6 Myths About Feeding Horses
reprinted from talkingtohorses.com
Feeding horses can be complicated at the best of times so it is good to know the facts about some common myths surrounding this.
MYTH 1 – Feeding horses in raised containers and hay nets is healthier for my horse
FALSE – Horses are designed to eat off the ground. They have a lower jaw grinding system which is only activated when its head is down. Eating from a raised feeder or hay net results in a horse being unable to properly chew its feed, causing decreased saliva, higher risk of choke, improper tooth wear, and a higher risk of respiratory issues.
MYTH 2 – Bran Mashes are good for your horse and will avoid colic
FALSE – Any substitution of a horses regular feed is bad for them, including bran mashes. It could upset their digestive system, cause loose manure, and can cause colic in your horse. (source: Kentucky Equine Research – ker.com)
MYTH 3 – High Protein feeds will make your horse ‘hot'
FALSE – “There is no research to show a connection between feeding extra protein and “hot” behavior or excitability in the horse.
There have been studies showing that a diet high in soluble carbohydrates (starch and simple sugars) that are responsible for high glycemic response (rise in blood glucose and insulin) is related to more excitable behavior.” (source: Kentucky Equine Research – ker.com)
ULTIMATELY FEEDS THAT ARE HIGHER IN FAT CONTENT RATHER THAN CARBS ARE LESS LIKELY TO CAUSE AN AFTER MEAL SUGAR HIGH! (Source: Succeed-equine.com)
MYTH 4 – Beet Pulp based feeds must be soaked before feeding or your horse will explode or choke
FALSE – This is not correct, beet pulp can be fed dry and a horse cannot provide enough saliva to cause beet pulp to swell and cause choke in a horse. Feeding in raised containers, not enough water supply, and a horse not chewing their feed properly are the major contributing factors to a horse choking. Soaking beet pulp does make beet pulp more palatable.
MYTH 5 – A horse in hard work needs higher levels of protein in his diet
FALSE – Protein is a source to build muscle but is not a good energy source. So although the horse may need some extra protein as a building block for muscle growth and repair, CARBOHYDRATES AND FATS are infinitely better energy sources.
Furthermore some researchers feel that a diet which consistently delivers more protein than a horse needs can be hard on the kidneys and the liver (Source horseherbs.com)
MYTH 6 – Too much hay makes my horse ‘hot'
FALSE– The differences between Alfalfa hay and grass hay are a long subject to write about so I will give you the briefest summary. I advise you to research more for a complete picture.
If you are feeding grass hay you have little to worry about with regards to it making your horse hot as grass hays are lower in energy (carbs and sugars) - protein, lysine, calcium and some other nutrients - than alfalfa hay.
Get your hay tested so you know where it is lacking so you can adjust your horses diet to properly balance their needs.
Pure Alfalfa hay will have a much higher protein level. but it can also come with numerous issues when it is too concentrated, please research this.
An ideal situation is to feed a grass and alfalfa mix hay, however, many regions are unable to access alfalfa hay and can supplement by soaking Alfalfa cubes A great resource – https://alfalfa.ucdavis.edu