Standlee Barn Bulletin

The Standlee Barn Bulletin is your source for insightful articles about premium western forage and beyond.

5 Common Horse Feeding Mistakes

5 Common Horse Feeding Mistakes

Feeding horses should be easy, but unfortunately, it has become quite challenging for our modern horses. We have outlined 5 common mistakes that are made when feeding horses.

1. Not Feeding Enough Quality Hay

The horse has evolved as a grazing animal; forage...

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What type of forage is best for your small animal?

What type of forage is best for your small animal?

Did you know that providing supplemental long stem forage is both healthy and beneficial for your small animals? Have you ever wondered what type of forage your small animals should be eating? Our nutritionist, Dr. Duren, helps...

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How Winter Affects Horses - Temperatures & Feeding

How Winter Affects Horses - Temperatures & Feeding

During the winter season, temperatures typically fall below that necessary for pasture grass to grow. Pastures become rapidly depleted of natural forage and horses must increasingly rely on their owners to provide them with a nutritionally adequate diet. To properly...

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What Do I Feed My Horse? - Managing Forage Part 2

What Do I Feed My Horse? - Managing Forage Part 2

Forage is the most important ingredient in the horse’s diet, yet the choices in forage species and form are sometimes daunting. Understanding the types and physical forms of forage and importance of forage quality will help horse...

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Feeding horses should be easy, but unfortunately, it has become quite challenging for our modern horses. We have outlined 5 common mistakes that are made when feeding horses.

\n

1.\tNot Feeding Enough Quality Hay

\n

The horse has evolved as a grazing animal; forage plays a pivotal role in equine health. Horses are non-ruminant herbivores also known as a “hindgut fermenters”. Their digestive tract is made up of a simple stomach, small intestine and large intestine. The natural feeding habit of the horse is to eat small amounts of roughages, often throughout the day. Domestication has brought a change to this. Modern management practices of horses incorporate stabling, increased grain-based concentrate consumption, meal feeding and limited access to pasture. This has led to a myriad of problems by undermining the horse’s digestive capabilities. To ensure optimal health, horses must be given access to a high-quality fiber-based diet.

\n

Forage contains all the essential nutrients required by horses:

\n\n

Horses require an absolute minimum of 1% of their body weight in dry forage per day; for a 1000 lb horse, this equates to 10 lb per day. A safer guideline is to provide horses with a minimum of 1.5% to 2.5% of their body weight in dry forage per day (15 to 25 lbs of dry forage per day for a 1000 lb horse) (Harris, 2016).

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2. Feeding Too Much Grain

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Grain concentrates and supplements should only be fed to compliment the forage being offered. If high-quality forage is being fed, most horses only require a low intake vitamin and mineral pellet (ration balancer pellet). As horses increase their workload or physiological demands, e.g. pregnancy or lactation, additional concentrate may be required. Excess grain can cause weight gain, increased gastric and hindgut acidity and may cause behavioral changes in some horses (Harlow et al., 2016).

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3.\tFeeding Multiple Supplements Without Evaluating the Total Diet Impact

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All equine diets should start with forage as the foundation and from here, additional concentrates and supplements may be added to balance the diet and/or add calories or protein. Other supplements are specific to joint health or gut health. It is important to read the ingredients list and make sure the horse is not being over supplemented with any single ingredient. Selenium, for example, is found in very low levels in forage, therefore, many horse owners feed an additional amount to compensate the horse’s requirement (selenium is 1.25mg per day for an 1100lb horse undergoing moderate exercise) (NRC, 2007). If the horse eats 20lbs of hay with a low selenium content (0.1 ppm), this equates to 0.9 mg of selenium, add 5lbs of a performance feed (selenium content 0.7ppm) which equates to 1.6 mg of selenium, then add an overall wellness supplement which contains an additional 0.8 mg selenium per 2 scoops. Next, add a hoof supplement with an additional 1mg of selenium per scoop and finally a coat health supplement with an additional 0.32 mg per cup (feeding rate). Our total diet now contains 4.62 mg of selenium. The maximum tolerable level of selenium for an 1100lb horse is about 20mg (NRC, 2007).

\n

4.\tNot Feeding on a Regular Schedule

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Horses are routine animals and can stress easily if not fed at similar times each day. Forage should be provided continually throughout the day to try and simulate grazing behavior if pasture is not available. Concentrate meals should be fed at the approximate same time each day to ensure horses do not become stressed. Irregular schedules will stress horses, and they may develop stall vices such as kicking, raking their teeth on the stall or cribbing. Digestive disorders can occur due to an overly hungry horse bolting (aggressively eating) its feed (Harris, 1998).

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5.\tNot Enough Turnout

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Horses are grazing, herd animals and they will cover large distances in a day, continually walking and grazing. Turnout provides opportunity for exercise. Horses out for 24hrs can walk up to 9.5 miles while horses out for 7 hours will only walk up to 3 miles (Sharpe & Kenny, 2019). Slow, continuous exercise that is provided by turnout keeps a horse’s joints flexible. During turnout, if horses can be with, or at least next to, other horses, it can decrease their anxiety levels as horses are social herd animals. Respiratory health can also be improved by increasing turnout time. Clean, fresh air is essential, especially in cases of airway or respiratory disorders (McIntosh et al., 2019).

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These are just a few of the common pitfalls people fall into when feeding horses. The most important thing to remember, is that horses evolved as grazing animals and forage should always be the number one consideration in their diet.

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References:

\n", "urlWithHost": "http://standleeforage.com/standlee-barn-bulletin/5-common-horse-feeding-mistakes", "rating": 0.0, "commentsCount": 0, "trackbacksCount": 0 }, { "id": 660120, "type": "BlogsPosts", "date": "2019-10-16T00:00:00", "author": "", "authorPictureUrl": "/CatalystImages/UserProfileDefault.jpg", "trackbackUrl": "http://standleeforage.com/BlogRetrieve.aspx?BlogID=11741&PostID=660120&A=Trackback", "url": "/standlee-barn-bulletin/safely-help-your-horse-gain-weight", "title": "3 Ways to Safely Prep Your Underweight Horse for Winter", "postFeaturedImage": "/images/blog/underweight_horse.png", "metaTitle": "3 Ways to Safely Help Your Horse Gain Weight", "metaDescription": "Care should be taken when helping underweight horses gain weight in order to avoid digestive disturbances. Here are 3 ways you can safely help your horse gain weight.", "body": "

To understand weight gain and loss in horses, we must first be able to accurately evaluate the horse’s current body condition. The Body Condition Scoring (BCS) system has been developed to help horse owners visually determine if their horse is overweight, underweight or in ideal condition. It assigns values from 1 to 9, to classify horses from underweight to overweight in each the following areas:

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Horses with a BCS of:

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Horse owners have numerous strategies for increasing a horse’s body weight. The 2007 National Requirements for Horses suggests that it takes 40 to 45 pounds of gain to change a horse’s body condition score by 1 unit (based on a 1000/1100 pound horse).

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We can safely achieve this amount of weight gain in approximately 90 days by adding additional calories to the diet. Care should also be taken when feeding for weight gain not to cause digestive disturbances with the increased feed intake. Feed changes should be transitioned over several days and not made rapidly. The question then becomes “what should I feed my horse for weight gain?”

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Weight loss in horses can be caused by many different factors. Work with your veterinarian or nutritionist to identify the cause of weight loss. Once you have resolved those issues and started your horse on a more calorie dense diet, it will begin to gain weight. Remember weight gain is a slow process – do not expect results over night.

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By Dr. Tania Cubitt\n
Standlee Nutritional Expert

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Standlee Forage Products Recommended for Weight Gain

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", "urlWithHost": "http://standleeforage.com/standlee-barn-bulletin/safely-help-your-horse-gain-weight", "rating": 0.0, "commentsCount": 0, "trackbacksCount": 0 }, { "id": 659777, "type": "BlogsPosts", "date": "2019-05-29T23:00:00", "author": "Jessica Wright", "authorPictureUrl": "/CatalystImages/UserProfileDefault.jpg", "trackbackUrl": "http://standleeforage.com/BlogRetrieve.aspx?BlogID=11741&PostID=659777&A=Trackback", "url": "/standlee-barn-bulletin/what-type-of-forage-is-best-for-your-small-animal", "title": "What type of forage is best for your small animal?", "postFeaturedImage": "/images/blog/rabbits_guinea_pigs_forage.jpg", "metaTitle": "What type of forage is best for your small animal?", "metaDescription": "Did you know that providing supplemental long stem forage is both healthy and beneficial for your small animals? Have you ever wondered what type of forage your small animals should be eating?", "body": "

Did you know that providing supplemental long stem forage is both healthy and beneficial for your small animals? Have you ever wondered what type of forage\n your small animals should be eating? Our nutritionist, Dr. Duren, helps us answer this question by giving an overview of feeding practices by small\n animal species.

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Feeding Rabbits

\"Rabbits\n

Start the feeding program with a formulated feed, intended for rabbits, that provides necessary levels of energy, protein, minerals, and vitamins. These\n formulated feeds would generally be in the form of a pellet. Most rabbits self- limit themselves on feed intake, and therefore, free-choice access\n to the formulated pellets is usually acceptable; however, some rabbits overeat to the extent of obesity. If overweight conditions are present, reduce\n the amount of pellets free-fed on a daily basis until the rabbit is at a healthy body condition.

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Feeding supplemental long stem premium forage products along with pellets not only supplies important nutrients, but also assists with proper digestive\n function, helps reduce tooth overgrowth, and provides additional feeding activity – effectively reducing boredom.

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For growth, pregnancy, and lactation, the supplement forage should be alfalfa with a minimum of 16% crude protein. Alfalfa can be provided in levels up\n to 20% of their total diet, for small animals in these life-stages.

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For maintenance, supplemental hay (Timothy Grass, Orchard Grass or Alfalfa) can be fed up to 25% of the total diet.

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Feeding Guinea Pigs & Chinchillas

\"Guinea\n

Feeds formulated specifically for guinea pigs and chinchillas are readily available in pellet formats, however, most manufacturers of such feeds usually\n provide only one such formulation. Ensure the formulated feed you choose for your guinea pigs includes adequate added amounts of vitamin C. Unlike\n other small animals, guinea pigs do not synthesize vitamin C, and therefore it must be added as part of a well-formulated guinea pig feed. Just like\n rabbits, the formulated pelleted feed can be given free choice.

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While ideal diet fiber levels are somewhat lower for these animals, feeding supplemental premium long-stemmed forage serves as a good compliment to formulated\n pellets by supplying important nutrients, maintaining digestive function, and providing animal activity – effectively reducing boredom.

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For growth, pregnancy, and lactation, the supplemental hay should be premium grade alfalfa with a crude protein of 16% or more. The supplemental alfalfa\n can account for up to 20% of the total diet.

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For maintenance, supplemental hay (Timothy Grass, Orchard Grass or Alfalfa) can be fed up to 20% of the total diet.

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Feeding Hamsters & Gerbils

\"Hamster\n

As is the case with rabbits and guinea pigs, hamsters and gerbils are also hindgut fermenters. Most manufactured formulated feeds for hamsters and gerbils\n are higher in protein and lower in fiber to match the digestive system of these animals and can be fed free choice. However, supplemental premium forage\n is still an important addition to their diets.

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For growth, pregnancy, and lactation, the supplemental forage should be premium grade alfalfa with a crude protein of 16% or more. The supplemental alfalfa\n can account for up to 20% of the total diet.

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For maintenance supplemental Timothy Grass, Orchard Grass or Alfalfa can account for up to 20% of the total diet.

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Always remember to provide fresh, clean water at all times for all animals. Standlee recommends contacting your veterinarian with any specific questions\n regarding your animal’s diet.

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Featured Small Animal Products

\n\"Standlee\n", "urlWithHost": "http://standleeforage.com/standlee-barn-bulletin/what-type-of-forage-is-best-for-your-small-animal", "rating": 0.0, "commentsCount": 0, "trackbacksCount": 0 }, { "id": 659150, "type": "BlogsPosts", "date": "2018-12-12T23:00:00", "author": "", "authorPictureUrl": "/CatalystImages/UserProfileDefault.jpg", "trackbackUrl": "http://standleeforage.com/BlogRetrieve.aspx?BlogID=11741&PostID=659150&A=Trackback", "url": "/standlee-barn-bulletin/how-winter-affects-horses-temperatures-feeding", "title": "How Winter Affects Horses - Temperatures & Feeding", "postFeaturedImage": "/images/blog/winter_feeding.jpg", "metaTitle": "How Winter Affects Horses - Temperatures & Feeding", "metaDescription": "To properly feed a horse during the winter months, several key factors must be addressed. These factors are water, fiber, and essential nutrients.", "body": "

During the winter season, temperatures typically fall below that necessary for pasture grass to grow. Pastures become rapidly depleted of natural forage and horses must increasingly rely on their owners to provide them with a nutritionally adequate diet. To properly feed a horse during the winter months, several key factors must be addressed. These factors are water, fiber and essential nutrients.

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Water should always be the first consideration in the diet for any horse. Without adequate water intake, horses will not survive. An adult horse (1000 lbs.), in a cool, comfortable environment that is not working or lactating, requires a minimum of 7 - 10 gallons of fresh clean water per day. The amount of water required is closely related to the amount of feed eaten. Most horses will drink 1.5 quarts of water per pound of dry feed intake. If a horse was consuming 20 lbs. of dry hay per day, the horse would be expected to consume approximately 7.5 gallons of water per day. The water requirement is higher if the horse is in training, nursing a foal, growing, pregnant or in a hot/humid environment. The best situation to ensure adequate water intake is to provide free access to fresh clean water.

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Problems associated with water intake during the winter months usually revolve around inadequate intake. Water that has frozen or is near freezing will result in decreased intake. Similarly, horses that must eat snow as their only water source, will not eat enough snow to completely satisfy their water requirement. This decreased water intake can result in digestive upset or \"colic\" that is associated with feed material becoming impacted (stuck) in the digestive system. Therefore, the water source should be free-flowing or heated to prevent freezing and guarantee adequate intake. When installing a heating device for water, be sure any electrical unit is properly grounded to prevent electrical shock of the horse. Horses are very sensitive to electrical shock and will quit drinking to avoid shock.

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Adequate fiber intake is the next consideration in feeding horses during the winter season. It is recommended that horses receive a minimum of 1.5% of their body weight in dry forage per day. For a 1000 lb. horse, this equates to 15 lbs. of hay per day. Can horses consume more hay? Certainly, horses can consume up to 3% of the body weight per day in hay (30 lbs. for a 1000-lb. horse), if the hay is of good quality. The fiber obtained from hay is necessary to keep the digestive system of the horse functioning properly. Without this hay fiber, horses will seek out other sources of fiber including bedding and wood fences or trees to satisfy their needs. Adequate fiber from hay is even more critical during the winter months since it is the feed ingredient that keeps horses warm during cold weather. Digestion and fermentation of fiber (hay) produce heat that helps the horse maintain its body temperature during winter. Unlike hay, consumption of grain does not produce large amounts of body heat during digestion. Grain functions to keep horses warm by providing energy for muscle contraction that can be used to help the animal shiver. Therefore, the best way to keep horses warm during cold weather is to provide plenty of good quality hay.

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When environmental temperatures (including wind chill) drop below 45°F (referred to as the critical temperature), significant amounts of energy are used by the horse to maintain its internal body heat. For each 1°F decrease below the critical temperature, the horse requires a 1% increase in digestible energy to maintain a consistent body temperature. Wind chill, moisture, and coat thickness will affect the critical temperature. The horse’s thick winter coat has an insulating effect against cold and wind. If the coat becomes wet, the critical temperature will increase by 10 to 15°F.

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Increase the forage content of the diet 24 hours prior to forecasted cold conditions. Strive to keep your horse in a good body condition prior to winter months as the extra body fat provides an additional insulating effect against wind and also serves as an energy reserve.

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A frequent hay related problem with horses during the winter months is chronic weight loss. This can occur either by not feeding enough hay to the horse, or by feeding poor quality hay to the horse. In both cases, the horse will have trouble getting enough calories from the hay to maintain body weight. In the case of not feeding enough forage, the simple remedy is to provide all the forage the horse will consume during the day. If the horse is being fed all the forage it will consume, and weight loss is still a problem, better quality forage should be substituted for all or part of the current hay source. Better quality forages are typically in higher calories such as alfalfa compared to grass hay. Other baled hay substitutes, such as forage cubes and pellets can be fed to replace poor quality hay. Standlee Premium Western Forage® offers a wide variety of Alfalfa and Alfalfa mix products ranging from baled forage, to cubes, pellets and chopped forage. Also available are beet pulp shreds and pellets that increase the calorie content of the forage portion of the diet and are highly digestible.

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By Dr. Tania Cubitt & Dr. Stephen Duren\n
Standlee Nutritional Experts - Performance Horse Nutrition

\n", "urlWithHost": "http://standleeforage.com/standlee-barn-bulletin/how-winter-affects-horses-temperatures-feeding", "rating": 0.0, "commentsCount": 0, "trackbacksCount": 0 }, { "id": 656941, "type": "BlogsPosts", "date": "2018-04-16T23:00:00", "author": "J. Glerum", "authorPictureUrl": "/CatalystImages/UserProfileDefault.jpg", "trackbackUrl": "http://standleeforage.com/BlogRetrieve.aspx?BlogID=11741&PostID=656941&A=Trackback", "url": "/standlee-barn-bulletin/what-do-i-feed-my-horse", "title": "What Do I Feed My Horse? - Managing Forage Part 2", "postFeaturedImage": "/images/blog/what_to_feed_your_horse.jpg", "metaTitle": "What Do I Feed My Horse? - Managing Forage Part 2", "metaDescription": "With so many options and misconceptions out there, it's difficult to know what to feed your horse. The experts at Standlee have taken the mystery out of it and addressed some common misconceptions around feeding, forage, forage types, and what is the best forage to feed your horse.", "body": "

Forage is the most important ingredient in the horse’s diet, yet the choices in forage species and form are sometimes daunting. Understanding the types\n and physical forms of forage and importance of forage quality will help horse owners choose the best forage to feed their horse.

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1. Forage Species

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Forage in the form of hay or pasture is the primary ingredient in the diet for most horses. Horses can consume many different varieties of high quality\n forage, both alfalfa and grasses, without out digestive upset, provided the horse is properly adapted to the forage.

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There are many plants that can be grown, cut and stored for use as horse forage. From a practical standpoint, forages can be roughly divided into legumes\n and grasses. Legumes commonly include alfalfa and clover. Grasses consist of many varieties including: timothy grass, orchard grass, rye grass, bermuda\n grass, teff grass, blue grass, fescue and many others.

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Misconception: Horses can’t eat “pick a variety” forage. I have personally heard that horses can’t eat alfalfa, clover, fescue, bermuda\n grass, as well as other varieties.

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Fact: If forage is properly cut, harvested and stored, horses can eat many varieties of forage. Unless, the horse has a specific allergy\n or health condition, many different forage choices will suffice.

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Solution: Many horse owners choose forage based on what is familiar to them. Then these people move to a different area of the country\n that raises different varieties of forage. Rather than condemn a forage as evil, talk with your veterinarian or nutritionist to make an informed decision.

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2. Pellets, cubes, long stem?

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Forage can be processed into a number of physical forms to enhance ease of storage or feeding convenience. Common physical forms include: pellets, cubes,\n and chopped (chaff) products.

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Misconception: Horses will choke on forage pellets or cubes.

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Fact: Horses, as well as humans, can choke on any food or feed that is not properly chewed prior to swallowing. Horses can be fed forage\n in many different physical forms without problems, as long as the rate of intake is monitored. Further, the processing of the forage will not increase\n or decrease the digestibility of the forage, and it will not influence digestive function.

\n

Solution: The physical form of forage should not prevent you from buying a certain variety of forage. Horses can eat many different physical\n forms of forage without digestive problems. Regardless of the physical form of forage, all horses should be gradually adjusted to any change in physical\n form.

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3. Carbohydrate Content of Forage

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Many horse owners have animals that are sensitive to the sugar and starch content\n of forage due to diseases such as insulin resistance and laminitis.

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Misconception: Alfalfa is high in sugar and starch, and is not appropriate for horses that are sugar-sensitive.

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Fact: Alfalfa is actually lower in sugar and starch than many types of grass hay, as sugar is not the primary energy storage unit of legumes.\n The sugar content of hay is determined by many factors including variety of forage, growing conditions, and harvesting conditions. Cool-season grasses\n store carbohydrate as sugar and are naturally high in sugar.

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Solution: If your horse is sensitive to the sugar content of the diet, all forage should be tested for sugar content prior to feeding\n any variety. Simply believing that one type of forage is better than another is not the answer.

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Forage Finder & Feed Calculator

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Be sure to use our online tools: FORAGE FINDER | FEED CALCULATOR\n

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In summary, it is difficult to say definitively that your horse should eat this type or that type of forage. It is important to first select a clean forage\n that is free of mold, dirt, weeds or other contaminants. Then ask questions about the carbohydrate content – will this forage be low enough in carbs\n for my horse? Remember the sugar and starch content of grass is primarily dictated by the environmental and soil conditions during the plant's growth\n and harvesting. Simply saying I only feed “timothy” or “first cutting” because its lower in sugars and starches is not true. The only true test of\n carbohydrate content in forages is laboratory analysis.

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Second, look at the physical form and if your horse can eat it. Does he have poor teeth and can’t chew long stem hay? Then a pellet or cube (soaked) may\n be more appropriate for your horse. If your horse is overweight, select a forage with less calories that may have a slightly higher fiber component.

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Finally, remember all horses should eat approximately 1.5 to 2% of their body weight in forage per day. No matter if the horse is aged, exercising, sedentary,\n or sugar and starch sensitive, it is still critical to feed this amount of forage. Find detailed feeding instructions here.\n

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By Dr. Tania Cubitt & Dr. Stephen Duren\n
Standlee Nutritional Experts - Performance Horse Nutrition

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For more on this topic download Standlee's Free Nutritional White Paper - Forage For Horses The Key To Health.

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