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Used to run a stable and live on a farm, now I am back into banking for awhile. Still have horses and love animals.  

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Learning and the why's pet nutrition


With the weather temperatures up and down it is a great time for horses to colic. If a horse goes down with colic they could die and at the very least it's an expensive vet visit. I have learned that part of the reason for the colic is horses don't drink as much water with low temps and that can cause colic. One helpful remedy is beet pulp because it must be soaked and it adds moisture and water to a horses diet. Also, the hay at the end of winter here has more staff with the exception of orchard grass mixes and so it's drier and it has less nutrients. Beet pulp is great for fiber and it falls in the forage category between hay and oats as natural forage.

Oats are great in the winter as a topper because they have extra protein and carbs for the cold weather. Vegetable oil which is used in premium feeds to help a horse gain weight when they struggle is a very good way to add calories to when needed. Beet pulp is also included in premium feeds for horses who have difficulty gaining weight.

The funny thing about different ways to feed is you can any vet or horse owner or stable owner and hear these things are great or horrible. My brother (related by marriage by the way) and we talked about when he was a boy and his grandfather who had working horses that plowed fields among other things and recalled his grandfather feeding oats and growing beets for winter as well as hay. Greg never thought about why and you know we think of these things as outdated or something new and exciting (depends on who you talk to).

Pasture management and hay are whole other issues up for bickering over. My grandfather and a farmer I know who takes time to cultivate in a natural way, without chemicals and relying on the old ways (like several hundred years of animal husbandry) shared their knowledge and experience with me so I just don't pull my principals on these subjects out of my rear to be blunt. The knowledge has served me well and brought me closer to the land and the animals.

Today's product guarantees can be deceiving as the labeling for animal foods including horse feed isn't as regimented as say people food products. When the label does not list specific ingredients such as a horse feed label that lists general terms when it comes to what grains are being used in their concentrated feed (wheat, soil hulls, corn, oats etc.) than that means it may not be consistent as far as those ingredients each time the feed is made. However, if a horse or dog food bag spells it out in detail then it must include everything it says with each bag supplied to the consumer. General terms give the manufacturer much leeway to cut their production costs but still charge the consumer. Grains in concentrated pelleted foods are bought in large commodities and those commodities change in price on the market so surfing the market is what feed manufacturers do to make as much profit as possible with the cheapest ingredients.

Purina Equine Senior is a great example of detailed listing of the product ingredients compared to other Purina products as well as other well know horse feeds. Comparing the labels sheds some light on the quality and guarantee of feed. Dog food, another great money maker for pet food manufacturers, that's another blog. The USDA regulates the labels and of course the general terms and vagueness is downright scary really to me on some popular dog food brands. SCARY..... 

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