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To Grain or Not to Grain.... That is the Question


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#1 lynnrbkh

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Posted 05 November 2007 - 05:38 PM

* Let me know if this should be on the debate forum *

Another topic had me thinking... When is it necessary to grain a horse?

When the horse is fed sufficent hay and supplements to maintain his weight, and is being worked several days a week, he does not need grain. I think grain should *only* be brought into the feeding program when the horse can no longer maintain a healthy weight level or energy level.

What say you?

#2 BuddyRoo

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Posted 05 November 2007 - 06:17 PM

The majority of a horse's diet should be forage. If you cannot supply enough calories or nutrients through forage, then the addition of supplements and/or grains might be needed.

Most stock breeds, ponies, and drafts in anything less than heavy work or lactating do not need grain.

#3 Smilie

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Posted 05 November 2007 - 06:18 PM

Basically i agree. Each horse must be taken as an individual though, and one must look at the whole diet.
I do grain weanlings and yearlings, but only make it a small part of their diet,
I also have a show mare that is an easy keeper and insulin resistent. She never gets grain, even when worked very regularily during show season. She looks great on good timothy hay and some soaked beet pulp, plus free choice saltand minerals
Other horses get grain only as a treat, when they are ridden, making being caught a good thing.
I bring them into the barn and give them a very small scoop of whole oats just as a treat, before saddling up
So yes, for mature horses not in heavy training and just ridden recreationally , maintaining their weight on good hay and having access to minerals and salt, no grain is needed.
This is the healthiest and most natural diet for horses. Just as many horses if not more, are over fed these days, as compared to starved. Neither is good. All kinds of health problems go hand in hand with over feeding, esp carbohydrates.

#4 love_my_colts

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Posted 05 November 2007 - 06:33 PM

I agree with all of the above, a horses digestive system was designed to digest large amounts of roughage. I do like graining young horses a little bit to gentle them, and as a treat for catching a stubborn horse, but none of ours are grained frequently. If their condition is good and they have free choice salt and mineral than hay and or grazing is all they need in my opinion. [Big Grin]

#5 SunshineAcres

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Posted 05 November 2007 - 08:36 PM

I think every horse should get some grain, if only enough to add supplements to. My reasoning is this: Unless you own a thousand acres that your horses free roam on, they are not getting what they need from our hay and pasture grasses. Every area of the US has been overworked to the point of depleting the soil of the nutrients a horse needs. If you disagree with this, I suggest you start doing some reading on the subject.
I have a heavy draft and she gets enough grain to hold her oil and supplements.
My saddle horse gets grain to hold her weight. She gets enough quality hay but she would be too skinny otherwise. JMHO

#6 RolinRiver

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Posted 05 November 2007 - 09:10 PM

I think its crazy how many horse people OVER feed. It's simply amazing to me that some people I know expect their horses to have food in front of them EVERY time they pass their horse's stall... no, I'm not even kidding. One woman I board with who feeds occasionally, tries to throw my horse a THIRD of a bale of hay A DAY. I ended up locking up my hay so she would stay out of it and stop feeding my horse.

Grain is GROSSLY overfed, IMO.
Many horses don't even need it, they get it because their owners want them to have it. My horse gets TWO HANDFULLS of grain a day. That's all he needs to supplement the extra calories he burns during his workouts, since he's a VERY easy keeper. But Im shocked how much grain people feed their horses. Now I can see racehorses that are hard keepers needing 8 quarts a day, but when i see people giving their fat, pasture-kept, never-ridden horses a full scoop twice a day its just stupid.

#7 cowgurl_up

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Posted 05 November 2007 - 09:49 PM

quote:
Originally posted by lynnrbkh:
* Let me know if this should be on the debate forum *

Another topic had me thinking... When is it necessary to grain a horse?

When the horse is fed sufficent hay and supplements to maintain his weight, and is being worked several days a week, he does not need grain. I think grain should *only* be brought into the feeding program when the horse can no longer maintain a healthy weight level or energy level.

What say you?

you have a pm [Smile]

#8 lynnrbkh

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Posted 05 November 2007 - 10:06 PM

cowgurl: PM back! [Big Grin]

#9 Poloponies

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Posted 05 November 2007 - 10:36 PM

I don't grain anything I own currently. I have free supplements available to them and they are on pasture all summer and hay as needed in the winter. Even when in heavy work-6 days a week-they don't get or need IMHO grain. Also, most are OTTBs, you know the "hard keepers" who currently look about ready to foal going in to winter. I would never say never, but almost never for my herd.

#10 lynnrbkh

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Posted 06 November 2007 - 09:59 AM

quote:
Originally posted by SunshineAcres:
I think every horse should get some grain, if only enough to add supplements to. My reasoning is this: Unless you own a thousand acres that your horses free roam on, they are not getting what they need from our hay and pasture grasses. Every area of the US has been overworked to the point of depleting the soil of the nutrients a horse needs. If you disagree with this, I suggest you start doing some reading on the subject.
I have a heavy draft and she gets enough grain to hold her oil and supplements.
My saddle horse gets grain to hold her weight. She gets enough quality hay but she would be too skinny otherwise. JMHO

Even if you rotate pastures and ensure that none of them are overgrazed? Buddy has said several times that soil should be analyzed and horses should be supplemented for whatever's lacking in the soil, but that can be done without grain. I think.

#11 Belle PMU Mare

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Posted 06 November 2007 - 10:26 AM

I have a warmblood heavy on the draft side, I would love not to grain her. Unfortunately to get her supplements down for her joint issues I give her 1/2 to 3/4 a scoop of grain 2X a day. Technically it is reccommended to feed her a 1/4 a scoop 2X a day. I am on agreement on less grain the better unless you have a hard keeper.
IMO,
Kathy

#12 Colspal

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Posted 06 November 2007 - 10:38 AM

Mine just get a handful of grain that there supplements are mixed in with.
We used to grain all the time, but I don't anymore. Not unless they are really being ridden hard, but the hay that they receive is tested and they all do really well.
Cols

#13 BuddyRoo

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Posted 06 November 2007 - 10:38 AM

If you test your forage (be it hay or pasture or both) and supplement for deficiencies, horses should be able to get all their nutritional needs met through forage.

Now, I said nutritional...not caloric. Some horses DO need more calories to maintain a healthy weight.

But not all horses NEED grain. They really don't.

In fact, some horses really shouldn't have any at all. My mare is IR. She does not get grain. She gets "an oat" or a handful of beet pulp to mix her selenium supplement with which equates to literally 30 grains of oats or 10 pellets of BP. That's it.

I have to limit her caloric intake or she can have a plethora of other issues....

And this talk about low cal feeds? It's silliness to me. If the horse needs less calories, stop feeding it GRAIN!!!

Feeding horses isn't magic...and there's no "one size fits all"....each horse is an individual and their needs should be addressed as such. But, generally speaking, if you test your forage and supp for deficiencies, most horses do very well.

#14 cody 'n honey

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Posted 06 November 2007 - 11:37 AM

My horse gets a handful of low-CARB grain each day, enough to put his hoof supplements in. He is on pasture 24/7, with free choice hay from now til about May, when the grass is in again. He is ridden lightly, but loses too much weight over the winter without extra calories.

#15 AnnieOakley1

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Posted 06 November 2007 - 12:01 PM

quote:
My reasoning is this: Unless you own a thousand acres that your horses free roam on, they are not getting what they need from our hay and pasture grasses. Every area of the US has been overworked to the point of depleting the soil of the nutrients a horse needs.
Actually most hay is MORE nutritious and higher in protein than the natural grasses that horses have 'historically' grazed on.

Our hay areas ( levees and hill ground) are seeded to grow specific types of highly nutritious and dense grasses.

I quit feeding grain a year ago and switched to a ration balancer with a couple of suppliments to cover what our grass hay is missing.

Very few horses need grain.

#16 lynnrbkh

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Posted 06 November 2007 - 02:16 PM

quote:
Originally posted by Poloponies:
I don't grain anything I own currently. I have free supplements available to them and they are on pasture all summer and hay as needed in the winter. Even when in heavy work-6 days a week-they don't get or need IMHO grain. Also, most are OTTBs, you know the "hard keepers" who currently look about ready to foal going in to winter. I would never say never, but almost never for my herd.

How do you feed the free choice supplements? I'm guessing that it doesn't have EVERYTHING that a horse needs, since there are certain vitamins/minerals that can be toxic or bad for a horse if they get too much of it. I'm not sure which ones though. Am I wrong?

#17 ej

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Posted 06 November 2007 - 07:08 PM

Fiber is the most important part of the horses diet, not grains. Grains should only be added when the horse is working "hard", such as racing, polo, eventing, endurance, and "sometimes" when the horse has a hard time maintaining weight, then again, there are other feed alternatives for energy and weight besides grains. Keeping the horses diet simple helps keep health problems to a minimum. Research has shown that grains cause colic, founder, ulcers, tying up, diarrhea, insulin/glucose spikes. I truely believe it, for my own horses were always colicking until I took the grains out of their diets. I have a 27 year old that hasnt colicked in 7 years that he has been off grains and usually when the horse gets older, you have more health problems. He is still being worked several times a week and has an attitude of a 15 year old. Feeding grain is more out of ignorance than anything else-the way most horse people know is...my grandfarther fed grain and that is what I know. With computers and all that equine nutrition available to us you would think more horse people would be more concerned about what and why they feed what they do and what is better and why? If a person knows how to ride, why not take the time to know how to take care of that horse from the "inside out"? That means learning "equine nutrition". Its worth the time to pick up a book or magazine or start looking up equine nutrition on the computer if you are on it all the time. Your horse will be healthier and happier if you did take the time and your wallet would be happier too:).....
Most people "over supplement" rather than under supplement.

#18 Mudder

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Posted 06 November 2007 - 07:48 PM

Yup I agree with ej once again. [Big Grin] No grain here for my guys either. Haven't fed grain for years. They don't need it, they are fat enough as it is. [Big Grin]

#19 equine_luver5008

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Posted 06 November 2007 - 10:29 PM

We only feed grain if we need to feed oil or supplements or a handful after riding.

#20 Poloponies

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Posted 07 November 2007 - 09:42 PM

quote:
How do you feed the free choice supplements
I use a mixed lick tub recommended by my vet that has vitamins & minerals formulated for horses. I also have a tub of loose salt.

quote:
Grains should only be added when the horse is working "hard", such as racing, polo, eventing, endurance,
I used to work for a pro who played top level polo and he didn't give his horses grain except through feeding oat hay. These horses were in training 3 days a week and played 3 days a week. That is pretty hard work and they looked fabulous-good weight, great feet, and really shiny coats.

#21 Bumper

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Posted 08 November 2007 - 08:13 PM

Ditto to most of the others. Except for horses in poor health, hard work or with poor grass/hay quality, most horses don't NEED grain. Of course older horses or younger ones can fit into the "need" grain category.

Mine don't get any grain right now. They stand around on pasture and eat and stay fat. In summer when i'm running barrels they get what grain they need as they need it.

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#22 lynnrbkh

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Posted 05 November 2007 - 05:38 PM

* Let me know if this should be on the debate forum *

Another topic had me thinking... When is it necessary to grain a horse?

When the horse is fed sufficent hay and supplements to maintain his weight, and is being worked several days a week, he does not need grain. I think grain should *only* be brought into the feeding program when the horse can no longer maintain a healthy weight level or energy level.

What say you?

#23 BuddyRoo

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Posted 05 November 2007 - 06:17 PM

The majority of a horse's diet should be forage. If you cannot supply enough calories or nutrients through forage, then the addition of supplements and/or grains might be needed.

Most stock breeds, ponies, and drafts in anything less than heavy work or lactating do not need grain.

#24 Smilie

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Posted 05 November 2007 - 06:18 PM

Basically i agree. Each horse must be taken as an individual though, and one must look at the whole diet.
I do grain weanlings and yearlings, but only make it a small part of their diet,
I also have a show mare that is an easy keeper and insulin resistent. She never gets grain, even when worked very regularily during show season. She looks great on good timothy hay and some soaked beet pulp, plus free choice saltand minerals
Other horses get grain only as a treat, when they are ridden, making being caught a good thing.
I bring them into the barn and give them a very small scoop of whole oats just as a treat, before saddling up
So yes, for mature horses not in heavy training and just ridden recreationally , maintaining their weight on good hay and having access to minerals and salt, no grain is needed.
This is the healthiest and most natural diet for horses. Just as many horses if not more, are over fed these days, as compared to starved. Neither is good. All kinds of health problems go hand in hand with over feeding, esp carbohydrates.

#25 love_my_colts

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Posted 05 November 2007 - 06:33 PM

I agree with all of the above, a horses digestive system was designed to digest large amounts of roughage. I do like graining young horses a little bit to gentle them, and as a treat for catching a stubborn horse, but none of ours are grained frequently. If their condition is good and they have free choice salt and mineral than hay and or grazing is all they need in my opinion. [Big Grin]

#26 SunshineAcres

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Posted 05 November 2007 - 08:36 PM

I think every horse should get some grain, if only enough to add supplements to. My reasoning is this: Unless you own a thousand acres that your horses free roam on, they are not getting what they need from our hay and pasture grasses. Every area of the US has been overworked to the point of depleting the soil of the nutrients a horse needs. If you disagree with this, I suggest you start doing some reading on the subject.
I have a heavy draft and she gets enough grain to hold her oil and supplements.
My saddle horse gets grain to hold her weight. She gets enough quality hay but she would be too skinny otherwise. JMHO

#27 RolinRiver

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Posted 05 November 2007 - 09:10 PM

I think its crazy how many horse people OVER feed. It's simply amazing to me that some people I know expect their horses to have food in front of them EVERY time they pass their horse's stall... no, I'm not even kidding. One woman I board with who feeds occasionally, tries to throw my horse a THIRD of a bale of hay A DAY. I ended up locking up my hay so she would stay out of it and stop feeding my horse.

Grain is GROSSLY overfed, IMO.
Many horses don't even need it, they get it because their owners want them to have it. My horse gets TWO HANDFULLS of grain a day. That's all he needs to supplement the extra calories he burns during his workouts, since he's a VERY easy keeper. But Im shocked how much grain people feed their horses. Now I can see racehorses that are hard keepers needing 8 quarts a day, but when i see people giving their fat, pasture-kept, never-ridden horses a full scoop twice a day its just stupid.

#28 cowgurl_up

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Posted 05 November 2007 - 09:49 PM

quote:
Originally posted by lynnrbkh:
* Let me know if this should be on the debate forum *

Another topic had me thinking... When is it necessary to grain a horse?

When the horse is fed sufficent hay and supplements to maintain his weight, and is being worked several days a week, he does not need grain. I think grain should *only* be brought into the feeding program when the horse can no longer maintain a healthy weight level or energy level.

What say you?

you have a pm [Smile]

#29 lynnrbkh

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Posted 05 November 2007 - 10:06 PM

cowgurl: PM back! [Big Grin]

#30 Poloponies

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Posted 05 November 2007 - 10:36 PM

I don't grain anything I own currently. I have free supplements available to them and they are on pasture all summer and hay as needed in the winter. Even when in heavy work-6 days a week-they don't get or need IMHO grain. Also, most are OTTBs, you know the "hard keepers" who currently look about ready to foal going in to winter. I would never say never, but almost never for my herd.