What’s in Your Horse’s Feed?
- December 30, 2016
- Jenn Zeller
This week, we cover some important information regarding what’s in your horse’s feed. I was fortunate enough to meet Jessica Drexler*, with Triple Crown Feed, at a barrel race this past fall, and she was kind enough to answer a few questions not only about their feed, but about feeding horses in general.
What is the most important element in a feed program?
The availability of high quality forage and access to water will always be the most important needs. When adding additional feeds, I think it is very important to provide the right feed(s) for your horse’s needs, in the correct amount so that you supply your horse with the essential nutrients needed to keep them healthy. It is important to look at the quality of the ingredients in the feed. The ingredients that make up a feed are not created equal.
Are Horses designed to eat grains? Or is plant matter better?
A horse’s main diet must be a high fiber source (hay or pasture) at a minimum level. Grains are added to the diet to supplement calories and protein for the most part.
Are oats considered a grain?
Yes, they are a grain. They provide a moderate amount of additional calories, and they happen to be a grain with the lowest starch and sugar content and one of the highest in fiber. Oats are most effective as an ingredient in a high quality feed, where vitamins and minerals are already properly balanced. Feeding grains separately can lead to nutrient deficiencies and imbalances. Research has shown that crimped (rolled) oats are about 5% more digestible, but cost about 5% more, so there is very little difference between them.
Why is the fat content in Triple Crown Feed so high?
Fat is a very safe calorie source for horses. High fiber feeds, like most of the Triple Crown feeds tend to be lower in calories than grain based diets. Adding the fat back in has given us some high fat options that work very well for hard keepers, hard working horses and senior horses. Many owners are able to feed a lot less of our feeds as well.
Is sugar bad for your horse? And if so, what are the ramifications of too much sugar in a feed?
There is no simple answer here. Horses need and will always have some sugar and starch in their diet. For a hard working horse, they certainly need carbohydrates to perform. Excess starch and sugar, however, could cause digestive upset such as colic or metabolic issues for some horses. Some horses are more sensitive to excess starch and sugar than others.
Carbohydrates. Please share the good/the bad/the ugly…
Again, this topic is quite complex and it really depends on the individual horse. Depending on what a horse does, such as racing or eventing, they may need higher levels of soluble carbohydrates to perform. Other horses can perform with reduced carbohydrate levels such as an endurance or pleasure horse. Then, there are horses with any number of metabolic syndrome disorders that require a low soluble carbohydrate diet. We feel moderating soluble carbohydrate levels to that of hay might be a better alternative than grain based diets that may be double or triple the amount.
You probably hear, “My horse doesn’t have any problems… Why should I feed your feed?”
We feed all types of horses, but we certainly have helped owners with horses who were known as “the problem horse”. Whether that problem was a hard keeper, a senior horse with no teeth, a horse with metabolic issues or a very easy keeper, we have an answer for these issues. When asked why our feed is better, we are happy to explain the unique digestive aids found only in our feed and we encourage horse owners to compare their feed brand to Triple Crown, check out our comparison page at: http://www.triplecrownfeed.com/compare.
Do horses really need pre-and probiotics? Horses in the wild don’t get them and they survive.
Horses in the wild are lucky to make it out of their teens, while domesticated horses are living well into their late 20s, 30s and even 40s. This is certainly helped by the veterinary care and nutrition they receive. On the other hand, domestic horses also face very different lifestyles than the wild horse – with the everyday life of working, showing, trailering and stabling. Additional probiotics and prebiotics can be very beneficial for the digestive system to help in maintaining a healthy horse and coping with stress of the domesticated lifestyle.
What is a Prebiotic?
The base for most prebiotics is yeast and the most common prebiotic is a yeast metabolite. Yeast metabolites are non-digestible carbohydrates that make it through the stomach and small intestine to help feed and maintain a healthy microbial population in the hind-gut of horses.
I hope you learned something in the course of this interview.
Jessica Drexler is the Community Manager for Triple Crown Nutrition. She is responsible for driving overall brand awareness, engagement, and conversation through social media initiatives. Jessica is also responsible for managing Triple Crown’s website, online chat, and blog. Jessica also works directly with customers in Minnesota, attends trade shows, and other customer functions on Triple Crown’s behalf.
About Jenn Zeller
Jenn Zeller is the creative mind and boss lady behind The South Dakota Cowgirl. She is an aspiring horsewoman, photographer, brilliant social media strategist and lover of all things western. After a brief career in the investment world to support her horse habit (and satisfy her...