So Many Varieties of Horse Feed – How Do I Know Which is the Right Grain Mixture For My Horse?

Decisions, decisions. I can understand how a person just getting started in the horse world could become confused when deciding what to feed and how much. Personally, I came from the old school of oats, corn, barley and molasses. Electrolytes, salt and a good quality hay, preferably more than one kind of hay. Usually if the horses in consideration were riding or show horses, then a good timothy and a good quality of clover hay was sufficient. Racing horses were fed the same but there was a good quality alfalfa added to the diet. Young horses from the time they were weaned, were given vitamins and different supplements with their daily grain. As young horses grow, their nutritional needs are different because of the constant developmental stages they go through, similar to those of growing children. In my experience, young horses seem to get fairly round on the corners and hold their weight well and all of a sudden they sprout up an inch or two at the withers and slim down, then they get a little round and hold their weight again, and then sprout up an inch or two and so on, seemingly until they reach about their third year. The sprouting still occurs until they reach four of five years of age, but not as often, and they become fuller.

There are many high quality mixtures of feeds on the market of which I have used in the past. Many of the companies producing the newest mixtures of feed, have been in business for years, feeding millions of horses and other animals, and they are constantly researching new and better forms of nutrition. My suggestion is to research the larger companies first. They will be happy to show you the different feed mixtures and explain what it is they have to offer. Most feed stores promoting the feed companies will ask you about your animals, what kind of horses you own, whether they have pasture and if they are being ridden, and if so, how often and how hard. There are guidelines on how to feed your horse on each bag of feed, just remember that these are suggested amounts. Time, trial and error will probably be your best teacher, but most feed stores will be able to guide you into the right direction and help you to decide on the correct amount of feed per horse, per day.

On the market are different prices of feed. The lower priced feeds of course have the lower end feed products in them and they do serve their purpose. On the other end, just because a feed is very high priced does not necessarily mean that it is the best feed for your horse. Feeds very high in protein may not be the best for horses that are not being ridden often, these feeds are more for performance horses, growing weanlings or yearlings and perhaps two and three year olds as well as broodmares but that is another episode. And, as we all know, you sometimes pay a higher price because of the brand name. Each company has the right to charge as they please, so if you find a particular mixture of feed that you like becoming a little too expensive, take a little time to compare with other name brands that are up and coming. As time goes on, and you learn more about your horse and his or her nutritional needs, you may at a later date and if you have enough horses to warrant the extra time and energy, go to a mill and design your own mixture of feed. If you run into problems with your horse not wanting to eat the feed you have chosen, you may need to upgrade or have your horses teeth floated (filing down of your horses teeth done by a professional in order to reduce sharp edges in the mouth). Follow your instincts and go with what feels right to you. If you do not get the results you are looking for, never be afraid to ask a fellow horseman. True horsemen are always willing to lend a helping hand. Doesn’t matter if it is just giving out advice or lending a working hand. Horsemen are usually very obliging.

Feeding horses is not something you should take lightly. You can damage your horse in more ways than one by feeding them too much feed or too little. You will always need to monitor the way your horses look weight wise. When feeding large amounts of horses at a time, basically the fatter horses got a little less feed and the thinner horses got a little more feed. With each breed, age of the horses, and their daily activity, comes a basic standard of daily feed. Look at your horses’ weight every single day. Look at the brightness of their coat. Look at their eyes, whether they approach their feed tub in the same manner every day, whether they are stepping as lively today as they were yesterday. If you see any changes in your horse from day to day, ask yourself why and try to figure out what things are different today in comparison to yesterday. A horse that does not go to his or her feed tub is an immediate red flag and you need to investigate and figure out what is the reason for this horse not wanting to eat. Colicing or sick horses will not eat. Remember, horses are creatures of habit. Usually horses will drink fairly soon after consuming their grain. If you keep a sharp eye on your horse or horses, you can then determine if you are giving them either too much feed or not enough. Each horse is an individual, has different metabolisms and different needs. Feeding horses too much can cost them their lives from laminitis or colic. These are very painful deaths. Feeding them too little can cause a barrage of ailments. So don’t be afraid. Be informed, be careful, be observant, and be the horseman you have always wanted to be with a little help from your friends.

Horse Supplements – What Are They and What Are the Common Misconceptions?

Much more misconceptions are related with feeding your equines as compared to feeding many other animals. This is in part due to the deficiency of current health research information and facts coupled with a large variety of horse owners who are not familiar with the essentials of horse feeding. Dietary needs will fluctuate substantially among horses dependent on individual age, weight, and levels of activity. There are no magic health supplements, great performance feed secrets and techniques or short cuts which will change any equine into a champion. Horses naturally use fodders as the major part in their diets.. Ample forages are a simple must for standard performing of the horses digestive system. This necessity for forages is most easily furnished by pasture and hay.

Diet regime, physical exercise, breeding and care are the elements that support the equine athlete. The highest levels of overall performance in working or show horses could only be recognized when important feed and supplement requirements are attained for the equine. A horse supplement should deliver a full and well-balanced package of vitamins, minerals, probiotics and digestive aids in one carrier that is certainly required by equines in all sorts and stages of performance.

An equine supplement firm’s objective have to be to produce an economical, straightforward, smart option for the over-all physical health and nourishment of the whole horse. Customers should be expecting maximum functionality and maximum delight from their equines as well as full satisfaction, secure feeling from the products they are utilizing and the assistance supplied will be unparalleled, uncompromising professionalism, truthful and have integrity they are doing the most they can for the owner and their horses.

A lot more common myths are associated with horse feeding as compared to feeding the majority of other animals. This is simply due to the loss of current nutritional research info and also an increasing wide variety of equine owners who are not really acquainted with the concepts of equine nutrition. Dietary needs will differ drastically among horses based on individual age, body weight, and rate of activity. There are no miraculous health supplements, superior performance feed secrets or detours that will convert any horse into a champion. Horses by nature use fodders as the major part in their diets. Sufficient forages are a simple demand for normal performance of the horses digestive system. This requirement for forages is most easily provided by hay and pasture.

There are a great number of nutritional supplements on the market today. However, very few are designed, well balanced and buffered to satisfy the prerequisites of all types of horses, and many are costly and tricky to work with everyday and the horse owner just decides the horse does not have to have this health supplement when in fact they do as most of the feed stuff is highly processed, aged, rotten and missing many of its vitamins and minerals.

This strategy generates strong overall health and subsequently the whole equine demonstrates toughness, stamina, and a practically unbelievable level of resistance to parasites and disease. If the tissues are healthy, the complete horse is healthy.

Feeding Beef Cattle – Why Cows Eat What They Eat

One of the most popular questions I believe that every person wanting to start out in raising cattle or even know anything about cows and cattle will ask is, “What do they eat??” The answer to this question is not simple as you might think: What they eat doesn’t just begin and end with grass or hay or grain or a combination of all three! But let’s not settle on the “what.” What about the “why?” Why do cattle eat or have to eat grass and/or hay? What is so special about grass and hay that it must be the absolute or most common answer to the what-do-they-eat question?

The answer begins and ends with the cow’s digestive system. Cows are genetically, intrinsically and physiologically designed as herbivorous creatures because of the way their digestive system is structured. This means that cows are ruminants, or animals that have their stomach divided into four chambers, the largest being the rumen. Other chambers are the Reticulum, the Omasum, and the Abomasum. The rumen is capable of holding up to 50 gallons of digesta (that’s solids, liquids and even gases), and having a large healthy population of millions of microflora to help break down the forages that a cow eats. Ruminants also chew cud, which is partly digested plant matter regurgitated up from the rumen and reticulum. Cows don’t chew the feed or grass they eat when they clamp down on it–they bite then swallow, often without chewing much. When they rest, they burp or regurgitate it back up to break it down further.

The clincher to the ability of a cow to survive–let alone thrive–on roughage like grass and legumes is the bacteria or microflora that live inside the cow’s rumen. There are mainly two types of bacteria that exist in the rumen: fibre microbes and starch microbes. The fibre microbes are the most important to a bovine’s digestive system because of their ability to break down and digest fibre in a cow’s diet, regardless what she eats, which is their primary function. Starch microbes are more for when a bovine is consuming grain like corn which contain a lot of starch, and their main function is to break down the starch in the grains, more so than the roughage fibre that comes with such “hot” rations. Unless an animal is on a finishing diet, most cattle will have a larger population of fibre microbes in their rumen due to their high forage diets.

Thriving on an anaerobic environment, they have a life-span of 15 minutes and thus have a huge turn-over rate. The dead microbes supply the cow much of her protein needs in addition to the protein from the plant sources that by-pass the rumen. End products of this digestive process (including the synthesization of protein and B vitamins) include volatile fatty acids (VFAs), which provide an energy source for the cow. Yet he microbes themselves cannot fully function and live on plant fibre alone. Their nutritional requirements are very similar to the nutrition requirements of the animal they live in. They also need water, energy, protein, minerals and vitamins from the plants and supplements that the cow receives on a daily basis in order to function and keep producing subsequent generations of microbes.

There is a reason why a cow will literally starve to death on a diet too high in fibre and too low in protein. A cow’s stomach only has so much room to hold digesta in, so the more poor feedstuffs she eats the fuller her stomach will be and the less she’ll eat. All that feed she’s eating will just stay in her stomach for a long period of time or until she gets an adequate- to high-protein supplement. When that happens, then the poor quality feed will go through her system much faster and she’ll be able to eat more of that poor feed more often. All because those teeny-tiny living organisms just need a boost of protein to help digest all that roughage!

Thus a cow’s ability to be “feed efficient” is dependent on the microbes in her rumen. The higher the microbial population in her rumen, the more forage can be utilized and digested efficiently. The higher the protein content in the forage or supplied by supplements, the more the cow will eat and the higher the microbial population. The higher the microbial population, the more protein and VFAs the cow will receive. Put that all together and she’ll gain weight!

A cow’s ability to eat what she eats also has a lot to do with her mouth. Like all ruminant animals, cows lack upper front incisors, though they do have upper molars for grinding and chewing. Her lower front incisors are flat and curved out so that she can grasp grass easier. She has a powerful tongue that is used to wrap around a sward of grass, pull it in her mouth and tear it from its stems. She chews very briefly, then swallows. When she’s resting, she’ll regurgitate it back up and rechew it over again. A cow will produce 200 litres of saliva per day–this is so that she can more easily swallow and digest the forage she eats, and provides an ideal environment for the rumen microbes.

Cows can eat what they eat–being grass and hay, among other fodder–because of their four-chambered stomachs, the structure of their teeth and mouths, and most importantly, the microbes that live in their rumen. Rumen microbes are the most important because they are responsible for breaking down fibre in the plant material that the cow eats. Without them, she would never be able to eat as coarse a plant as grass without some level of detrimental affect to her body and her life.