Whole Food Options to Boost Protein Quality

http://www.gettyequinenutrition.com/

Whole Food Options to Boost Protein Quality

By Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D.

Protein is not a popular subject. Most “nutrition-talk” revolves around carbohydrates – sugar and starch, to be specific, because they impact metabolic conditions that are a very real concern for many horse owners. We also talk about fat – types of fat, essential fatty acids, omega 3s, you know the terms – because horses require a daily supply of essential fatty acids and they also benefit from fat to fulfill high energy needs for weight gain and exercise.

 

But protein? Just check the “percent crude protein” and figure it’s enough, right? Not necessarily. There’s a lot more to it than that. To guide you, let’s start by looking at what happens to the protein in your forages and feeds, when your horse eats it.

 

Proteins in the feed are digested down to amino acids. There are 22 individual amino acids – “building blocks” your horse’s cells put together to create new proteins. There are literally hundreds of proteins in his body, all of which rely on not only enough total protein, but enough amino acid variability.

 

Forages have protein, but their variability is limited; they have lots of some amino acids and not much of others. If a single type of grass as hay or pasture is the only protein source in your horse’s diet, the pool of amino acids available to your horse’s body will be deficient in several amino acids, making it difficult for him to stay healthy.

 

Think of it like a beaded necklace

 

Imagine a bowl full of red, blue, yellow and green beads. You want to make a long necklace with a very specific color pattern. As you progress in stringing this necklace, you notice that you’ve run out of yellow beads. Uh oh… now you cannot make the necklace you planned. You either get more yellow beads, or you end up with a bracelet instead of a necklace!

 

Protein molecules are like long, beaded chains of amino acids, in a very specific order, depending on where the protein is located. Muscle protein looks different than joint proteins. Hemoglobin in red blood cells, looks different that digestive enzymes. The DNA within each tissue’s cells dictates the order of amino acids needed to produce that specific protein. If there are enough amino acids available, the protein can be created. If not, then that tissue goes without.

 

And what about all those unused amino acids – those red, blue and green beads?  Can’t they be saved for later in the hope that you’ll feed more “yellow beads?” Unfortunately, no. Instead, they get destroyed and cannot be used for protein synthesis. They can be used for energy, glucose production, or stored as fat, but that doesn’t meet your horse’s protein need

 

What about wild horses?

 

Horses in a wild setting travel for miles each day, grazing on a vast assortment of feedstuffs – grasses, legumes, flowers, fruits, berries, seeds, leaves, edible weeds, shrubs, and bark, offering a mixture of nutrients, including proteins. Can we duplicate this in a domesticated setting?  Not usually, unless you have many acres of untouched land. Therefore, our goal should be to improve the horse’s protein quality of the diet by offering more protein-rich feeds.

 

How do we know if we are creating a high-quality protein?

 

We need to pay attention to the amino acid profile of the entire diet. Of the 22 different amino acids, your horse’s body is only able to make 12. The remaining ten are considered essential, meaning the body cannot produce them, or cannot produce them in adequate quantity. Therefore, they must be in the diet. The 10 essential amino acids (EAAs) are methionine, arginine, threonine, tryptophan, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, valine, and phenylalanine.

 

We do not know the specific requirements of each EAA for horses. The only one that has been evaluated is lysine, because it is considered “limiting.”  This simply means that the amount of proteins produced will be limited by the level of lysine. If lysine is low, it’s like not having enough yellow beads (going back to our beaded necklace analogy).

 

There are two other limiting amino acids: methionine and threonine. Exactly how much the horse requires is unknown, but we do have an idea of the levels relative to the lysine content. The general thinking among equine nutritionists is that there should be 2 to 3 times more lysine than methionine, and threonine content should be about the same as lysine.

 

Most animal proteins are higher in quality than those found in plants. This means that they contain more than enough amino acid building blocks to build tissues for vital organs as well as peripheral, non-vital tissues. But horses do not naturally consume animal protein sources, so we have to get a little creative by mixing several plant protein sources so that they ultimately reflect the amino acid profile of an animal source.

 

Most grasses have a similar amino acid profile. Cool season grasses, such as timothy, brome, orchardgrass, rye, fescue, and Kentucky bluegrass, tend to have more amino acids than warm season grasses, such as the popular Bermuda and Teff.  To improve the protein quality, you can add a legume such as alfalfa (lucerne), clover, and perennial peanut grass (grown in some southern areas of the US).

 

Consider adding whole foods to the mix

 

Adding alfalfa to grasses will certainly help, but many horse owners choose to avoid it.  Or even if you do include it, the EAA content may not be sufficient for your particular horse. For example, feeding 18 lbs of grass hay plus 4 lbs of alfalfa may meet the EAA need of an average horse on light activity, but it may not if the horse has any compromised health issues.

 

Adding whole foods to your horse’s diet will not only improve the overall protein quality, but can add valuable vitamins, antioxidants, trace minerals, and fatty acids that your horse might not otherwise consume. Here are some examples:

 

1) Dehulled soybean meal. This is the most commonly added protein source to commercial products. Economical and rich in protein (47%), it is easy to see why it is used to boost the protein content of many feeds and ration balancers. But there are several potential problems with soy:

  • Its fat content is high in linoleic acid (an omega 6 essential fatty acid) and low in alpha linolenic acid (an omega 3 essential fatty acid). High amounts of linoleic acid in the diet can increase inflammation.
  • Its high phytoestrogen content could possibly impact horses’ behavior
  • It is goitrogenic, meaning it has the potential to damage the thyroid gland, making it important to monitor iodine intake.
  • Many horses are allergic to soy, exhibiting respiratory and skin issues.
  • Unless organic, almost all soy grown in the US is genetically modified to withstand being sprayed with the herbicide, RoundUp (Bayer). Glyphosate, its active ingredient has been implicated in potentially damaging the microbiome and interfering with mineral absorption.

 

2) Hemp seeds. High in protein (32%), they contain two main proteins:  albumin and edestin. Both have significant amounts of all EAAs. Some other aspects of hempseeds:

  • They have both essential fatty acids, linoleic and alpha linolenic acid (ALA), as well as a special fatty acid known as gamma linolenic acid (GLA). GLA belongs to the omega 6 family, but unlike the omega 6 found in soybean oil, it reduces inflammation rather than promoting it.
  • They are easy to digest, and highly palatable (great for the picky eater).
  • Can be found as a hempseed meal (with some of the fat reduced to make it appropriate for an overweight horse), or as the whole hemp seed fines, which include the ground up fibrous coating.

 

3) Flax seeds. With 18% protein, they make a good choice to include in the diet (make sure they are ground). But their real claim to fame is their essential fatty acid content which duplicates those naturally found in fresh, healthy pasture grasses. (Remember, the word, “essential” means that they cannot be made by the body and must be in the diet.) Adding flax will therefore, serve two benefits: provides necessary essential fatty acids, and offers a source of protein to boost overall protein quality in the diet.

 

4) Chia seeds. They are comparable to flax seeds in their protein content and nearly identical to flax in their essential fatty acid content. In fact, you can feed either ground flax seeds, or chia seeds, depending on your budget and your horse’s preference.

 

5) Split peas and pea protein isolate. Peas that are dried and split are a tasty way to add protein and crunch to the diet. They can be fed raw, but it is good to soften them a bit by soaking them in warm water for a few minutes. Though the protein content is high (24%), it doesn’t compare to the protein content of pea protein isolate, with 75% protein. I recommend adding pea protein isolate to the diet for horses who require extra protein due to aging, growth, intense exercise needs, pregnancy, and lactation.

 

6) Coconut (copra) meal. A good source of protein (20%), it is low in sugar/starch, and high in fat, from coconut oil, making it a good choice for a horse who is underweight or is heavily exercised. Keep in mind that the fatty acid content of coconut oil does not include essential fatty acids, necessitating supplementation from an additional fat source (such as flax or chia).

 

7) Pumpkin seeds. A tasty treat, supplying 34% protein, and a variety of vitamins and minerals, including a high amount of magnesium. They can be fed raw, hulled, or with the shells on.  When fed raw, they contain active digestive enzymes that are helpful for gastrointestinal tract.

 

8) Whey. Whey is a protein found in milk and is highly concentrated (80% protein). Because it is animal, and not plant, it is of very high quality. It can contain some lactose, and adult horses are lactose intolerant; therefore, they may develop loose manure.

 

9) Other feedstuffs:

  • Beet pulp is not concentrated in protein (only about 7%) but it is a worthwhile way to add a similar amount of calories as oats, without the concurrent insulin response that starch creates. It is a nice carrier feed for supplements. However, most beets grown in the US are genetically modified (GMO), so it is best to choose a non-GMO source.
  • Black oil sunflower seeds offer a similar level of protein as pumpkin seeds. However, they are very high in linoleic acid (omega 6) with virtually no omega 3s. Consequently, they can cause inflammation when fed in high amounts.

Please note: Whenever you add a new feed to your horse’s diet, it is important to starting slowly, taking two or three weeks to allow the hindgut microbial population to adjust.

 

Since each whole food has a difference density, the information below provides the volume measure equivalent to 4 ounces by weight of each product along with the protein grams.

 

  • Ground Hemp seeds: 1/2 cup; 30 grams of protein
  • Ground Flax seeds: 1 cup; 18 grams of protein
  • Chia seeds: 1/2 cup; 16 grams of protein
  • Split peas: 1 cup; 24 grams of protein
  • Pea protein isolate: 1/2 cup; 75 grams of protein
  • Copra meal: 1/2 cup; 20 grams of protein
  • Pumpkin seeds: 3/4 cup; 34 grams of protein
  • Whey: 1 cup; 73 grams of protein

 

How much protein does your horse require?

 

According to the National Research Council, protein requirements vary based on mature size, activity level, age of growing horses, and breeding status. On average, a 1100 lb (500 kg) adult horse at maintenance, will require a minimum of 630 grams of crude protein per day. As exercise increases, values can increase to approximately 1000 grams/day. Growing horses require more, and pregnancy and lactation can double the maintenance requirement.

 

But, and this is important… these values do not take into consideration that the amino acids in forages are not highly absorbed. The level of absorption is referred to as its biological value (BV).  The BV of pasture grasses and hays ranges from 45 to 80 percent.

 

That means that the NRC numbers may need to be increased by 20 to 55% to get a clear estimate of how much your horse is realistically absorbing. Here are some points to consider:

  • The higher the fiber, the lower the BV. If the NDF (neutral detergent fiber) value on your hay analysis report is much over 60% on a dry matter basis, the hay contains a large amount of fiber. In general, the more immature and softer the hay, the higher the BV.
  • Healthy, growing pasture grasses are higher in BV than they are during non-growing seasons.
  • If your horse is on ulcer medication (e.g., omeprazole, ranitidine, sucralfate), protein digestion and absorption will be diminished.
  • Inflammatory substances in the diet will diminish the protein’s BV. These can include vegetable oil/soybean oil, pesticides/herbicides, molasses, and high starch diets.

 

Bottom line

 

For your horse’s diet to contain quality protein, consider how many protein sources you are feeding. Adding one or more whole foods to hay and/or pasture will accomplish this goal. This will boost the essential amino acid content, allowing for every tissue in the body to get what it needs to thrive. Variety is key!

 

 

 

[1] Getty, J.M. 2018. Four directions amino acids can take – The importance of feeding several protein sources. http://gettyequinenutrition.biz/Library/theimportanceoffeedingseveralprote

 

 

Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D. is an independent equine nutritionist with a wide U.S. and international following. Her research-based approach optimizes equine health by aligning physiology and instincts with correct feeding and nutrition practices. Dr. Getty’s goal is to empower the horseperson with the confidence and knowledge to provide the best nutrition for his or her horse’s needs.

 

Dr. Getty’s fundamental resource book, Feed Your Horse Like a Horse, is available in paperback as well as in hardcover and Kindle versions. All except the Kindle version are available at www.GettyEquineNutrition.com— buy the book there and have it inscribed by the author. Print and Kindle versions are also available at Amazon (www.Amazon.com); find print versions at other online retail bookstores. The seven individual volumes in Dr. Getty’s topic-centered “Spotlight on Equine Nutrition” series are available with special package pricing at her website, and also at Amazon in print and Kindle versions. Dr. Getty’s books make ideal gifts for equestrians!

 

Find a world of useful information for the horseperson at www.GettyEquineNutrition.com: Sign up for Dr. Getty’s informative, free e-newsletter, Forage for Thought; browse her library of articles and tips; listen to recorded interviews; and purchase recordings of her educational teleseminars and webinars.

 

Find a variety of quality supplements and whole foods at her online Free Shipping Supplement Store[i]. Reach Dr. Getty directly at:

http://www.gettyequinenutrition.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. Getty’s Tip: Reduce Risk Of Infection When Traveling

JulieGoodnight.com Logo

www.GettyEquineNutrition.com

March 22, 2016

For many horses, this is the season for traveling to horse shows and events. Considering periodic outbreaks of equine herpes virus (EHV-1) and other infectious diseases, it is critical that your horse be in top physical health before embarking to an unfamiliar area. The foundation of that health is a strong immune system. Added antioxidants and supportive nutrients can have a positive impact on your horse’s ability to resist an infection.

Boost supplementation of the following nutrients per day for at least two weeks before you leave and throughout the travels or event; wean your horse off of them for two weeks following your return:

  • Vitamins E and C: 5 IUs of vitamin E and 5 mg of vitamin C per pound (0.45 kg) of body weight
  • Selenium: 3 to 5 mg of selenium
  • Vitamin A: 30 to 60 IUs per pound (.45 kg) of body weight
  • Omega 3 fatty acids: 1/4 cup chia seeds or 1Ž2 cup ground flaxseeds per 400 lbs (180 kg) of body weight
  • Protein: 14-16% of the diet, and of high quality protein by feeding a variety of protein sources
  • Magnesium: 5,000 mg of magnesium per 500 lbs (227 kg) of body weight
  • B vitamins: Provide a potent B complex preparation.

Be sure to check how much of these nutrients your horse may already be getting from commercial feeds and supplements, and calculate to add only enough to boost quantities as noted above.

Remember that stress suppresses immune function. An empty stomach is incredibly stressful — both mentally uncomfortable and physically painful. Protect your horse by allowing him to graze on hay (and pasture, if available) at all times, throughout the day and night. And never let him perform without some forage in his digestive tract.

Attention to increased nutritional needs will go a long way toward keeping your horse healthy during the time away from his familiar surroundings and routine.

 

Permission to reprint this article is granted, provided attribution is given to Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D. No editorial changes may be made without her permission. Dr. Getty appreciates being notified of any publication.

 

Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D. is an independent equine nutritionist with a wide U.S. and international following. Her research-based approach optimizes equine health by aligning physiology and instincts with correct feeding and nutrition practices.

 

Dr. Getty’s comprehensive resource book, Feed Your Horse Like a Horse, is available at www.GettyEquineNutrition.com — buy it there and have it inscribed by the author, or get it at Amazon (www.Amazon.com) or other online retail bookstores. The seven separate volumes in Dr. Getty’s topic-centered “Spotlight on Equine Nutrition” series are available with special package pricing at her website, and also at Amazon in print and Kindle versions. Dr. Getty’s books make ideal gifts for equestrians.

 

Find a world of useful information for the horseperson at www.GettyEquineNutrition.com: Sign up for Dr. Getty’s informative, free e-newsletter, Forage for Thought; browse her library of reference articles; search her nutrition forum; and purchase recordings of her educational teleseminars. Reach Dr. Getty directly at gettyequinenutrition@gmail.com. She is available for private consultations and speaking engagements.

 

AHP has not verified the factual statements in any message and AHP assumes no responsibility for the contents of, or any damage resulting from, any communication in the Newsgroup. Publication in the AHP Newsgroup is not an endorsement by the organization of any product, person, or policy. Complaints or concerns about the content of AHP Newsgroup postings should be directed to the originating individual or organization and not to AHP, which cannot resolve disputes arising between members. Complaints of copyright or trademark infringement may be addressed to the Executive Director.

Members may unsubscribe to the AHP Newsgroup at any time by sending an e-mail message to Chris at ahorsepubs@aol.com requesting to remove your e-mail address from the list. By doing this you will remove your name from receiving all future messages sent to the AHP-LIST until you contact us to re-subscribe.

Add Serving Of Caution To The Tender Spring Grass

JulieGoodnight.com Logo

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 17, 2016

www.GettyEquineNutrition.com

By Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D.

 

Spring is almost upon us in most of the country, so it’s time to revisit that critical topic: spring grazing.
Transitioning a horse from hay to pasture must be handled with care; this point is non-negotiable. For every horse, a gradual change from hay to grass is required to allow the digestive system to adapt, but for the insulin-resistant horse, grazing time and duration can make the difference between soundness and a disabling condition like laminitis. This time of year can be a test of patience for horse—and owner. The horse may be pawing at the gate to get to the first taste of tender spring grass, yet the owner must pay close attention to making the transition safe and healthful.

As the leaves form from the first spring sprouts, the sugar and starch content increases, making it especially tempting. Regardless of the growth stage, quantities should be monitored because horses crave fresh grass and will eat volumes of it, making their overall non-structural carbohydrate (NSC) consumption dangerously high for horses who are overweight, cushingoid, or who have experienced pasture-related laminitis.

Temperature and sunlight play a major role in the amount of NSC accumulation. To be safe, here are the rules:

  • When the night temperature is below 40 degrees F, the grass is too high in NSC.
  • Once it gets above 40 degrees F at night, the lowest NSC level is before the sun rises.
  • The NSC level is highest in late afternoon, after a sunny day.

 

There is no exact “best time” to turn out your horses on pasture. Generally speaking in moderate climates, it’s safest before dawn, until approximately 10:00 am, and then again at night, starting at around 11:00 pm. Start slowly, offering hay when horses are not on fresh grass.

Finally, test your pasture! Yes, testing is not only for hay. It will take the guesswork out of knowing which times are best.

 

Permission to reprint this article is granted, provided attribution is given to Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D. No editorial changes may be made without her permission. Dr. Getty appreciates being notified of any publication.

 

Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D. is an independent equine nutritionist with a wide U.S. and international following. Her research-based approach optimizes equine health by aligning physiology and instincts with correct feeding and nutrition practices.

 

Dr. Getty’s comprehensive resource book, Feed Your Horse Like a Horse, is available at www.GettyEquineNutrition.com — buy it there and have it inscribed by the author, or get it at Amazon (www.Amazon.com) or other online retail bookstores. The seven separate volumes in Dr. Getty’s topic-centered “Spotlight on Equine Nutrition” series are available with special package pricing at her website, and also at Amazon in print and Kindle versions. Dr. Getty’s books make ideal gifts for equestrians.

 

Find a world of useful information for the horseperson at www.GettyEquineNutrition.com: Sign up for Dr. Getty’s informative, free e-newsletter, Forage for Thought; browse her library of reference articles; search her nutrition forum; and purchase recordings of her educational teleseminars. Reach Dr. Getty directly at gettyequinenutrition@gmail.com. She is available for private consultations and speaking engagements.

 

AHP has not verified the factual statements in any message and AHP assumes no responsibility for the contents of, or any damage resulting from, any communication in the Newsgroup. Publication in the AHP Newsgroup is not an endorsement by the organization of any product, person, or policy. Complaints or concerns about the content of AHP Newsgroup postings should be directed to the originating individual or organization and not to AHP, which cannot resolve disputes arising between members. Complaints of copyright or trademark infringement may be addressed to the Executive Director.

 

Members may unsubscribe to the AHP Newsgroup at any time by sending an e-mail message to Chris at ahorsepubs@aol.com requesting to remove your e-mail address from the list. By doing this you will remove your name from receiving all future messages sent to the AHP-LIST until you contact us to re-subscribe.

What Is Vegetable Oil?

JulieGoodnight.com Logo

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
www.GettyEquineNutrition.com
February 23, 2016

What is “Vegetable” Oil?
by Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D.

The ingredient list is your most important source of information when evaluating a feed or supplement for your horse. Items within the ingredient list must be presented in a certain order. According to the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), the ingredient with the highest percentage of total weight must be listed first with all ingredients listed in descending order. However, under certain conditions, the manufacturer may list ingredients alphabetically, making it difficult to interpret concentrations. Also, feed items are often clumped together in one term.

This is typically the case with added fat. Many manufacturers will list fat content simply as “vegetable oil,” leaving you, the consumer, with absolutely no idea of the source. The only thing this tells you is that the fat is not of animal origin. But there are many vegetable oils available — the most commonly added ones are soybean, corn, and coconut oils. The majority of fatty acids in soybean and corn oils are in the omega 6 variety, which is inflammatory in high amounts when not balanced with omega 3s. Coconut oil does not contain any appreciable omega 3s or 6s, but it is easy to handle because it is solid (due to its highly saturated chemistry); however, research is unclear about whether it is safe for long-term consumption.

Ultimately, it is your responsibility to know what is in your horse’s feed. Call the manufacturer for clarification. Don’t guess when it comes to your horse’s health.
________________________________________________

Permission to reprint this article is granted, provided attribution is given to Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D. No editorial changes may be made without her permission. Dr. Getty appreciates being notified of any publication.

Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D. is an independent equine nutritionist with a wide U.S. and international following. Her research-based approach optimizes equine health by aligning physiology and instincts with correct feeding and nutrition practices.

Dr. Getty’s comprehensive resource book, Feed Your Horse Like a Horse, is available at www.GettyEquineNutrition.com — buy it there and have it inscribed by the author, or get it at Amazon (www.Amazon.com) or other online retail bookstores. The seven separate volumes in Dr. Getty’s topic-centered “Spotlight on Equine Nutrition” series are available with special package pricing at her website, and also at Amazon in print and Kindle versions. Dr. Getty’s books make ideal gifts for equestrians.

Find a world of useful information for the horseperson at www.GettyEquineNutrition.com: Sign up for Dr. Getty’s informative, free e-newsletter, Forage for Thought; browse her library of reference articles; search her nutrition forum; and purchase recordings of her educational teleseminars. Reach Dr. Getty directly at gettyequinenutrition@gmail.com. She is available for private consultations and speaking engagements.
________________________________________
AHP has not verified the factual statements in any message and AHP assumes no responsibility for the contents of, or any damage resulting from, any communication in the Newsgroup. Publication in the AHP Newsgroup is not an endorsement by the organization of any product, person, or policy. Complaints or concerns about the content of AHP Newsgroup postings should be directed to the originating individual or organization and not to AHP, which cannot resolve disputes arising between members. Complaints of copyright or trademark infringement may be addressed to the Executive Director.
Members may unsubscribe to the AHP Newsgroup at any time by sending an e-mail message to Chris at ahorsepubs@aol.com requesting to remove your e-mail address from the list. By doing this you will remove your name from receiving all future messages sent to the AHP-LIST until you contact us to re-subscribe.

Six Points To Consider Before Using A Calming Supplement

JulieGoodnight.com Logo

by Juliet M. Getty Ph.D. | Apr 29, 2015 |

Travel and competition season is upon us, and “show nerves” are common, even in horses. Agitated, nervous horses that are normally well behaved may benefit from a calming supplement. These products can contain vitamins, or minerals, or herbs, or amino acids. So, which to choose and how best to use them? Before making a decision, consider these important points:
•An empty stomach is the main cause for behavioral issues—forage (hay and/or pasture) should be available at all times.
•Magnesium deficiency may be the issue, since most horses don’t get enough of this mineral—if this is true for your horse, supplementing 5,000 mg of magnesium per 500 lbs of body weight will make a positive change in demeanor.
•A borderline B vitamin deficiency will affect behavior and can result when the hindgut microbial population is compromised by stress, high starch diets, illness, or antibiotics. Thiamin (vitamin B1) has been shown to be especially effective at high doses (1 mg per pound of body weight). Prebiotics that feed existing microbes also result in more B vitamin production.
•Tryptophan, an essential amino acid, leads to serotonin synthesis in the brain and can be useful in soothing a nervous horse. For this effect to occur, it is best to offer tryptophan as a paste between meals. When added to a meal, tryptophan will not be used for serotonin production and the calming effect will be significantly diminished
•Caution! Herbs such as chamomile, valerian, black cohosh, ginger root, and passion flower may have an over-tranquilizing effect, interact with other medications, and have side effects. Consult with your veterinarian before using.
•Additional caution to you competitors out there: Always check any supplements for ingredients prohibited by competition rules. Valerian is such an example.

Permission to reprint this article is granted, provided attribution is given to Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D. No editorial changes may be made without her permission. Dr. Getty appreciates being notified of any publication.

Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D. is an independent equine nutritionist with a wide American and international following. Her research-based approach optimizes equine health by aligning physiology and instincts with correct feeding and nutrition practices.

Dr. Getty’s comprehensive resource book, Feed Your Horse Like a Horse, is available at www.GettyEquineNutrition.com–buy it there and have it inscribed by the author. Or get it at Amazon (www.Amazon.com) or other online retail bookstores. The seven separate volumes in Dr. Getty’s topic-centered Spotlight on Equine Nutrition series are available with special package pricing at her website, and also at Amazon in print and Kindle versions. Dr. Getty’s books make ideal gifts.

Find a world of useful information for the horseperson at www.GettyEquineNutrition.com: Sign up for Dr. Getty’s informative, free e-newsletter, Forage for Thought; browse her library of reference articles; search her nutrition forum; and purchase recordings of her educational teleseminars. Reach Dr. Getty directly at gettyequinenutrition@gmail.com. She is available for private consultations and speaking engagements.

This spring! On May 2, 2015, hear Dr. Getty address issues in horse nutrition at the Kirkland House Foundation in Delta, British Columbia, sponsored by “Hay…Girl!” For more information on this event, contact Pam Janssen at precioushaygirl@gmail.com or call 604-961-7265.

How To Feed A Severely Neglected Rescue Horse

JulieGoodnight.com Logo

When we can offer a safe, caring home to a severely neglected horse, everyone in the horse world cheers. If you have recently adopted a rescue horse, let me first commend you for your actions. Saving a horse that is in desperate need of care and nursing him back to health can be one of the most gratifying experiences a horse owner can have. But you must be committed to giving him a lot of time and attention. The transition period is critical. He’ll need to be moved in and out of pasture throughout the day, fed hay nearly every couple of hours, and given frequent supplemental meals until he gets to where he can hold his own.

If your horse is very thin due to starvation, you will want to proceed slowly and with caution, giving his body a chance to adjust to change with each step. Some horses are in such poor condition they are unable to eat. In this extreme situation, your veterinarian will use a stomach tube to feed the horse. This is a short term procedure with the goal of getting your horse interested in eating again.

Ulcers can complicate the rehabilitation process. Retired race horses almost invariably have ulcers. Your veterinarian may prescribe an ulcer medication, but this can only be used for a month or so. The three long term components of healing an ulcer are: chewing on hay or pasture at all times, plenty of water, and reduction in stress.

Your ultimate goal is to allow your rescued horse to graze freely, as much as he wants, on hay and/or pasture. You’ll want his forage to include a legume such as clover or alfalfa. But take your time — you can’t just put him out on pasture right away if he’s been severely deprived. No matter how gratifying the sight of him grazing 24/7 will be, you must allow time for his digestive tract to adjust to the influx of food. The microbial population in his hindgut is not adequate for fiber digestion; too much, too soon and he may colic or founder.

Here is my recommendation for an 1100 lb horse (his normal weight):

  • Give him a probiotic, at a double dose, every day for approximately one month; then reduce the dosage to a maintenance level.
  • Start with 1 lb of grass hay every two hours, or pasture grazing for 30 minutes with an hour break in between. At night, leave him with 4 lbs of hay, plenty of water, and a plain, white salt block along with granulated salt, offered free-choice.
  • After 3 days, increase the amount of hay to 2 lbs per every two hours and give him 8 lbs of hay at night.
  • By the end of two weeks, he should be able to have hay available free-choice or graze on pasture 24/7. Be sure he has enough at night to last him throughout the night. There should be some hay left over in the morning.
  • Starting at week three, add alfalfa to his hay ration. Start with 1 lb per day for 3 days, and add one more pound every three days, until you reach a total of 8 to 10 lbs per day. If you’re not able to obtain alfalfa hay, get hay cubes. Break them into small pieces and let them soak for a few minutes. Feed them as a snack throughout the day.
  • Also starting at week three, you’ll want to begin feeding him 6 small meals each day. You can use a commercial senior or performance feed that contains 14-16% protein, at least 18% fiber, and at least 8% fat.  Each meal should contain:

o   4 cups feed  (weighs approximately 1 lb or .5 kg)

o   1/4 cup (60 ml) flaxseed meal  (stabilized, commercial product is best)

o   200 IU Vitamin E (you can get capsules in your local pharmacy)

o   Probiotic (double dose , spread over 6 meals)

o   500 mg of Vitamin C

Gradually decrease the number of meals, every two weeks, but increase the amount of feed in each meal so that by the end of one month, in addition to a full ration of forage, you are providing two to three meals per day, with no more than 4 lbs of feed per meal.  Maintain supplements and if your horse is older than 16, provide additional vitamin C.

The upside to the time and attention—in addition to seeing your horse regain his health and vibrancy—is that you will get to know your new horse very well, and together you will enjoy many good years ahead.

Permission to reprint this article is granted, provided attribution is given to Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D. No editorial changes may be made without her permission. Dr. Getty appreciates being notified of any publication.

Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D. is an independent equine nutritionist with a wide American and international following. Her research-based approach optimizes equine health by aligning physiology and instincts with correct feeding and nutrition practices.

Dr. Getty’s comprehensive resource book, Feed Your Horse Like a Horse, is available at www.GettyEquineNutrition.com–buy it there and have it inscribed by the author. Or get it at Amazon (www.Amazon.com) or other online retail bookstores. The seven separate volumes in Dr. Getty’s topic-centered Spotlight on Equine Nutrition series are available with special package pricing at her website, and also at Amazon in print and Kindle versions. Dr. Getty’s books make ideal gifts.

Find a world of useful information for the horseperson at www.GettyEquineNutrition.com: Sign up for Dr. Getty’s informative, free e-newsletter, Forage for Thought; browse her library of reference articles; search her nutrition forum; and purchase recordings of her educational teleseminars. Reach Dr. Getty directly at gettyequinenutrition@gmail.com. She is available for private consultations and speaking engagements.

This spring! On May 2, 2015, hear Dr. Getty address issues in horse nutrition at the Kirkland House Foundation in Delta, British Columbia, sponsored by “Hay…Girl!” For more information on this event, contact Pam Janssen at precioushaygirl@gmail.com or call 604-961-7265.

Dr. Getty’s Tip: Too Much Iron Can Be Detrimental To The Insulin Resistant Horse

JulieGoodnight.com Logo

Are you adding a supplement to your horse’s diet that contains iron? You may want to consider changing it if your horse is overweight, diagnosed with insulin resistance, or suffers from equine Cushing’s disease. Studies have shown a direct correlation between iron intake and insulin levels in the blood, making it an important factor in managing the diet for these horses.

Forages (pasture, hay, hay pellets or cubes) are already high in this mineral; therefore, supplementation is not necessary. Iron deficiency anemia is rare and too much iron can potentially lead to laminitis, as well as create an imbalance with other minerals.

Forages grown from acidic soils will be higher in iron. If you grow your own hay, or can discuss this issue with your hay provider, consider increasing the pH of the soil through lime application.  To protect your horse, have your hay analyzed and choose a vitamin/mineral supplement that does not include iron. Calculate the total iron intake in the diet; though an upper tolerable limit for all horses is 500 ppm, it should be far less for sensitive horses.  Soaking hay can remove much of the iron, but will also remove other minerals. Balance iron with zinc and copper:  iron should not be more than 5 times the level of zinc, and the zinc to copper ratio should range from 3:1 to 5:1.

Permission to reprint this article is granted, provided attribution is given to Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D. No editorial changes may be made without her permission. Dr. Getty appreciates being notified of any publication.

Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D. is an independent equine nutritionist with a wide American and international following. Her research-based approach optimizes equine health by aligning physiology and instincts with correct feeding and nutrition practices.

Dr. Getty’s comprehensive resource book, Feed Your Horse Like a Horse, is available at www.GettyEquineNutrition.com–buy it there and have it inscribed by the author. Or get it at Amazon (www.Amazon.com) or other online retail bookstores. The seven separate volumes in Dr. Getty’s topic-centered Spotlight on Equine Nutrition series are available with special package pricing at her website, and also at Amazon in print and Kindle versions. Dr. Getty’s books make ideal gifts.

Find a world of useful information for the horseperson at www.GettyEquineNutrition.com: Sign up for Dr. Getty’s informative, free e-newsletter, Forage for Thought; browse her library of reference articles; search her nutrition forum; and purchase recordings of her educational teleseminars. Reach Dr. Getty directly at gettyequinenutrition@gmail.com. She is available for private consultations and speaking engagements.

This spring! On May 2, 2015, hear Dr. Getty address issues in horse nutrition at the Kirkland House Foundation in Delta, British Columbia, sponsored by “Hay…Girl!” For more information on this event, contact Pam Janssen at precioushaygirl@gmail.com or call 604-961-7265.

Obesity. The Real Cause. The Real Fix.

JulieGoodnight.com Logo

Obesity is an epidemic problem with domesticated horses. Although we most easily attribute the problem to overfeeding concentrates combined with too little exercise, the underlying cause is much less apparent. It has to do with the horse’s brain and his response to stress — a chronic low-grade, inflammatory stress.

Stress tells the horse that he is not safe

Discomfort, from any source, induces a biochemical response in the brain that triggers the horse to do whatever he can to survive. Research with a variety of species has repeatedly shown[i] that stress tells the body to hold on to fat; the chemical changes that occur are similar to those produced during a famine. This is based on a primitive need to feel safe. Therefore, stress “tricks” the horse’s body into gaining weight just to survive.

Stress can come from many sources – stall confinement, isolation from buddies, sleep deprivation, change in environment, travel to strange locations, excessive training and performing, pain and illness, exposure to toxins, and the most stressful of all – not being allowed to graze on forage at all times. Forage restriction is incredibly stressful.[ii]  Putting the horse on a “diet” by limiting the amount of hay he can have will create a chain of chemical reactions that prevent the very outcome the “diet” was meant to ensure. Let’s look at more specifics…

Stress, cortisol, insulin, and leptin

Stress causes the adrenal gland to release the hormone cortisol. Cortisol tells the tissues to ignore insulin’s attempts to get glucose into the cells.[iii] So insulin increases to try to overcome this, but not very successfully. When insulin is elevated, the cells hold on to body fat. And when body fat increases, it releases a hormone called leptin. Normally, leptin is a good thing, but not in this case.

The brain can become resistant to leptin. Under normal circumstances, leptin (secreted from fat tissue), goes to the satiety center in the hypothalamus portion of the brain to tell it that the horse has had enough to eat and is satisfied.[iv] This is the body’s way of maintaining normal weight: fat increases, leptin rises, the brain says the body has had enough to eat, and weight comes down.

The excess body fat of obese horses promotes inflammation through its secretion of substances known as cytokines.[v] Cytokines can damage the areas within the hypothalamus that recognize leptin.[vi] Leptin is high, but the brain is not responding to it. The result? The appetite does not decrease; instead the horse keeps on eating, getting more obese, producing more cytokines, increasing inflammatory damage to the hypothalamus, resulting in greater leptin resistance.

Perhaps you’ve had your horse’s cortisol level checked and it is normal. You assume that stress is therefore not an issue. But this can lead to a false assumption. Cortisol can actually be elevated inside the cell and not in the bloodstream, due to the overexpression of an enzyme called 11-beta-hydroxysteroid-dehydrogenase-1, present in fat, liver and brain cells that produces active cortisol. This has been shown in several species, including horses,[vii] and leads to the vicious cycle resulting in hypothalamic damage.

The over-use of thyroid medication

Elevated cortisol can reduce T4 levels leading one to believe that thyroid medication is necessary. But reduced T4 under this circumstance is not an indication that the thyroid gland is underactive, nor is it an indication that more thyroid medication is needed to help the horse lose weight. Furthermore, adding T4 to the diet will not do any good if the horse is stressed, simply because excess cortisol interferes with the conversion of T4 to T3, the active hormonal form.

Horses with a history of long-term forage restriction

Some horses have suffered from forage restriction for so many years that their metabolic rate has become severely impaired. For these, modest, short-term weight gain can be a consequence of free-choice feeding. Be patient. The transition can take several months. Allow your horse time to become accustomed—both physically and psychologically—to this new way of eating. Healthy weight loss takes time. When fed following the steps outlined below, the large majority of horses, even those grossly overweight, will adjust, lose weight and in time, arrive at a healthy body condition.

Is your horse leptin resistant?

The leptin resistant horse will, first and foremost, have excess body fat. His appetite will seem insatiable and he will rarely lift his head from eating. His metabolic rate is sluggish, causing him to pack on the pounds very easily. He is reluctant to move and his energy level is low.

The fix

Reduce inflammation! Three factors to consider:

1) Stress reduction will calm down the cascade of hormonal events that tell the body to hoard fat.

2) Less body fat will create fewer inflammatory substances. Insulin (an inflammatory hormone) will also decline.

3) Less inflammation will help the hypothalamus return to a normal leptin response.

Important to understand: Once the horse loses body fat, the brain will initially remain leptin resistant, making the horse very hungry so he could gain back all the weight. Therefore, the approach must be to heal the inflammatory signaling in the hypothalamus.

To do this:

  • Never let your horse run out of forage, not even for a few minutes. Not only is free-choice forage feeding critical to your horse’s overall health[viii] , it also increases the metabolic rate.[ix] Feed appropriate hay and/or pasture that is low in calories, sugar, and starch.[x]
  • Add a comprehensive vitamin/mineral supplement to hay-based diets. It fills in nutritional gaps and reduces overeating to simply obtain enough nutrients.
  • Avoid processed foods. These can contain inflammatory preservatives and omega 6 fatty acids (typically from soybean and corn oils).
  • Feed whole foods free of additives and toxins.[xi] Whole foods can include non-GMO beet pulp, alfalfa, hay pellets, copra meal, split peas, hemp seeds, ground flaxseeds, chia seeds, blue-green algae, and various fruits and vegetables. Limit soybean meal — the long term impact of isoflavones (the phytoestrogen found in soy) on the thyroid gland is controversial.
  • Feed a variety of protein sources by mixing grasses and adding whole foods. When only one or two sources of protein are fed, the excess amino acids can be converted to glucose, potentially increasing insulin.
  • Eliminate excess sugar and starch. These include sweetened feeds, cereal grains, wheat middlings, and rice bran. They raise insulin as well as triglycerides. Triglycerides can bind to leptin in the blood stream and prevent it from signaling satiety to the brain.[xii]
  • Avoid high-omega 6 oils. They are highly inflammatory (e.g., soybean, vegetable, corn, wheat germ, and safflower oils).
  • Increase omega 3s. Feed ground flaxseeds or chia seeds. Fish oils can be included in cases of high levels of inflammation.
  • Add antioxidants. These include vitamins E and C, beta carotene (vitamin A), lipoic acid, grapeseed extract, green tea extract, spirulina,  as well as herbs including turmeric, boswellia, and ashwaghanda (which is particularly useful in combatting stress).[xiii]
  • Avoid prolonged use of H2 receptor blockers and proton pump inhibitors. They can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb nutrients and create rebound acid production upon removal.
  • Add a probiotic for digestive health. Horses who graze on pasture will naturally consume a variety of microbes. Hay-based diets, however, may not offer enough microbes for proper digestion of forage.  Stress can also disrupt the horse’s normal microbial flora.
  • Allow for movement. Exercise increases insulin sensitivity and lessens inflammatory cytokines.[xiv] It has also been shown to directly reduce hypothalamic inflammation.[xv]
  • Limit grazing muzzles. They can defeat the purpose if they cause stress. They should be limited to no more than 3 hours per day because the digestive tract needs more forage than they allow.
  • Consider slow feeders. Not all horses require them, but they are helpful initially to allow for slowing down intake.[xvi]
  • Keep stall confinement to a minimum, if at all. Horses who have room to roam can be as fit as those who receive daily focused exercise, and they are under far less stress.

Free-choice hay costs less

Many barn owners are reluctant to feed hay free-choice because of the apparent expense involved in purchasing more hay. But in actuality, horses who are permitted to self-regulate their intake will eat less. It’s only when several hours lapse between feeding that they eat very quickly and consume everything in sight. But when they get the message that hay is always available, that they can walk away from it and it will still be there when they return – then, and only then will they eat just what their bodies need to maintain a healthy weight. They will actually eat less than before.

Can your horse ever graze on fresh pasture again?

Absolutely! Living, healthy grass is the best whole food around. Grazing in the open air is the best stress reducer your horse can experience. The amount of grazing depends on your horse’s individual condition. Yes, pasture can be high in sugar and starch but it can vary depending on the month, the time of day, level of rainfall, sunlight, etc. Get to know your pasture grasses.

Bottom line

Turn off the body’s fat-hoarding response by taking measures to reduce stress. Combine this with an anti-inflammatory diet and increased movement, and your horse’s brain will regain its ability to respond properly to leptin. Taking off weight will become much easier.

For permission to reprint this article, in part or in its entirety, please contact Dr. Getty directly at gettyequinenutrition@gmail.com.

Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D. is an independent equine nutritionist with a wide American and international following. Her research-based approach optimizes equine health by aligning physiology and instincts with correct feeding and nutrition practices.

Dr. Getty’s comprehensive resource book, Feed Your Horse Like a Horse, is available at www.GettyEquineNutrition.com–buy it there and have it inscribed by the author. Or get it at Amazon (www.Amazon.com) or other online retail bookstores. The seven separate volumes in Dr. Getty’s topic-centered Spotlight on Equine Nutrition series are available with special package pricing at her website, and also at Amazon in print and Kindle versions. Dr. Getty’s books make ideal gifts.

Find a world of useful information for the horseperson at www.GettyEquineNutrition.com: Sign up for Dr. Getty’s informative, free e-newsletter, Forage for Thought; browse her library of reference articles; search her nutrition forum; and purchase recordings of her educational teleseminars. Reach Dr. Getty directly at gettyequinenutrition@gmail.com. She is available for private consultations and speaking engagements.

This spring! On May 2, 2015, hear Dr. Getty address issues in horse nutrition at the Kirkland House Foundation in Delta, British Columbia, sponsored by “Hay…Girl!” For more information on this event, contact Pam Janssen at precioushaygirl@gmail.com or call 604-961-7265.

[i] Block, J.S., He, Y., Zaslavsky, A.M., et. al., 2009. Psychosocial stress and change in weight among U.S. adults. American Journal of Epidemiology, 170, 181-192. Also, Gabriel, J., 2008. The Gabriel Method. Atria Books.

[ii] Getty, J.M. 2014. Restricting forage is incredibly stressful. Choose a different method to help your horse lose weight. http://gettyequinenutrition.biz/library/restrictingforageisincrediblystressful.htm

[iii] Tiley, H.A., Geor, R.J., and McCutcheon, L. J., 2007. Effects of dexamethasone on glucose dynamics and insulin sensitivity in healthy horses. American Journal of Veterinary Research, 68(7), 753-759.

[iv] Freidman, J., and Halaas, J., 1998. Leptin and the regulation of body weight in mammals. Nature, 395, 763-770.

[v] Wisse, B., 2004. The inflammatory syndrome: The roles of adipose tissue cytokines in metabolic disorders linked to obesity. Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, 15(11), 2792-2800.

[vi] De Git, K.C., and Adan, R.A., 2015. Leptin resistance in diet-induced obesity: The role of hypothalamic inflammation. World Obesity, (16(3), 207-224.

[vii] Farias, F.H.G., 2007. 11Beta-Hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase activity in feline, equine, and Ossabaw swine adipose tissue. Master of Science Thesis, University of Missouri-Columbia. Also, Morgan, S.A., Sherlock, M., Gathercole, L.L., et al., 2009. 11Beta-Hydroxysteroid Dehydrogenase Type 1 regulates glucocorticoid-induced insulin resistance in skeletal muscle. Diabetes, 58(11), 2506-2515.

[viii] Getty, J.M., 2014. Equine Digestion – It’s Decidedly Different. http://gettyequinenutrition.biz/TeleSeminars/TeleseminarBooks/SpotlightonEquineNutritionTeleseminarSeries.htm

[ix] Lestelle, LR., Earl, L.R., Thompson, Jr., et.al., 2011. Insulin-glucose dose response curves in insulin sensitive and insensitive mares and effect of overnight and long-term feeding regimen. Journal of Equine Veterinary Science, 31, 285-286.

[x] Getty, J.M., 2015. Do you need to analyze your hay? http://gettyequinenutrition.biz/library/doyouneedtoanalyzeyourhay.htm

[xi] Berkseth, K.E., Guyenet, S.J., Melhorn, S.J., et. al., 2014. Hypothalamic gliosis associated with high-fat diet feeding is reversible in mice: A combined immunohistochemical and magnetic resonance imaging study. Endocrinology, 155(8), 2858-2867.

[xii] Banks, W.A., Coon, A.B., Robinson, S.M., et. al., 2004. Triglycerides induce leptin resistance at the blood-brain barrier. Diabetes, 53(5), 1253-1260.

[xiii]Schell, T., DVM, 2015. Reducing the effects of stress and anxiety of health with ashwaghanda. Nouvelle Research www.nouvelleresearch.com

[xiv]Liburt, N.R., Fugaro, M.N., Wunderlich, E.K., et. al., 2011. The effect of exercise training on insulin sensitivity and fat and muscle tissue cytokine profiles of old and young Standardbred mares. Journal of Equine Veterinary Science, 31(5-6), 237-238.

[xv] Yi, C.X., Al-Massadi, O., Donelan, E., et. al., 2012. Exercise protects against high-fat diet-induced hypothalamic inflammation. Physiology & Behavior, 106(4), 485-490.

[xvi] Getty, J.M., 2014. The correct way to use slow-feeders. http://gettyequinenutrition.biz/library/thecorrectwaytouseslowfeeders.htm

Dr. Getty’s Tip: Calculating With PPM In Two Easy Steps

JulieGoodnight.com Logo

The trace mineral content of most feeds and supplements is provided in terms of parts per million (ppm). A ppm is the same as mg/kg (1 mg is a millionth of a kg).

To do calculations, you need to convert lb or oz to kg using the following conversions:

  • 1 lb equals 0.454 kg
  • 1 oz equals 0.0284 kg

Example #1: Your hay contains 140 ppm of iron.  How much iron is in 20 lbs of hay?

Step 1: 20 lb X 0.454 kg/lb = 9.08 kg

Step 2: 9.08 kg X 140 mg/kg = 1271 mg of iron

Example #2: Your supplement contains 12 ppm of selenium in each ounce and you are feeding 2 ounces per day. How much selenium are you feeding?

Step 1: 2 X .0284 kg/oz = 0.057 kg

Step 2: 0.057 kg X 12 mg/kg = 0.68 mg of selenium

Formulas to remember:

  • Convert lb or oz to kg: lb X 0.454 = kg; oz X 0.0284 = kg
  • Calculate to find mg: kg X ppm (or mg/kg) = mg

About Dr. Juliet M. Getty
Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D. is an internationally respected, independent equine nutritionist who believes that optimizing horse health comes from understanding how the horse’s physiology and instincts determine the correct feeding and nutrition practices. She is available for private consultations and speaking engagements. Hear Dr. Getty address issues in horse nutrition at the Kirkland House Foundation in Delta, British Columbia, sponsored by “Hay…Girl!” on May 2, 2015. For more information, contact Pam Janssen at precioushaygirl@gmail.com or call 604-961-7265.

Dr. Getty’s comprehensive resource book, Feed Your Horse Like a Horse, is available at Dr. Getty’s website, www.gettyequinenutrition.com, as well as from Amazon (www.Amazon.com) and other online book retailers. The seven separate volumes in Dr. Getty’s topic-centered “Spotlight on Equine Nutrition” series are also available at her website (where Dr. Getty offers special package pricing) and from Amazon (in print and Kindle versions) and from other online retailers. Dr. Getty’s books make ideal gifts for horse-loving friends.

Dr. Getty’s website, www.gettyequinenutrition.com, offers a generous stock of free, useful information for the horseperson. Sign up for her free monthly newsletter, Forage for Thought; browse her library of reference articles; search her nutrition forum; and purchase recordings of her educational teleseminars. Reach Dr. Getty at gettyequinenutrition@gmail.com.

Do You Need To Analyze Your Hay?

JulieGoodnight.com Logo

Many horses rely entirely on hay for their forage needs. Is hay nutritious? Not very. Hay is dead grass; it no longer contains many of the vitamins, omega 3s and omega 6s it once had as living pasture. It does, however, contain protein, carbohydrates, and minerals, and is a significant source of energy. But does it have enough to maintain health? Testing will help remove the guesswork out of diet planning.

Feasible approaches to testing

It is best to have at least 2 month’s supply of hay, but you may not have enough space to store that much. Or you may board your horse where a new supply is brought in every week, often from different growers.

Consider recommending testing to your barn manager or hay provider. Hay brokers who test their hay and sell it along with a guaranteed analysis often find that customers are willing to pay slightly more for each bale. If the providers are not willing to do this, you might consider offering to pay for the test; it will help you as well as other horse owners.

Knowing the nutrient content of your hay is the first step in evaluating any health concerns

While a vitamin/mineral supplement is necessary for filling in the nutritional gaps that exist in hay, there are several components of the hay analysis report that you should pay attention to, depending on the health of your horse. Of particular importance are those horses who are prone to developing laminitis. The feed value of your hay can also influence body weight, immune function, and overall body condition. The table below shows relevant indicators when interpreting your hay analysis report.

 

 Hay Analysis Values that Impact Horse Health 
Digestible Energy DE provides you with the number of calories your horse is getting from the hay, expressed as Mcals/lb or Mcals/kg. DE should be no more than 0.88 Mcals/lb (1.94 Mcals/kg) on an as-fed basis, if the horse is overweight.
Crude Protein CP tells you how much protein (nitrogen) is in the hay but tells you nothing about the variety and proportion of amino acids (which influence quality). To boost protein quality, feed a variety of grasses, and add more protein sources (e.g., ground flax, chia seeds, split peas, hemp seeds, alfalfa, beet pulp, etc.)
NDF Neutral detergent fiber measures water-insoluble, structural components within the cell wall: cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin; it does not include water-soluble fibers (pectin and mucilage). As plants mature, NDF increases, providing more bulk and less digestibility. Digestible energy and voluntary intake decreases.NDF greater than 60% is worthwhile for overweight horses since it is lower in calories. Lower NDF hays are softer and more digestible, making them appropriate for maintaining body condition of hard keepers, growing horses, and those with higher energy needs.

 

ESC + Starch Ethanol-soluble carbohydrates include simple sugars and short strands of sugars. These, along with starch, are easily digested in the foregut (small intestine) down to glucose, which signals insulin secretion.Insulin elevation promotes body fat storage and increases the risk of laminitis. Insulin resistant horses require low ESC + Starch, which should ideally be less than 10% on an as-fed basis, and less than 11% on a dry-matter basis. This also applies to horses suffering from PPID and PSSM.

 

Warm season grasses and alfalfa tend to be lower in ESC and higher in starch than cool-season grasses. Grain hays (such as oats, wheat, rye) can develop seed heads which are very high in starch.

WSC + Starch = NSC Water soluble carbohydrates mainly include ESC along with polysaccharides known as fructans which are fermented by the microbial population in the hindgut (cecum and large colon). Too much fructan fermentation reduces hindgut pH, leading to cecal acidosis, endotoxemia, and a cascade of events culminating in laminitis.[i]WSC + Starch equates to the non-structural carbohydrates (NSC) indicator. NSC that is considerably larger than ESC + Starch, indicates high fructans in the hay. Elevated fructans can be problematic for any horse, regardless of health. Cool-season grasses accumulate fructans, whereas warm-season grasses and alfalfa do not.

 

An NSC percentage less than 12% on an as-fed basis (13% on a dry matter basis), is a favorable target for the insulin resistant horse or one who is prone toward laminitis.

Ca:P Ratio Ideally, there should be twice as much calcium as phosphorus in the diet. Most grasses match this ratio. Alfalfa, however, has considerably more calcium. If you feed large amounts of alfalfa, choose supplements that are designed for alfalfa-based diets (they are low in calcium).
Ca:Mg Ratio Ideally, the calcium to magnesium ratio should be 2:1. Magnesium supplementation assists with muscle spasms, “sensitive” behavior, and insulin resistance.
Fe:Zn Ratio Most hays are high in iron so additional supplementation is not necessary. Too much iron exacerbates insulin resistance. Furthermore, iron competes with zinc for absorption. Therefore it should not be more than five times the level of zinc. Zinc deficiencies can lead to depressed immune function and poor wound healing.
Zn:Cu Ratio Excess zinc can interfere with copper absorption. Ideally, zinc should be between 3 and 5 times more than copper. Copper is required throughout the body, including healthy red blood cells, and melanin production in hair coat color.
Nitrates High nitrates can be toxic, interfering with red blood cell’s ability to transport oxygen. Test if your hay has been exposed to excessive fertilization or contains large amounts of weeds. Values should never be higher than 0.44%.

 

How to test your hay

Your goal is to obtain a representative sample, since hay bales can differ, especially if they contain mixtures of forages. Use a hay probe or pull clumps of hay from the inside of 15 to 20 bales. Mix together in a dry bucket. Then pull from the mixture enough to stuff a quart-size freezer bag. Equi-Analytical Labs is an excellent choice for your analysis[ii].

Establish a relationship with your hay producer

If you know the person who actually cuts the grass, discuss environmental factors that can significantly impact the NSC level:[iii]

  • NSC content is lowest before sunrise.
  • Cool nights (less than 40 degrees F (4 degrees C) will promote NSC storage and grass should not be cut the day following a cold night.
  • Grass that is shaded will have a lower NSC level.
  • NSC content increases during drought conditions.
  • Cuttings later in the season will be lower in NSC.
  • More mature grasses will be lower in calories, and more coarse due to a higher indigestible fiber content.
  • Grass that has gone to seed will be higher in starch.

Remember, forage 24/7 is the foundation for any horse

You can have the most expensive, most nutritious hay available, but it must be flowing, non-stop, through your horse’s digestive tract. There are many physiological and hormonal reasons for this; read more in the Getty Equine Nutrition Library[iv], as well as in Dr. Getty’s book, Equine Digestion – It’s Decidedly Different.[v]

About Dr. Getty
Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D. is an internationally respected, independent equine nutritionist who believes that optimizing horse health comes from understanding how the horse’s physiology and instincts determine the correct feeding and nutrition practices. She is available for private consultations and speaking engagements. Hear Dr. Getty address issues in horse nutrition at the Kirkland House Foundation in Delta, British Columbia, sponsored by “Hay…Girl!” on May 2, 2015. For more information, contact Pam Janssen at precioushaygirl@gmail.com or call 604-961-7265.

Dr. Getty’s comprehensive resource book, Feed Your Horse Like a Horse, is available at Dr. Getty’s website, www.gettyequinenutrition.com, as well as from Amazon (www.Amazon.com) and other online book retailers. The seven separate volumes in Dr. Getty’s topic-centered “Spotlight on Equine Nutrition” series are also available at her website (where Dr. Getty offers special package pricing) and from Amazon (in print and Kindle versions) and from other online retailers. Dr. Getty’s books make ideal gifts for horse-loving friends.

Dr. Getty’s website, www.gettyequinenutrition.com, offers a generous stock of free, useful information for the horseperson. Sign up for her free monthly newsletter, Forage for Thought; browse her library of reference articles; search her nutrition forum; and purchase recordings of her educational teleseminars. Reach Dr. Getty at gettyequinenutrition@gmail.com.

[i] Longland, A.C., and Byrd, B.M., 2006. Pasture nonstructural carbohydrates and equine laminitis. Journal of Nutrition 136: 2099S-2101S.

[ii] Equi-Analytical Labs www.equi-analytical.com, a division of Dairy-One, is a reputable laboratory that concentrates on analyses applicable to horses. Their Equi-Tech test (#601) is economical ($28) and comprehensive, offering an excellent amount of information.

[iii] Watts, K.A., 2004. Forage and pasture management for laminitic horses. Clinical Techniques in Equine Practice, 3(1), 88-95.

[iv] Click on “Library” at www.gettyequinenutrition.com

[v] One of seven volumes in the Spotlight on Equine Nutrition Series: http://gettyequinenutrition.biz/TeleSeminars/TeleseminarBooks/SpotlightonEquineNutritionTeleseminarSeries.htm

Dr. Getty Urges: “Don’t Let Your Horse Develop An Ulcer!”

JulieGoodnight.com Logo

by Juliet M. Getty Ph.D. | Jan 22, 2015 |

Dr. Juliet Getty never stops urging horse owners to “feed your horse like a horse,” for the simple reason that a horse, fed according to his physiology and instincts, will be healthier. Dr. Getty often speaks about free choice forage feeding as the first line of defense against ulcers, but there is more an owner can do to protect his horse from the pain and stress of this condition.

“For many reasons,” says the Ph.D. equine nutrition expert, “a steady, constant supply of forage keeps your horse’s digestive system healthy, but it’s especially important in ulcer prevention.” Some basic anatomy knowledge reveals why: Unlike in the human, the horse’s stomach secretes acid all the time, even when empty. Chewing creates saliva, a natural antacid. If left without food, horses will chew on whatever they can, even their own manure, to neutralize the acid that is causing them physical pain and mental discomfort. And if left with absolutely nothing to chew on, the horse will commonly develop ulcers.

Horses in the wild do not get ulcers. The diet and lifestyle we impose on our horses are to blame for this disabling condition. The good news is encouraging, according to Dr. Getty, who reminds horse owners, “We have the ability to prevent ulcers through proper feeding and stress reduction.”

In addition to offering forage, free-choice, Dr. Getty suggests horse owners consider these protective feeding guidelines:
•Avoid oats and other cereal grains (corn, barley, wheat, rice, etc.). Starchy feeds can lead to ulcers by stimulating stomach cells to produce more acid and encouraging acid production through bacterial fermentation. In addition, grains move through the stomach quickly, leaving an empty stomach that is vulnerable to acid.
•Feed beet pulp instead of cereal grains. It has as many calories as oats without the propensity for acid production found with starch.
•If you feed extra fat, choose the right type.Vegetable oils, such as soybean and corn oils, are the most popular fat sources but they promote inflammation due to their high omega 6 content. Instead, choose vegetable sources that are high in omega 3s such as flax (meal or oil) or chia seeds, to actually reduce the inflammation experienced with ulcers.
•Provide high-quality protein.Legumes such as alfalfa, soybean meal, and split peas will complement the rest of the diet, offering enough amino acids (building blocks of protein) to allow for proper maintenance and healing. Plus, alfalfa hay should be offered to any horse who is prone toward developing an ulcer (such as during stall confinement) because it is an excellent buffer.
•Feed the hindgut microbial population. Fermentation products and yeast feed the microbes living in the hindgut (cecum and large colon). This makes digestion more efficient and promotes B vitamin synthesis to heal the digestive tract.
•Offer additional B vitamins.Stress (from pain or difficult situation) uses up B vitamins at a rapid rate. Offer a B-complex preparation that includes all 8 B-vitamins but that does not have added iron (there is plenty of iron in forage and supplementation is rarely needed).

You know what stresses your horse

An unfamiliar environment, loss of a buddy, stalling, training, travel, and performance can result in more acid production. Did you know that a horse that is moved into a stall after being used to pasture turnout is likely to develop a gastric ulcer in less than a week? Make adjustments to your horse’s lifestyle that would reduce stress. Even a horse that appears calm can have an ulcer.

The best way to avoid an ulcer is to allow your horse to be a horse

And the best way to do that is to give him pasture turnout – the more time the better. It not only gives him a steady supply of forage, but it lets him walk around, have a chance to run and buck, and visit with other horses. I realize that it is not always feasible to give your horse all the turnout he wants, but keeping hay in front of him at all times while confined will go a long way toward protecting his digestive system.

Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D. is an internationally respected, independent equine nutritionist who believes that optimizing horse health comes from understanding how the horse’s physiology and instincts determine the correct feeding and nutrition practices. She is available for private consultations and speaking engagements. Hear Dr. Getty address issues in horse nutrition at the Kirkland House Foundation in Delta, British Columbia, sponsored by “Hay…Girl!” on May 2, 2015. For more information, contact Pam Janssen at precioushaygirl@gmail.com or call 604-961-7265.

Dr. Getty’s comprehensive resource book, Feed Your Horse Like a Horse, is available at Dr. Getty’s website, www.GettyEquineNutrition.com, as well as from Amazon (www.Amazon.com) and other online book retailers. The seven separate volumes in Dr. Getty’s topic-centered “Spotlight on Equine Nutrition” series are also available at her website (where Dr. Getty offers special package pricing) and from Amazon (in print and Kindle versions) and from other online retailers. Dr. Getty’s books make ideal gifts for horse-loving friends.

Dr. Getty’s website, www.GettyEquineNutrition.com, offers a generous stock of free, useful information for the horseperson. Sign up for her free monthly newsletter, Forage for Thought; browse her library of reference articles; search her nutrition forum; and purchase recordings of her educational teleseminars. Reach Dr. Getty at gettyequinenutrition@gmail.com.

Hemp Seeds Rival Soybeans In Protein Quality

JulieGoodnight.com Logo

by Juliet M. Getty Ph.D. | Jan 16, 2015 |

Soybean meal is the most commonly added protein source in horse feeds. However, increasing numbers of horse owners are shying away from feeding it, most commonly because of allergic reactions. Most soybeans grown in the U.S. have been genetically modified, which is a concern for many. Furthermore, it is difficult to ascertain from a feed label if the soy product has been heat-treated (necessary for inactivating trypsin inhibitor found in raw soybeans). Finally, soy contains significant levels of phytoestrogens, which may influence behavior, affect breeding, or interact with other hormones.

The good news about soybeans is their protein quality — it compares favorably to protein found in animal sources. But there are other good choices, the most promising of which is hemp seed.

Understanding protein quality

Proteins are long, complex chains of amino acids. Once protein is digested, the amino acids travel to tissues, where they are “reassembled” into proteins specific to that particular part of the body, assuming all of the building blocks (amino acids) are available. Your horse can synthesize some amino acids, but there are 10 that your horse cannot produce, or cannot produce in adequate quantity, and therefore, they must be in his diet (listed in Table 1). These are referred to as essential amino acids (EAAs).

Most feeds contain some protein, and therefore, some EAAs, but if any EAAs are present in low amounts, they limit the extent to which the others can be utilized, resulting in leftover amino acids. And, unfortunately, amino acids cannot be stored to be used later. Instead, they are dismantled by the liver, putting strain on the kidneys to remove urea, and contribute to excess calories and even glucose production.

Hemp seeds

A relatively new food to western cultures, hemp seeds have exceptional protein quality. Their two main proteins are albumin and edestin, both of which have significant amounts of all EAAs. The protein in hemp seeds is comparable to that in soybeans and, in many cases, exceeds the EAA content of the animal protein, whey (found in milk), as shown in Table 1.

Table 1: Essential Amino Acid (EAA) Comparison between Hemp seeds, Soybeans, and Whey (grams per 100g)1
EAA Hemp seeds Soybeans Whey
Methionine 0.58 0.53 0.23
Arginine 3.10 2.14 0.39
Threonine 0.88 1.35 1.02
Tryptophan 0.20 0.41 0.25
Histidine 0.71 0.76 0.29
Isoleucine 0.98 1.62 0.85
Leucine 1.72 2.58 1.40
Lysine 1.03 1.73 1.15
Valine 1.28 1.60 0.91
Phenylalanine 1.17 1.78 0.49

Hemp seeds rival soybeans as an ideal protein

What’s even more impressive, however, is the ratio of each EAA to the lysine level – a true measure of protein quality. With horses, quality is determined by comparing each EAA to lysine as it would exist in muscle2. Lysine is assigned a value of 100. The ideal values are shown in Table 2, which reveals how every EAA found in hemp seeds surpasses the ideal ratio beyond soybean’s ability.

Table 2: Ratios of EAAs to Lysine, Compared to Ideals3
EAA Hemp seeds Soybeans Ideal
Methionine 56 31 27
Arginine 301 124 76
Threonine 85 78 61
Tryptophan n/a n/a n/a
Histidine 69 44 58
Isoleucine 95 94 55
Leucine 167 149 107
Lysine 100 100 100
Valine 124 92 62
Phenylalanine 114 103 60

Hemp seeds are easy to find in stores that sell whole foods. Horses enjoy their palatable, nutty flavor. Adding ½ cup (providing 25 grams of protein) to your horse’s daily ration will boost the overall protein quality of his diet.

Hulled (shelled) hemp seeds can be expensive, however. A more economical option is to buy whole hempseeds and grind them yourself. To obtain the same level of protein, measure approximately twice the volume.

Bottom line

Domesticated horses cannot easily enjoy the variety of feedstuffs a natural setting provides. Even the healthiest grass pasture may not meet every nutrient requirement. Offering whole foods such as hemp seeds on a regular basis gives you another option for meeting your horse’s protein needs.

Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D. is an internationally respected, independent equine nutritionist who believes that optimizing horse health comes from understanding how the horse’s physiology and instincts determine the correct feeding and nutrition practices. She is available for private consultations and speaking engagements.

Dr. Getty’s comprehensive resource book, Feed Your Horse Like a Horse, is available at Dr. Getty’s website, www.GettyEquineNutrition.com, as well as from Amazon (www.Amazon.com) and other online book retailers. The seven separate volumes in Dr. Getty’s topic-centered “Spotlight on Equine Nutrition” series are also available at her website (where Dr. Getty offers special package pricing) and from Amazon (in print and Kindle versions) and from other online retailers. Dr. Getty’s books make ideal gifts for horse-loving friends.

Dr. Getty’s website, www.GettyEquineNutrition.com, offers a generous stock of free, useful information for the horseperson. Sign up for her free monthly newsletter, Forage for Thought; browse her library of reference articles; search her nutrition forum; and purchase recordings of her educational teleseminars. Reach Dr. Getty at gettyequinenutrition@gmail.com.
•Callaway, J.C. 2004. Hempseed as a nutritional resource: An overview. Euphytica, 140. Pages 65-72. Printed in the Netherlands.
1.National Research Council. 2007. Proteins and amino acids. Nutrient Requirements of Horses, Sixth Revised Edition. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press. Pages 64-65.
2.Hemp seed and soybean values were calculated by dividing each EAA level by its lysine level (1.03 for Hemp seeds; 1.73 for Soybeans; shown in Table 1)

Your Mare’s Pregnancy: Nutrition For The Final 3 Months

JulieGoodnight.com Logo

by Juliet M. Getty Ph.D. | Dec 18, 2015 |

During the first 8 months of pregnancy, your mare may be fed like any other horse, with a balanced, quality diet. But things are changing rapidly during this last stage of pregnancy: She requires more calories, more protein, more omega 3’s, and balanced vitamins and minerals, not only for the unborn foal but also to prepare for milk production. Lactation places huge demands on the mare’s body; proper nutrition will ensure she completes her nursing duties in good health.

Grass hay or pasture should be provided ‘round the clock; she should never run out. If allowed to self-regulate her intake, she will likely consume 2.5 to 3.5 percent of her body weight as forage. Alfalfa hay should also be included to balance her protein needs. Alfalfa should never be fed exclusively (due to potential mineral imbalances). Strive for a 60:40 ratio of grass hay to alfalfa hay. The fetus gains 1 pound per day during these final three gestational months. Hay alone will not meet all the mare’s caloric needs. Furthermore, hay is missing many vitamins that would be found in living, fresh grass. A quality commercially-fortified feed designed for broodmares will meet her nutritional needs as long as it is fed according to recommended amounts. Or you can mix your own feed by offering beet pulp, hay pellets, ground flaxseeds or Chia seeds, and other whole foods, along with a comprehensive supplement that provides balanced levels of vitamins, and minerals such as copper, zinc, and manganese, as well as selenium and iodine.

These months are also critical to fetal development. Researchers from the University of Florida revealed that foals’ exposure to the omega 3 fatty acid, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), in utero and early lactation can positively impact cognitive function and learning success. For more on this, read Dr. Getty’s Research Reflection, “Omega 3 Supplementation During Pregnancy Improves Learning Ability” or read it on Dr. Getty’s website under Research Reflections.

Attention to nutrition will help the mare maintain strength and health in this final stage of pregnancy as well as be ready for the significant demands of milk production and nursing.

Permission to reprint this article is granted, provided attribution is given to Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D. No editorial changes may be made without her permission. Dr. Getty appreciates being notified of any publication.

Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D. is an independent equine nutritionist with a wide U.S. and international following. Her research-based approach optimizes equine health by aligning physiology and instincts with correct feeding and nutrition practices.

Dr. Getty’s comprehensive resource book, Feed Your Horse Like a Horse, is available at www.GettyEquineNutrition.com — buy it there and have it inscribed by the author, or get it at Amazon (www.Amazon.com) or other online retail bookstores. The seven separate volumes in Dr. Getty’s topic-centered Spotlight on Equine Nutrition series are available with special package pricing at her website, and also at Amazon in print and Kindle versions. Dr. Getty’s books make ideal gifts—check her website for holiday specials.

Find a world of useful information for the horseperson at www.GettyEquineNutrition.com: Sign up for Dr. Getty’s informative, free e-newsletter, Forage for Thought; browse her library of reference articles; search her nutrition forum; and purchase recordings of her educational teleseminars. Reach Dr. Getty directly at gettyequinenutrition@gmail.com. She is available for private consultations and speaking engagements.

Added Fat Improves Behavior

JulieGoodnight.com Logo

February 11, 2016
www.gettyequinenutrition.com

Added Fat Improves Behavior
by Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D.

Diet affects behavior. This makes sense. A well-fed horse is healthy. And a healthy horse feels good. Conversely, a poorly-nourished horse is suffering. A variation in hormone levels, for example, can have a temporary effect on how the horse sees the world. Just as reaction to sugar intake varies in humans, so it does in horses. Horses may feel ill or “off” from an overindulgence in sugar/starch, and they certainly have been reported to exhibit “sugar highs and lows” caused by the sudden surge and subsequent drop in blood glucose from a high carbohydrate (sugar/ starch) meal. Although there is, in fact, little scientific evidence that proves a sugar/starch-driven behavioral component, many horse owners will attest to their own horses showing adverse behavioral responses and will therefore avoid feeding anything that contains starchy cereal grains or is sweetened with molasses.

There are plenty of good reasons beyond the scope of this article to avoid high sugar/high starch diets, but in terms of behavior, what alternative does a horse owner have if the horse simply needs more calories to meet the added demands of exercise, work, and performing? Hay and grass simply cannot provide enough energy (calories) to support these additional requirements.

The answer is fat.

Gram for gram, fat provides more than double the calories of carbohydrates or protein. And it is well digested. But there’s an added bonus! Fat has a calming effect on horses’ behavior.

Researchers at Virginia Polytechnic Institute noticed that horses fed a high fat diet are less reactive to startling stimuli and had lower levels of excitability and anxiety than horses fed a more traditional grain-based diet. The horses in their experiment received 15% of the total calories from fat, which is high for most horses. However, the study reveals that fat is worth trying if you have a sensitive horse who may become easily excited by everyday activities. (Please note: Ponies, minis, donkeys, and mules should not receive high fat diets.)

What type of fat?

All fat has the same number of calories, regardless of the source. But from a health perspective, it is best to steer clear of animal fats, as well as oils that are have too many omega 6’s (which increase inflammation) in relation to omega 3’s (which have an anti-inflammatory effect). Oils high in monounsaturated fatty acids are a good source since they neither increase nor decrease inflammation.

Below are some commonly fed fat sources:
• Ground flax seeds and flax seed oil: Has a 4:1 ratio of omega 3’s to omega 6’s, making it an ideal choice
• Chia seeds: Has similar omega 3 to omega 6 ratio as flax
• Canola oil: 10% omega 3’s and relatively low in omega 6’s. Also contains monounsaturated fatty acids (no harmful impact on inflammation)
• Rice bran oil: Only 1% omega 3’s, less than 50% omega 6’s and high in monounsaturated fatty acids
• Copra meal and coconut oil: Not a source of omega 3’s and omega 6’s but rather medium chain fatty acids which may be beneficial when added to an omega 3 source
• Soy lecithin: Only 4% omega 3’s but also contains choline, a helpful component of neurotransmitters
• Soybean oil: Only 7% omega 3’s and mostly omega 6’s (less desirable choice)
• Corn oil: No omega 3’s and higher in omega 6’s than soybean oil (poorest choice)

How much?

I prefer to limit fat intake to no more than 10% of the total calories, though some athletes are fed levels as high as 20%. For the lightly exercised, mature 1100 lb (500 kg) horse, the National Research Council recommends a minimum total diet of 20 Mcals per day to maintain body condition. Ten percent would be 2 Mcals per day from fat. One cup (8 fluid ounces or 240 ml) of oil will meet this requirement. It weighs 240 grams and at 9 kcals/g, provides 2.16 Mcals.

How to add?

When adding any amount of oil to your horse’s feed, start with a small amount (say, one tablespoon or 15 ml). Most horses do not like oily feed, but more important, it takes several weeks for the horse’s cells to become accustomed to metabolizing more fat.

Summary

Short attention span, spookiness, reluctance to work, excessive sensitivity and alertness to surroundings, irritability, and “hot” behaviors can be reduced by adding fat to the diet. Fat is high in calories, so limit the amount you feed based on the horse’s weight and his caloric need. Omega 3’s need to be in balance with omega 6’s, so choose oils carefully. And finally, build up to desired intake by starting slowly and increasing over 4 to 6 weeks.

Permission to reprint this article is granted, provided attribution is given to Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D. No editorial changes may be made without her permission. Dr. Getty appreciates being notified of any publication.

Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D. is an independent equine nutritionist with a wide U.S. and international following. Her research-based approach optimizes equine health by aligning physiology and instincts with correct feeding and nutrition practices.

Dr. Getty’s comprehensive resource book, Feed Your Horse Like a Horse, is available at www.GettyEquineNutrition.com — buy it there and have it inscribed by the author, or get it at Amazon (www.Amazon.com) or other online retail bookstores. The seven separate volumes in Dr. Getty’s topic-centered Spotlight on Equine Nutrition series are available with special package pricing at her website, and also at Amazon in print and Kindle versions. Dr. Getty’s books make ideal gifts for equestrians.

Find a world of useful information for the horseperson at www.GettyEquineNutrition.com: Sign up for Dr. Getty’s informative, free e-newsletter, Forage for Thought; browse her library of reference articles; search her nutrition forum; and purchase recordings of her educational teleseminars. Reach Dr. Getty directly at gettyequinenutrition@gmail.com. She is available for private consultations and speaking engagements.

1Source: Holland, J.L., Kronsfeld, D.S., and Meacham, T.N. 1996. Behavior of horses is affected by soy lecithin and corn oil in the diet. J. Animal Sci., 74 (6), 1252-1255.

2Find more dietary approaches for improving horse behavior in “Feeding and Behavior,” found under Teleseminars at www.gettyequinenutrition.com.

3“Ponies, minis, donkeys and mules metabolize fat more economically than horses and are prone toward weight gain and the insulin resistance that results from obesity. Therefore, it is best to avoid adding large amounts of fat to their diets.” This and more information on special feeding for these types of equids can be found in Feed Your Horse Like A Horse by Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D., available at www.gettyequinenutrition.com and Amazon.com.

________________________________________
AHP has not verified the factual statements in any message and AHP assumes no responsibility for the contents of, or any damage resulting from, any communication in the Newsgroup. Publication in the AHP Newsgroup is not an endorsement by the organization of any product, person, or policy. Complaints or concerns about the content of AHP Newsgroup postings should be directed to the originating individual or organization and not to AHP, which cannot resolve disputes arising between members. Complaints of copyright or trademark infringement may be addressed to the Executive Director.
Members may unsubscribe to the AHP Newsgroup at any time by sending an e-mail message to Chris at ahorsepubs@aol.com requesting to remove your e-mail address from the list. By doing this you will remove your name from receiving all future messages sent to the AHP-LIST until you contact us to re-subscribe.

Safety Concerns: Introducing To New Herd, New Feed

JulieGoodnight.com Logo

Question Category: Safety Concerns

Question: Hi Julie,

I am going to be moving my quarter horse mare (4 yr old) from a stall barn to a 3 acre pasture with 2 other mares who are 3 and 5. I was wondering if I should be thinking about how to introduce her to the other 2 horses or should I let them work it out? Also, she has been fed 2x per day on a dry grass/alfalfa mix and now she will have real green grass to eat (although the pasture is fairly sparse), should I be concerned about her diet change? They will still feed 2x per day grass hay, as the pasture is fairly bare.

One more question, I am going to get her shots done (west Nile and 3 way) 2 days after I move her. Will the stress of the move and food change have any effects on the shots?

Thank you so much for your help. I love reading your website and saw you at the horse expo in Denver last March. Very impressive!

Answer: Introducing horses to a new herd always comes with a risk that a horse might be injured while they sort out the new pecking order. Whenever possible, the horses should be introduced gradually by putting them in adjacent pens where they can first get to know each other over the fence (make sure it is a safe fence).

Another way to handle this is to put the new horse with one of the other horses, let them get to know each other, then introduce another, and so on until everyone is acquainted. Of course, you do not always have options and most of the time, when you put a new horse in, there is a little bit of a ruckus then things settle down. If there is one or more horse in the group that is very aggressive, dominant or a bully, then be very careful and supervise the introductions so that if things get out of hand, you can disrupt the herd and separate the horses (only expert hands should do this as it can be very dangerous).

Be very careful putting any horse onto green pasture and always introduce them slowly. This sudden change in diet from very bland dry hay to rich green grass can cause both digestive upset and grass founder (laminitis). It doesn’t sound like your pasture is very lush, so it may not be a problem at all. If they have to work fairly hard to get the grass, it is probably not going to cause a problem. If they are still feeding the horses a full ration, there is probably not enough grass there for the horse to get sick on. Still, anytime a horse’s feed is changed, it should be done gradually over a week or two and the horse should be watched closely during that time for any signs of sickness.

As for the inoculations, I try not to vaccinate horses during any time that they may be hot and bothered or upset. Chances are slim that the vaccine would cause a problem, but why risk it? Sometimes horses will feel a little off after inoculations, so why add to their grief? I don’t think two days later is an issue, but I wouldn’t do it at the same time you are introducing her to the herd. It has been said that it is best not to give West Nile at the same time as other inoculations, if it can be avoided. If your vet is coming out to give the shots, then she will probably give them all at the same time because it is not a big enough issue for her to make another trip. As always when you inoculate, make a note of where the shot was given and when (i.e., 5/5/05 WNV left hip) so that if the horse later develops any problems, you have the info you need. Also, whenever horses are inoculated, there should be a shot of epinephrine on hand in case a horse has an anaphylactic reaction to a shot. Finally, inter-nasal strangles vaccine should never be given on the same day as shots are given to the horse because the risk of the horse blowing out the vaccine onto his body or another horse’s body, and then the vaccine being injected into him with another shot and getting an abscess, is too high.

I hope your transition to a new facility goes smoothly.

JG

Copyright ©Julie Goodnight 2000. All Rights Reserved. No part of this website may be reproduced without owner’s express consent.