Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Supplement Decisions

With our recent increase in both variety and dosages of equine supplements, I've found myself struggling to stay organized at feeding time.  There are multiple issues, such as time constraints, knowing which horse needs which supplements, how much and how often, figuring out how much to buy at a time so that I don't have to make multiple trips in one week to the feed store, storage limitations, the weather, greedy and rude horse behaviors, and bucket stabilization problems.  My husband has been trying to help me feed, but having more than one person manage all these supplements isn't easy.  Since what is supposed to be fed each meal changes as I learn new things, I'm not at a point where I can make a list for pet sitters, so I just tell my husband to pick a few supplements and deliver them when I can't be at the barn doing it myself.

Here's what I'm up against:

Safe Choice Senior Dry for Digestion and Weight Maintenance ($16.99 per 50 lb. bag)
Select Legacy Pellets for Joint Health  ($78.99 per 10 lb. bucket)
Sand Rid Pellets to Prevent Sand Colic  ($59.99 per 20 lb. bucket)
Salt Trace Mineral Block for Minerals  ($6.99 per 50 lb. block)
Redmond Rock on a Rope for Minerals ($10.99 per 3 to 5 lb. rock)
Beet Pulp Shreds without Molasses for Weight Maintenance  ($18.99 per 40 lb. bag)
Beet Pulp Pellets for Weight Maintenance  ($15.99 per 50 lb. bag)
Daily Gold Clay with Minerals for Ulcer Prevention and Stress Relief  ($16.99 per 5 lb. bag)
Natural Glo Rice Bran Pellets for Weight Maintenance  ($26.99 per 40 lb. bag)
Ametza Bermuda/Alfalfa Mix Pellets ($10.00 per 80 lb. bag)
Ametza Alfalfa Pellets  ($10.00 per 80 lb. bag)

That's a lot of scooping and measuring, minus the salt blocks and rocks.  One thing my husband and I have agreed upon is that cleaning buckets, soaking beet pulp in buckets, and trying to tie the buckets to a railing only to have the horses flip them upside down and spill all the wet beet pulp into the sand is just not working out.  I'm trying to prevent sand colic in my horses, and when they start lapping sand-covered wet beet pulp up off the ground, it kind of cancels out my efforts of feeding them Sand Rid Pellets.

So, I'm considering abandoning the beet pulp all together.  The rice bran pellets and Safe Choice Senior are supposed to help keep the weight on.  I need more time observing the horses after they have consumed the rice bran pellets to see if they get too hyper to ride safely.  If there is a problem, I'd just assume dropping the rice bran pellets from their diet and increase the Safe Choice Senior servings.  After all, $16.99 for a 50 lb. bag of Safe Choice Senior is way better than $26.99 for a 40 lb. bag of rice bran pellets.

As far as the hay pellets go, they are affordable and I love them because I can feed just pellets on windy days and not have to deal with baled hay blowing all over the place.  That's a no brainer.  My only problem is supply.  There are times when my area is completely sold out of hay pellets.

Daily Gold Clay with Minerals was a substitute I bought for ulcer prevention.  I had to go through SmartPak to get the products that my vet recommended, and the cost of supplements from SmartPack blows my hair back.  I just can't pull the trigger on buying anything from them, even with their 15% discounts, and even knowing that their pre-sorted packages will make life easier.  The local feed store reported that all of their customers who use Daily Gold Clay with Minerals swear by it.  My husband looked at the label and said, "I think you are just feeding the horses more sand with this stuff."  He may be right, so once this bag is done, I don't think I will continue to buy it unless I see something miraculous happen.  My horses are really not under all that much stress being trail ridden.

Everything else on the list is not negotiable.  I can clearly see that the horses need and benefit from those items.  There is nothing wrong with the quality of hay I have been feeding the horses, but they have made it clear that they are no longer interested in it now that they have supplements.  Hay is turning into something that the horses chew on when they are bored.

Everyone has put on weight except for Lostine, who is clearly having problems with her teeth.  When the equine dentist came out at the end of spring, he said that her teeth were in such bad shape due to her age that all he could do was to try to make her comfortable.  She may be the only reason why I would keep soaking beet pulp, because at some point she may not be able to eat anything else.


Promise said...

Have you considered using SmartPak? They create a customized supplement "packet" for your horse, with different tubs for each supplement, and you just open it and dump it into the feed, once or twice a day, depending on needs. No scooping, no measuring -- and they get the same exact dose every time. They also do loading doses, if needed. It is SO much easier -- I highly recommend them!

FoxLair said...

I have always used rice bran, your brand is too expensive, switch to different brand and can use just rice bran instead of the pellets...cheaper
Rice bran also puts the weight on, in my opinion better than beet pulp, and didn't need to feed much to make a difference in keeping their weight up, plus makes their coat super glossy and is not a "hot" feed

appydoesdressage said...

I have been having great success with the supplement Cool Calories instead of doing the beet pulp/rice bran that I have used the past 3 years with my old man App. It is relatively cheap, $22 for a bag that lasts a little over a month at 2 scoops 2x a day.

The Sand Rid you should be able to do only once per month and not daily, that would knock your bill and daily supplements down another notch. It's all about finding ways to make things easier!

Camryn said...

I use empty plastic coffee or creamer containers. Just premix ration with name on it.

achieve1dream said...

With Lostine's teeth I would definitely hesitate to feed the pellets unsoaked... after Faran choked I am super paranoid about it. He choked on dry alfalfa pellets!!!!! Scary! So now I soak hay pellets and beet pulp when I need to feed it.

For weight gain I have to agree with the suggestion of adding fat. Beet pulp is great for increasing how much water and fiber they are getting, but it's not going to help with weight gain as much as fat will. Besides most senior feeds are mostly beet pulp anyway, so I agree you can probably drop that from the arsenal. For fat I have used rice bran... it's powdery and a pain in the butt if it's windy. I was having to dampen it because Chrome would snort into his bowl and blow it up in his face. I finally switched to Empower Boost which has a lot of flax in it too which I love because flax is so good for them but hard for me to find. I've really liked it so far. I haven't tried oil... it's messy so probably not the route you want to go!

Also I've heard mixing different types of minerals isn't really a good idea... it can cause them to get too much of something that might be toxic. So I would probably pick one and stick with it. They don't get a lot of minerals from blocks, it's more for the salt than anything, so you could try a free choice loose mineral or maybe one that goes in their feed. I had problems with them not eating the kind that goes in the feed so I decided to go with a ration balancer instead. It has all the minerals and protein they need. Check what the recommended feeding is on your Safe Choice and make sure you're feeding it. If it says to feed five pounds (measured by weight, not volume) and you only feed two they aren't getting the minerals they need. They have to eat the minimum required amount to get all of their minerals. I hope that makes sense. I suck at explaining. That's why I decided to go with the ration balancer (used to use Purina Enrich 32, now use Nutrene Empower Balance) because for just one pound a day he gets everything he needs. The difference is that Chrome is an easy keep so he doesn't need the extra calories. In the winter when he doesn't need the calories I add the fat supplement. So it is important to make sure you're feeding the correct amount of senior. It has a lot of roughage in it so the nutrients are more diluted... that's the best way I can think to describe it. :)

I don't know anything about sand colic so I can't help you there. For feeding them can you use big rubber tubs or do you have to use hanging buckets? I was feeding Chrome in a small tub, but he would flip it so I put it inside of a larger one and now it works great! I was feeding him in one about this size http://www.horse.com/item/fortiflex-feed-tub/BSA25/ (I like bigger to slow him down because he ate his feed too fast) and then I put that inside of one twice that size (if comes up to his knees) so if he dumps the small one the feed doesn't end up on the ground. He eventually destroyed the small one so I started feeding him in the big one and it has worked great. It slows him down and even though he can move it (he likes to paw at his bucket while he eats) he has never flipped it while eating out of it like he did the small ones.

Anyway I've probably shared way more than you cared to know, but if any of that doesn't make sense let me know and I'll try to explain it better. :D

P.S. I think this is the size of the big tub I'm feeding him in now. http://www.amazon.com/Fortex-All-Purpose-Horses-15-Gallon/dp/B000I1M85G

Venom said...

I was going to suggest portioning out all your sups in advance (though I see I am not the only one to think of it); I always end up sending whacks of little yogurt or sour cream tubs for recycling, but they would make easy make ahead containers to add to meals.

For the bucket flippers - how about using an over the fence feeder wired on, or bolted in place?

In the winter here, because snow if usually deep and blocks melt too much, I use a loose mineral top dressing over low starch pellets (I use Cool Commander, but if I have also just tossed individual mineral blocks (the little ones) into their feeders (which my hubby bolted to the stall walls) so they always have it available. If I read it right, you use both?

We don't have a sand issue here, but I too thought there was a monthly dose as an option. I also echo the rice bran over the pellets.

I remember you've had some worries over Bombay lately and keeping weight on him, but I didn't think you'd gotten an ulcer diagnosis. Do you think your guys are stressed enough by neighbours and strangers that they'd actually get ulcers Nuz? I am wondering because I have a racetrack background, and even though that can be a stressful living environment for horses, few of mind actually suffered from ulcers than I thought would.

I understand what you're saying about them turning their nose up at hay in favour of the sups -- I've had that experience and it always felt much like feeding and obsessing over my children when they were small. I decided that if you don't eat your main meal then maybe you aren't hungry enough so I didn't give much the next meal and then usually I found they were back to eating just fine at the next meal. Just my experience.