Monday, August 16, 2010

Equine Feeding Basics - Avoiding Common Mistakes Part 2 of 3

Boo- Boo #2  Excess grain, especially sweet feeds

By Judy Sinner, Dynamite Gold Director 
 Photo courtesy Emily Keene

Grains become sugar in the body and horses are not high sugar eaters. Carbs are for energy for work and unless a horse is working hard or nursing or growing fast, grain is not usually even necessary. Sweet feeds high in molasses are particularly detrimental, causing a “sugar rush” that affects attitude, tightening muscles thereby reducing stride and flexibility and causing blood sugar spikes that can lead to insulin resistance, laminitis and bone cell disruption in youngsters. Feed-grade molasses contains mold inhibitors and preservatives and is high in fluoride, which suppresses the iodine needed for proper thyroid function. Sweet feeds are technology from the cattle industry, designed for fattening steers for slaughter or for increasing milk production in dairy cows. Molasses is also a convenient way for unethical feed mills to disguise moldy, inferior and broken grains and even to cover up dust, hulls and other contaminants.

Some horses have gluten allergies, or react negatively to the avenin in oats. Avenin is a central nervous system stimulant. I know of a few horses who get wacky if they eat even a few bites of oats, so observe your horse’s response to grain or to excess grain. One barn worker I know admitted to burying half the sweet feed the owners wanted the horses to get, in the manure pile! She said, “If I feed all that grain, I get bucked off!” If you see attitude problems, try eliminating the grain, or just feeding rolled barley and a little cracked corn and eliminating the oats.

If you feed grain at all, a mere cup or two of Pelleted Grain Ration is plenty for even working horses or growing foals and nursing mares. Race or endurance competition might require a little more, but you will find they need much less than you think of this super-concentrated, top quality ration. If more calories, fat and protein are needed, H.E.S.™ pellets are the perfect solution. Low in carbs, high in protein and fat from Dynamite’s proprietary whole extruded soybeans and other nutrients, H.E.S. has been dubbed “topline in a bag” by happy distributors and customers who find a cup or two a day works wonders. The bottom line is, feed either no grain at all, or as little as possible and you and your horse will both be happier!

Make sure to read Boo-Boo #3 here