Wednesday, January 21, 2015

New Snags in the Dietary Changes

As you know, I've been trying out a variety of products to help my horses get the nutrition, protein, and fat they haven't been able to get with last year's batch of worthless hay.  Everyone is fattening up and looking healthy except for Lostine.  She doesn't look bad, but her ribs are still visible.  I know we may never be able to keep meat on those ribs at her age, but I'm still trying.  I noticed that not only does she eat all day and make little progress, but now I'm finding chewed up wads of pellets and supplements in her barrel.  It's like she wants to eat them, but won't swallow them.  Then once she spits them out, no one wants to eat them.  So, I may have to start feeding her watered down mash for every meal sooner than I expected.

I've been getting persistent headaches every day over the past few weeks, which is unusual for me.  At first I just blamed stuff that was blooming after the rains, because the headaches always began when I was down at the barn feeding the horses.  But then one day I was holding a bag of Cool Calories 100 and when I pulled the scoop out of the bag to pour into a feed barrel, a wind picked up and blew the power into my face right when I was inhaling, and I got an instant brain freeze.  Then a massive headache set in.

After that I became more aware of how I was handling the powder.  If I clutched it to my chest while scooping, I always got headaches.  If I held it way out to my side and held my breath when scooping, I was okay, and if I didn't feed the horses it at all, I felt great and breathed clearly.  Cool Calories is essentially fractionated vegetable fat, as they call it.  I've only used 3/4ths of a bag so far, but I think it is helping in fattening the horses up.  However, I'm worried that if the powder is giving me such bad headaches, it may be having the same effect on the horses, so I think I will have to cut that out of our feeding routine.  I'm a bit bummed, because it was one of the easier ways to feed.

One of the things I have been monitoring is the amount and quality of manure each time I make a change to the horses' diet.  I am no longer giving the horses free choice hay, because the manure just gets unmanageable and the hay is such poor quality that its not doing anything for their physical health.  All it does is keep them busy and out of trouble.  When they had free choice hay, I would have to clean up manure three times a day, and no sooner would I clean one section of the barn or paddock, and I'd turn around to see that the horses had already dropped an equal number of piles where I had just cleaned.  I literally could not clean faster than they pooped.

What really bums me out is how we had gotten the main manure pile down to 1/6th of its previous size after multiple weekend trips to the landfill, and now the pile is already back to the size it was before we started hauling it out.  It took two years to get as big as it was before we bought the trailer, but now with free choice hay, plus all the extra feed products I've been trying, plus having one extra horse, it only took a matter of a couple of months to get the pile back to its previous size.  Rock is our biggest horse, and he definitely has the biggest poops.  They stink too.  None of my other horse's stink, but if we are out trail riding, everyone knows when Rock needs to poop.  His gas could clear a football stadium.  One would think he's eating meat on the side.


Linda said...

I used to use Cool Calories for Red our 34/35 year old gelding, but this year I went to all pelleted Senior feed and haven't had a need for it. He's at a perfect weight now. I wasn't really sure if the Cool Calories worked last year or not and kind of forgot about using it this year. Turns out, I haven't missed or needed it.

How Sam Sees It said...

It's made such a huge difference with my mare in such a short time. I actually am not going to buy a second bag to see if I can maintain the weight she put on without it. I thought it was wonderful.

achieve1dream said...

Wow it sucks to be allergic to everything doesn't it?? I'm glad you were able to pinpoint what was causing your headaches. I think mine are weather related and allergies and hormones... Makes it hard to pinpoint anything specific lol. I'm glad you're feeling better now that you've figured out not to breathe it.

Sorry about Lostine's teeth. Soaked mashes are a pain in the butt but it's better than a thin horse or choked horse. :-\

When you say free choice hay do you mean free choice in their small hole haynets or loose in a bucket? I'm amazed it makes such a difference in how much manure there is but there is no way I could not feed free choice. It's better for their gut health to always have something in their stomach but like you said it's also great for keeping them out of trouble. When I was a kid we didn't feed free choice and my mare learned to eat the bark off of the trees from boredom!! I so don't want Chrome learning any bad habits like that!!! I hope you can figure out something that works for both you and the horses.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

achieve1dream - I give the horses their usual amount of hay in their feed barrels for breakfast and dinner, and then when I was feeding free choice, I always kept the hay nets stocked on top of that.

achieve1dream said...

Oooh okay! That makes sense. Are you going to put their normal amount of hay in the nets now or do they not share? It's sooooo difficult with multiple horses! I don't miss that at all!

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

They get their normal amount in the feed barrels, but I lock them in their stalls for a few hours so everyone gets enough to eat without the others pushing them around.