Equine Nutrition Tip #16

Chestnut horse with a blaze eating his dinner in a black rubber feeder

HAY BEFORE GRAIN, OR VICE VERSA?

Many people worry about  which they should be feed first – hay or grain?

If you feed starchy cereal grains (oats, corn, barley, etc.) on an empty stomach, the horse will produce more acid than normal potentially leading to ulcers.  Plus, the grain will leave the stomach quickly and head to the small intestine where it will not be fully digested.

If this undigested grain ends up in the hindgut where starch would be fermented by the bacterial population, then this can increase the risk of laminitis.

Your horse should have access to forage (hay and/or pasture) at will, therefore, when you feed your grain, the horse’s digestive tract should already have hay flowing through it.

If hay is present in the stomach first, it creates a physical barrier for the grain to move out of the stomach as quickly.  When is hay present, the fiber in the hay mixes with the starch from the grain and then this enters the small intestine. Fiber’s presence slows down the process of digestion.

So the answer is to trickle feed forage all day using a slow feeder if necessary to avoid grain on an empty stomach.  For more about the digestive tract click here.  For more about slow feeders click here.

Peace and good feed,

The Nerd

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Seeking Nutrition Advice

Dear ENN blog readers,
I truly love equine nutrition and love helping horse owners help their horses, unfortunately, I do not have the time to answer the 100s of PMs and emails I receive every week seeking advice.  I feel bad not answering but I simply cannot for several reasons:
1) There is not enough information provided to offer solutions.
2) There is always a liability without this information.
3) My time and experience has value.
I really do appreciate and thank you for taking the time to write me and to read my blog but if you need answers that are not in one of my blogs I suggest you:
1) Call your vet– they know your horse and need to be involved with their health plan.
2) Call your feed company– they have great feed reps that know usually know alot about nutrition. If they don’t find one that does.
3) Contact your State college that has an equine program. They usually have someone with a PhD in equine nutrition or Masters level students.
4) Pay for a consult with me.  I write my blogs because I enjoy researching equine nutrition and as a way to offer FREE information. It would be a full time (unpaid) job if I answered all the requests I receive and I simply cannot afford to do this.  
In order for me to answer your requests and so that I can make a solid recommendation a consult with me includes/requires:
1) You to fill out and return a comprehensive evaluation form of your concerns.
2) Pictures or videos of your horse.
3) Records from your vet.
4) Feed labels of, and the actual weight of, the feed stuffs you are feeding
5) At least 30 minutes of your time to discuss your concerns via phone.
The cost for a 30 minute consult is $75.00.  If this is something you feel you want to pursue here is the link to schedule
Thank you!
Peace and Good Feed,
The Nerd
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Amino Acids in the Equine Diet

Most horse owners understand the importance of protein in a horse’s diet.  Most understand that protein is used for growth and the repair of muscle and tissues.  Few however can tell you what protein is actually made of. 

Protein is made up of Amino acids much like a wall is made of bricks. There are 22 Amino acids that constitute protein in your horse.  A horse needs all 22 to build proteins in his body. Horses get these Amino acids two ways; they make them in their body or they get them from their food. 

Grazing horses

Of the 22 Amino acids there are 10 that are called essential.  The essential Amino acids come from food.  Essential Amino acids must be provided in the diet because the horse cannot manufacture them on their own in the digestive tract. The importance of providing these essential Amino acids can be better understood when we look at the jobs they do:

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