Are you having a hard time deciding whether or not you need to supplement your horse’s nutrition? While many horse owners opt to supplement by default, it’s not always necessary, and can sometimes cause issues with toxicity. If you want to be smart about supplementation, here are a few ways to know when it’s time to give your horse supplements.
The most obvious reason to supplement is because your horse is diagnosed with a deficiency. For example, regular grass hay is lower in protein than legumes such as alfalfa, and lower quality hay may not have enough protein to support a horse’s nutritional needs. If your horse starts showing signs of protein deficiency, such as a poor hair coat, slow hoof growth, and muscle loss, you will need to either change his feed or supplement with an additional source of protein.
If your horse starts showing signs of a deficiency, you can always have your hay analyzed to determine its nutritional content (and hopefully the reason for the deficiency). You may also choose to do this as a preventative measure, or to ensure the hay you’re buying is worth the money you’re paying. You can find information online about the typical horse’s daily nutrition requirements, and compare that to what he’s actually getting from his feed to determine what horse supplements are needed to meet his daily nutritional requirements.
Doing a hay analysis might reveal that your horse’s hay isn’t meeting his needs in one area or another, but what if your horse isn’t getting sufficient nutrition from his food for some other reason? General daily vitamins may be advisable in cases like this, at least until your horse is able to get enough nutrition from his feed again (if that’s a possibility). For instance, a horse that has been sick for a long time likely isn’t eating enough to get all the nutrients their body needs, whereas a horse with intestinal worms might be eating plenty but not actually benefiting from the nutrition. Obviously in these cases the illness or worms needs to be treated as well, but horse supplements can help support his body in the meantime, and hopefully facilitate his recovery.
While you should be cautious of “snake oil” miracle cures, which are just as prevalent in horse supplements as they are for humans, there are occasionally very real reasons why you might want to add a supplement even if your horse doesn’t have a diagnosable deficiency. For example, biotin is the building block for both hooves and hair, so adding a biotin supplement can improve hoof quality and growth in a horse with poor hooves, as well as make the hair coat healthier. Likewise, a horse prone to colic could benefit from probiotics, while supplements such as glucosamine may provide pain relief for joint issues, just as in humans.
If figuring out nutritional content and calculating what your horse needs each day sounds to you like you’ll need an advanced degree just to figure it out, you’re not alone. Fortunately, you can make feeding much less overwhelming by switching to a complete pelleted feed. In addition to being much less messy and wasteful than hay, pelleted feeds have guaranteed nutritional content. Sacate Pellet Mills makes several different pelleted feeds, so that no matter what your horse’s needs, we have a feed for him. For more information, contact Sacate Pellet Mills today.