Interesting articles

Common Feeding Mistakes

(February 06, 2008)

Common Feeding Mistakes

1) Corn Oil or other Oil Supplements

Corn oil was marketed to the equine industry for shiny coats. Horses don't have a gall bladder so excess oils are excreted through the skin, making the coat glisten. Other oils are marketed for horses for Omega 3's. Be careful with any oil supplementation. We know of only one fish-eating horse - the Icelandic. Rancidity is a common problem in oils that are on the market.

2) High Ratio of Alfalfa in the Diet

Protein levels are too high in alfalfa for its use as a primary forage. It is found in small amounts in supplements due to its high concentration of vitamins and minerals. Kidney scratches may result from feeding too much alfalfa. There is a high ratio of calcium in alfalfa which can cause "tying up". Too much calcium will also block absorption of other minerals like magnesium, zinc and copper. Grass hay is high in silica which is necessary for bone and connective tissue. Alfalfa is low in fiber that is necessary for equine digestion.

3) Beet Pulp

Mountains of unusable waste from the beet industry were marketed to the equine feed industry for weight gain. The gains in weight appear to be mostly water weight, it is lost quickly when the horse discontinues it. Water is retained when the body attempts to dilute a toxic substance.

4) Preservatives

Many feeds including Equine Senior feeds are preserved with Ethoxyquin, a rubber preservative or BHA, BHT or formaldehyde. Preservatives may create undue stress on the liver. The Dynamite Feed mill uses only natural preservatives vitamin E and C.

5) Rice Bran

Another agricultural waste product from one of the most heavily pesticided crops foisted off on the horse feed industry.

6) Unbalanced Mineral Supplementation

Feed companies learned to add copper in their feeds to boost color in the horses coat. A little copper in cases of deficiency is great and will improve coat quality. However, boosting one mineral alone will suppress other minerals essential for equine physiology.

7) Minerals In Non Available forms

Minerals in ionic form are not easily assimilated by horses. Salt blocks are hard on a horse's tongue (look at the difference between a cow and a horse tongue) and contain urea which a horse cannot process. Look for minerals that are more bio-available such as amino-acid chelated. Some raw minerals are useful along with the bio-available version, but here again, balance is important between the various minerals. Of the inorganic minerals, oxides are least available sulfates better and carbonates are most available.

8) Sweet Feed

Adding a little organic blackstrap molasses to encourage a horse with a poor appetite may be OK. The addition of a molasses product to a bagged feed increases the requirements for preservatives. Just as with kids, too much sugar can create behavior problems in horses.

9) Feeding Grain "Products"

Wouldn't you rather see corn, oats, or barley on the feed label instead of "grain products", wheat middlings, grain by-products, or roughage products?

10) High Protein Diets

Horses should not be fed over 12% protein at any time in their lives. Excess protein can cause lots of problems and can result in systemic acidosis. Thyroid problems, colic, arthritis and joint problems in young horses can be a result of diets too high in protein.

Click here to return to the News page