PLAIN FEEDS - THE BEST WAY TO GO
Premixed feeds – convenient and balanced – really?
Feeding horses and caring for horses in New Zealand conditions can be very challenging. Horse owners want to do the right thing nutritionally for their horses but it is a sea of information out there and we are barraged with advertisements for supplements and premixed feeds promoted as being "The best for your horse”. These are in reality often far from that. In fact some, when combined with out of balance pasture, are very damaging, leading to dangerous behaviours and significant health problems.
Horse owners report that they feed a premix because it "has everything in it and its easy” but then when asked if that’s all they feed, actually no, they add a number of things to that premix to get the results they want.
So why feed a premix? This system can result in double ups of minerals such as selenium, copper, potassium which are all potentially very harmful. A system of plain feeds and added balanced targeted supplements makes much more sense.
The old saying "less is more” is a good one to remember. Feed plain feeds and add the calories and minerals your horses need when they need them. This system avoids feeding of excessive protein, carbs, molasses and minerals that may already be in excess.
Then there’s the weather…
The weather plays a big role in the day to day behaviour of your horse. So often people report how their horse is great one day and not so the next.
Why is this?
Sun, rain, cloud, frost all impact on the mineral content of the grass in your horse’s pasture and this can vary from day to day resulting in an undesirable variation of your horse’s behaviour and health.
When horses are kept on a diet that is always the same (usually only achieved by zero access to pasture) they are virtually the same every day. Their personalities do not change.
People have become so accustomed to horses in this country being so changeable they think that is the way horses are!
I got a real feel for this when I visited the US 2014. We stayed in Colorado for 2 weeks then over the next 3 weeks, drove through Utah, Nevada, and Arizona then down to California. We clocked up 3500 miles. We got to see hundreds of horses on lifestyle block type properties and bigger ranches.
In Colorado we got to experience a ranch that had 50 horses that were kept on a large dry lot, separated into smaller yards and paddocks. They were fed hay and supplements. They all looked stunning and were so well behaved! Calm and contented. We also got to watch a number of kids lessons on the same ranch. There were groups of 10-12 riders. The horses and ponies were also a sight to behold. So happy and calm and healthy! It would be very unusual to get a group of horses in NZ like that! Everywhere we went horses were on large dry lots with hay feeders. Hundreds of them. Happy and content and looking amazing. Many farms had irrigated hay paddocks – as the rain fall was so low that irrigation was the only way to grow hay – but they didn’t graze the horses on this irrigated pasture. I asked about this and was immediately told there is no way anyone would do that as it was bad for the horses. I immediately thought – I'm living in the wrong country!
Unfortunately our beliefs here in NZ come from a farming background and are more appropriate to feeding cows and sheep. Rapid weight gain and high milk production are not exactly what most horse owners have in mind!
Plain feeds and Duwell supplements allow an owner to adjust feeding, on a feed by feed basis, to the changing workload, weather conditions or condition of the horse with no danger of double ups and leaving out anything harmful or unnecessary.