul><li>Do Digestive Duty </li></ul><ul><li>Know the Score </li></ul><ul><li>Make Feed Changes Gradually </li></ul><ul><li>Supplements are One Piece of the Puzzle </li></ul>SmartPak.com
    5. 5. Guideline #1: Born to Graze <ul><li>The Problem: </li></ul><ul><li>Horses were designed to graze for the majority of the day, but this is not always practical for modern horse-keeping </li></ul><ul><li>Horses need 1-2% of their body weight in forage per day, but sometimes they are fed too much grain and too little hay </li></ul><ul><li>Horses that don’t get enough long stem roughage are at greater risk for digestive disorders, stable vices, and other health issues </li></ul>SmartPak.com
    6. 6. Guideline #1: Born to Graze <ul><li>The Solution: </li></ul><ul><li>Ideal </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Offer pasture turnout if possible </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Next Best </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Feed grass hay free choice </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Alternatives </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Feed grass hay as frequently as possible </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use a small hole hay net to slow down hay eating </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Consider specialized feeders designed to slow down hay eating </li></ul></ul>SmartPak.com The Natural Feeder® www.TheNaturalFeeder.com
    7. 7. Guideline #2: Ensure Adequate Vitamins and Minerals <ul><li>The Problem: </li></ul><ul><li>“ Horses need to graze for approximately 17 hours daily to meet their nutritional needs.” - NRC </li></ul><ul><li>In our survey of horse owners, 7 out of 10 horses aren’t getting enough vitamins and minerals from their serving of fortified grain </li></ul>SmartPak.com
    8. 8. Understanding Commercial Feeds SmartPak.com <ul><li>Complete Feeds </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Provide: Vitamins, Minerals, Protein, Energy, Fiber </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Often labeled “senior” feed </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Full serving size is typically 15-20 lbs </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Fortified Grain </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Provide: Vitamins, Minerals, Protein, Energy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Most common type of grain fed (think of most pellets and sweet feeds) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Full serving size is typically 6-9 lbs </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Ration Balancer </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Provide: Vitamins, Minerals, Protein </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Some feed companies refer to pelleted products as supplements </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Full serving size is typically 1-2 lbs </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Vitamin/Mineral Supplement (“Multi-Vitamin”) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Provide: Vitamins, Minerals (may also provide some essentially amino acids) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Full serving size is typically 1-3 oz. </li></ul></ul>
    9. 9. Understanding Commercial Feeds SmartPak.com Vitamin/Mineral Supplement
    10. 10. Guideline #2: Ensure Adequate Vitamins and Minerals <ul><li>The Solution: </li></ul><ul><li>Step 1 : Read your horse’s feed label </li></ul><ul><li>Step 2 : Weigh your horse’s grain serving </li></ul><ul><li>Step 3 : Determine the best product(s) to meet your horse’s needs </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Complete Feed </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fortified Grain </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ration Balancer </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>and/or Vitamin/Mineral Supplement </li></ul></ul>
    11. 11. Guideline #3: Understanding Protein’s Place <ul><li>The Problem: </li></ul><ul><li>Protein is not the body’s preferred source of energy; it is used primarily to make tissue </li></ul><ul><li>Dietary protein is probably not what is making your horse hot </li></ul><ul><li>Instead of focusing on the percent crude protein (quantity) in your horse’s diet, pay attention to the quality </li></ul>SmartPak.com
    12. 12. Guideline #3: Understanding Protein’s Place <ul><li>The Solution: </li></ul><ul><li>If your horse needs an additional source of quality protein, consider feeding an amino acid supplement </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Poor quality hay or pasture </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Less than a full serving of fortified grain/complete feed </li></ul></ul>SmartPak.com
    13. 13. Guideline #4: Avoid the “Sugar High” <ul><li>The Problem: </li></ul><ul><li>Typical commercial grains may contain as much as 30-50% starch! </li></ul><ul><li>Excess sugars and starches aren’t good for any horse because: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>They increase the risk of problems like colic, gastric ulcers, hindgut acidosis and laminitis </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>They adversely affect energy level and behavior (they can make horses “hot”, nervous, excitable, etc.) </li></ul></ul>SmartPak.com
    14. 14. Guideline #4: Avoid the “Sugar High” <ul><li>The Solution: </li></ul><ul><li>Limit sugars and starches in your horse’s diet by: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Only feeding the minimum amount of grain (if any) your horse needs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Choosing a low starch commercial feed, if grain is necessary </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Not feeding more than 0.5% of body weight in grain at a single meal </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Understand Non-Structural Carbohydrates (NSC) </li></ul>
    15. 15. SmartPak.com Note: if you have an easy keeper with a metabolic disorder, please visit SmartPak.com/Webinars to view our Understanding Equine Metabolic Disorders webinar. Common Sources of Sugars & Starches Source Worth worrying about? What to do? Grain Yes <ul><li>Feed the minimum amount needed, if any, for body condition and energy </li></ul><ul><li>Feed grain in multiple, small meals (minimum of 2x per day) </li></ul>Hay Maybe <ul><li>If your horse is an easy keeper/has a metabolic disorder , you may need to find low NSC hay and we also recommend soaking hay to remove sugars </li></ul>Pasture Probably <ul><li>If your horse is an easy keeper/has a metabolic disorder , you should use a grazing muzzle or avoid pasture altogether (if dry lot turnout is available) </li></ul><ul><li>Note that sugar content of pasture fluctuates throughout the day </li></ul>Supplements Maybe <ul><li>When possible choose supplements that don’t contain added sugar </li></ul><ul><li>However, keep in mind that a daily serving of a supplement is a very small percentage of your horse’s total diet </li></ul>Treats Maybe <ul><li>Treats without added sugar are healthiest </li></ul><ul><li>However, unless your horse has a metabolic problem, don’t lose sleep about feeding sugary treats in moderation </li></ul>
    16. 16. Guideline #5: More Omega 3s, Less Omega 6s <ul><li>The Problem: </li></ul><ul><li>Omega 3 fatty acids are considered anti-inflammatory </li></ul><ul><li>Omega 6 fatty acids are considered pro-inflammatory </li></ul><ul><li>Horses should have 2-4 times more Omega 3s than Omega 6s </li></ul><ul><li>But modern horse-keeping means most horses have an inverted ratio of far too many 6s and not enough 3s, because: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Lack of pasture </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A grain-based diet </li></ul></ul>
    17. 17. Omega 6 to Omega 3 Ratios SmartPak.com Feed Type Omega 6:Omega 3 Sunflower Oil 199:1  Corn Oil 87:1  Whole Grains (oats, corn, barley, wheat, rice) 24:1  Commercial Fortified Grain 8:1  Canola Oil 3:1 Flax Seed 1:4  Chia Seed 1:3  Pasture 1:5  Fish Oil Virtually all Omega 3s  (and a source of DHA & EPA)
    18. 18. Guideline #5: More Omega 3s, Less Omega 6s <ul><li>Feed an Omega 3 supplement in order to attain the ideal ratio of 2-4 times more Omega 3s than 6s </li></ul><ul><li>Supplement with Fish Oil, Flax Seed and/or Chia Seed </li></ul>SmartPak.com
    19. 19. Guideline #6: Please Pass the Salt <ul><li>The Problem: </li></ul><ul><li>A salt block alone may not meet your horse’s sodium requirements </li></ul><ul><li>Forages and commercial feeds are very low in sodium </li></ul><ul><li>Horses require 25 g (~1 oz.) of salt per day for maintenance alone! </li></ul><ul><li>Horses not getting enough salt may not drink enough water </li></ul>SmartPak.com
    20. 20. Guideline #6: Please Pass the Salt <ul><li>The Solution: </li></ul><ul><li>Add a daily serving of sodium to your horses diet by: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Top-dressing his grain with plain salt </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Or top-dressing his grain with an electrolyte supplement that is a significant source of salt </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Additionally, consider providing a natural salt lick instead of a pressed salt block </li></ul></ul>SmartPak.com
    21. 21. Guideline #7: Do Digestive Duty <ul><li>The Problem: </li></ul><ul><li>Most horses don’t have the ideal diet and lifestyle for digestive health – common problems include: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Colic </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Diarrhea </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Gastric Ulcers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Colonic Ulcers </li></ul></ul>SmartPak.com
    22. 22. Guideline #7: Do Digestive Duty <ul><li>The Solution: </li></ul><ul><li>Digestion Supplements </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Look for these ingredients: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Probiotics </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Prebiotics </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Yeast </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Psyllium </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Enzymes </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Amino Acids </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Herbs </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Other specialized ingredients </li></ul></ul></ul>Visit SmartPak.com/Webinars to view our in-depth Ulcer and Digestive Health webinars
    23. 23. Guideline #8: Know the Score <ul><li>The Problem: </li></ul><ul><li>In a recent study, more than half the horses were overweight or obese </li></ul><ul><li>It is important to learn how to recognize what an ideal weight looks and feels like </li></ul>Body Condition Scoring: A system for estimating fat cover over 6 different body areas to develop a single score for overall condition; ranges 1 - 9
    24. 24. Body Condition Score: 4 (Moderately Thin) SmartPak.com
    25. 25. Body Condition Score: 5 (Moderate) SmartPak.com
    26. 26. Body Condition Score: 8 (Fat) SmartPak.com
    27. 27. Guideline #8: Know the Score <ul><li>The Solution: </li></ul><ul><li>Learn how to Body Condition Score your horse </li></ul><ul><li>Use this technique and your horse’s energy level to know if he needs less calories, more calories or is doing well on his current diet and workload </li></ul>SmartPak.com
    28. 28. Guideline #9: Make Feed Transitions Gradually <ul><li>The Problem: </li></ul><ul><li>“ Changes in diet (particularly in the type of hay fed) contribute to an increased risk of colic.” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Change in hay increased the risk of colic ten times! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Recent diet change (other than hay) increased risk 5 times </li></ul></ul>SmartPak.com Dietary and Other Management Factors Associated with Equine Colic -Noah Cohen, Pete Gibbs, and April Woods, AAEP Proceedings, 1999, Vol. 45, pp 96-98
    29. 29. Guideline #9: Make Feed Transitions Gradually <ul><li>The Solution: </li></ul><ul><li>When possible, take two weeks to switch a horse to a new hay, pasture or grain </li></ul><ul><li>If you can’t control these changes at your barn, keep your horse on a daily digestive supplement! </li></ul>SmartPak.com
    30. 30. Guideline #10: Supplements are One Piece of the Puzzle SmartPak.com Supplements Grain Other Mgt Forage
    31. 31. Questions & Answers SmartPak.com
    32. 32. Questions <ul><li>1. Wild horses don't naturally consume any grains, right? So I understand from a digestive perspective, that a forage-only diet is best. However, I worry that if I stop feeding grain that grazing and hay alone won't be enough to meet my horses’ nutritional requirements. </li></ul><ul><li>2. What vitamins/minerals do we need to be concerned about oversupplementing? Selenium, vitamins A and E, anything else? </li></ul><ul><li>3. What is the best thing to do if you can't feed a horse grain more than twice a day? </li></ul><ul><li>4. Do horses like a specific feeding routine and time every day? </li></ul><ul><li>5. What feeds do you recommend for my horse that tends to have ulcer/gas colic problems in the spring/summer? She is pasture boarded and she is currently on a low starch feed that does not contain any grain. </li></ul><ul><li>6. What does feeding a big (whole small bucket full) bucket of grain to a horse at one time do to the horse exactly? </li></ul><ul><li>  7. Some people say it's bad to feed dry beet pulp to horses, and others say it's fine as long as you don't feed too much. What are the rules for feeding beet pulp? /Is feeding shredded beet pulp beneficial in keeping weight on hard keepers during the winter? </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul>SmartPak.com
    33. 33. Questions <ul><li>8. What protein % level should you be feeding for a heavily worked eventing horse? </li></ul><ul><li>9. What do you feel the benefits of flax seed are and do you recommend feeding it daily? </li></ul><ul><li>10. What makes molasses with some folks such a bad thing? </li></ul><ul><li>11. What added nutrients/nutrition do field horses need when grass growth is poor in the pasture? </li></ul><ul><li>We have 2 Gypsy fillies and have had conflicting advice on proper nutrition. Because they are easy keepers, some say feed a hay-only diet, whereas the barn where we board them feeds them twice daily (a 10,10,10 feed) in addition to hay--what is right? </li></ul><ul><li>13. Not really sure how/what to feed my 20mnth Arab gelding. Bought him undernourished 6 months ago, feed him good coastal Bermuda hay, 5 lbs 14% pelleted feed, half pound sweet feed(dessert)w/powdered minerals and 2lb alfalfa cubes. He's growing/looks great . </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul>SmartPak.com
    34. 34. Questions <ul><li>14. My animals are a variety of ages, four are founder prone. I'd like to hear about managing a herd of many individuals without being told to stable them and separate them individually. We're in the country, my barn and pasture and corrals don't quite separate.  </li></ul><ul><li>My 4-year-old Quarter horse has 2 acres of free grazing on coastal Bermuda and I give her at least one square of good quality coastal hay daily. Is it necessary to feed her pelleted feed exactly as prescribed on the bag? </li></ul><ul><li>16. Is there cause for concern if a horse loses some weight over the winter when she is still eating very well, not overworked and her teeth and general health are good? </li></ul><ul><li>17. Is it necessary to feed all throughout the day (for weight gain, nutrient, and stomach issues?) Most places only feed two times a day, morning and night. </li></ul><ul><li>18. I would like to know how to get a good top line without getting a fat horse or a large hay belly. My horse won't eat more grain than what she gets now, she just leaves it in her bucket or dumps it out. </li></ul><ul><li>19. I need to know how to manage my horses' weight. I feel like they are easy keepers. I feed a 'complete feed' plus SmartPak's SmartHoof plus hay forage or pasture. Parasites are not an issue. </li></ul>SmartPak.com
    35. 35. Questions <ul><li>20. I have a six yo TB who is a very hard keeper.I have tried numerous grains high in fat, but this seems to make him hot/spooky.He is currently on one and a half scoops Endurance 11:8 by Poulin and 2 scoops beet pulp with soy oil am/pm 20lbs hay daily </li></ul><ul><li>21. I have 1 horse who is a reining horse he needs alot of food to keep in shape but if you give him more than 4 or 5 qu. of grain a day he gets unmanageable, but he need the equivalent of 15 qu. a day to keep in shape. What else would you feed him? </li></ul><ul><li>22. What supplement and how much to help my Arabian gelding perform without making him too &quot;hot&quot;? </li></ul><ul><li>23. How to avoid over supplementing for your pleasure horse (worked 2-5 times a week) and how to know what you need. </li></ul><ul><li>24. How do you feel about the Freedom Feeder small mesh hay nets offering 24 hour grazing? Can food driven horses actually acclimate to these? </li></ul><ul><li>25. Growing up everyone in my area fed their horses alfalfa, now most say not to. Horse owners, breeders, some vets say alfalfa will blow out horses kidneys, make them hot & high, unmanageable. I choose to feed it in the am, comments ?? </li></ul>SmartPak.com
    36. 36. <ul><li>Thank you for attending our Webinar! </li></ul><ul><li>Please visit us at </li></ul><ul><li>SmartPak.com </li></ul><ul><li>Or call us at 1-800-461-8898 if we can answer any further questions. </li></ul><ul><li>~ Your Friends at SmartPak </li></ul>SmartPak.com