Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Meeting with an Equine Nutritionist

OK so today Tuesday I think I was a little over busy.... My head has yet to stop spinning. First up was J's Baseball Double header, then Dakotah had soccer, then we had a meeting with an Equine Nutritionist through our 4H group. I'll tell you that this was right up my alley, I have spent countless hours researching the best ways to feed my horses. I am one that would rather my horse be a little over weight then under weight. So I was very interested in what she had to say, I have spoken with 2 other Equine Nutritionists in the past and I got great advice from them. So I'll tell you what I think and what I learned and maybe you guys can give me some feed back about your own feeding regimes....

So right off the bat we talked about Equine digestive system, with the fore gut and the hind gut. And the importance of each parts function, and where in the transition from front to hind is the Cecum and it absorbs the Fibers and Starches that the fore gut doesn't. The problem with most feeding regimes is that horses are over loaded with starches i.e. "sweet feed". If they consume to much sweet feed then the sugar content in their bodies is much higher than it is designed for so therefore they do not get proper digestion of the "fibers" i.e. forage. So then that leads them to be gassy... She said literally that sweet feed is NOT good... Not in any way for them because of the sugar content, then corn, and the fact that many are made with by products and many other reasons. She told us 2 things to remember; #1 read the labels of the products you buy, if it says "by product" then that means it was made with ingredients that are not suitable for "good feed" and #2 is you get what you pay for. Meaning while alot of us look at the cost of the feed we buy we would chose a cheaper route (especially if you have alot of horses) but not realizing that you can actually go with the more expensive feeds because if you purchase the right one then you can sometimes cut the amount you feed in half! Also in our feeding we all obviously use forage and they recommend that we have it tested from time to time to make sure that they are not getting to much sugar from the forage i.e. if we have had a very wet season then we are likely to have a higher sugar content. Also if we put our horses out to pasture for the summer which many of us do then we need to provide them with mineral tubs out there, and before the move out there we should implement mineral blocks about 10 days prior so that they don't go crazy on a big tub and overload themselves. it won't hurt them but it may hurt your pocketbook LOL!! I have been puzzled with this mystery for many years because you hear such conflicting stories hence the reason for my contacting Equine Nutritionists before.

Our feeding regime has always consisted of feeding Brome Hay and Alfalfa pellets. We had an old school Cowboy friend who always believed Alfalfa Pellets were the way to go and to stay away from sweet feed. I know some of your reactions will be well they need the crude fat but they can get that from other products. So we have had this feeding program for years now and our horses have always looked really good. I always liked the way we fed but then this past winter after speaking with one Nutritionist she had told me to implement the Amino Acids also. Well through some research I decided it would be better to just switch them to a product that is an Alfalfa pellet with a special blend of minerals added to them and the other important factors such as the crude fat that many worry about. I really love the feed we are using and I asked Ginger (Nutritionist) if she would compare my feed label with her product and she did and actually said that the main differences are that my feed's first make up is Alfalfa and Corn Meal while their make up is different (I can't remember right now exactly what the base was) part of it's base is wheat middlings but theirs also has yeast supplement where mine does not... But upon comparison of the labels she said we really could only cut our intake about 25% which isn't that much because what we are feeding is basically right!! I was so thrilled to hear that!! Just as thrilled as I was when I had a fecal count done on one of my geldings a couple of months ago and he had ZERO bacteria count!!! For some reason that made me happy, yes strange isn't it...It's like YEAH his poops good LOL!!

If there is anyone out there that would be interested in talking to Ginger I would be glad to get you her information. She loves to talk about this and is very passionate about getting horses fed in a manner that is good for their bodies. They even have feed designed specially for Junior horses, I will be switching all of my babies to that!!

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