Why Forage First is Important for Horses?
Mother Nature’s Design
Horses are non-ruminant herbivores with digestive tracts that function best when fed diets based on good-quality forages. Feeding programs relying heavily on cereal grains with limited forage often result in health and performance problems. A horse’s stomach makes up only a small portion of its entire digestive tract. The small stomach is designed to continuously process small amounts of forage and feed, which is in contrast to many feeding programs that rely on twice-a-day feeding of a high-starch diet.
When the availability of forage or forage quality is poor, you can supplement your horse’s forage with high-quality forage products. Processed forage products are also excellent for horses with dental challenges or respiratory problems. You can even take forage cubes or pellets on the road in place of hay. Complete horse feeds, which include grain and forage are handy all-in-one products to use when forage supply is low or of inferior feeding value.
Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamins and minerals are required for proper digestion and utilization of forages and feed and for most metabolic processes. Unfortunately, even the best forages are deficient in some minerals and vitamins, so it’s essential your horse feeding program provides an adequate supply.
Ration Balancing products are ideally formulated for horses and supply – minerals, vitamins, and electrolytes (including salt) in the correct proportions to complement forages and other feedstuffs used to fortify horse diets.
Fortified Feeds are concentrate feeds based on higher energy, limited starch formulations that utilize highly digestible, fermentable fiber sources and vegetable fats. High-quality proteins and Vitamin-Mineral fortification is also included. Typical feeding rate is 5-6 pounds per day which avoids overloading the equine digestive tract.
Complete (“Senior”) Blends
Complete Blends are premium feeds for specialized situations and combine stabilized rice bran with other energy and protein sources along with Vitamin-Mineral fortification to produce unique products that are more complete, designed to fully replace forage and as such also feed in large quantities, but not free choice.
Premium Hi-Fat Supplements
To help reduce your horse’s risks of metabolic and digestive disorders replace high-starch cereal grains with Premium Hi-Fat Supplements which provide “cool” calories to achieve the look and energy level you want without the attitude. These supplements utilize stabilize rice bran and ground flaxseed to support energy needs.
What do we feed here?
We feed well a little bit of everything.
All of our horses are on TC30% our ration balancer of choice as it is easily accessible to us without the need for special order or planning ahead. Due to our feeding habits of it we go through a bag a week.
Puddin, Crackhead, & Kit get a top off – to equal 3 pounds – of Purina Senior Active (the blue bag) in the morning, and Kit gets another 3 pounds at night. This means a bag only lasts us 4 days, this is our concentrate of choice due to it containing Outlast & Amplify, both supplements we had previously been feeding separately.
CoaCoa arrived and was placed on Purina Senior (the red Bag), this is a complete feed with forage built in and all the benefits of the blue bag. We estimate she will go through 6 to 8 bags a month as she gains weight. Once she reaches a proper weight, we might back off to a spot where she is just maintaining.
Due to the nature of being a Forage First Facility, we go through a lot of hay, a 21 bale bundle a week, we feed everyone 1/2 bale (about 30 pounds) every day.
The importance of Grain Gremlins
Grain Gremlins are a unique club, they send a dedicated amount each month to help provide the Grain for our sanctuary herd. This allows us to weather the price fluctuations in a more efficient manner and help us stabilize the feed quality and quantity feed to our equines.