Some Thoughts on Feeding
Win Wolcott, President of the Phoenix Company
Supplementing your horses feeding program can be confusing at best, and downright intimidating at worst. What, other than hay, does my horse need? How much is too much? How much is not enough? Wouldn’t it be nice if you could provide an efficient, healthy program, and do so without wasting money and time? Perhaps you can.
Let’s look at just what a horse is designed to use as nutrition, and what fits into the digestive system. First off, a horse is a grazing animal. As they evolved they found the nutrition that they needed by eating what surrounded them in their environment in a fairly constant feeding process. Energy requirements beyond what is needed just to maintain body function was limited to the flight requirements that put them a safe distance from predators and to provide energy to raise their young. If a geographic area contained readily available food sources that met basic energy requirements, vitamin and mineral needs, and an abundant water supply the equine population flourished. Typically, feeding performance horses today has very little in common with that scenario, and for some very good reasons.
Horses in training for performance or being fitted for the show ring have additional energy requirements that need to be met on a daily basis. As a base energy source most of us use a roughage source like baled hay, or some variation thereof, to provide the bulk of our horses energy requirements. The challenge is what to use when more energy is required than can be met with just hay.
This is where concentrates come into the picture. Traditionally this means grain based feeds, and often lots of it. The challenge with this “traditional” feed support is that there is just not a place in the digestive system for more than a few pounds of high starch feed to be effectively utilized without causing a disruption of the whole system. Most feed companies are also brokers of grain to other markets, and putting a high amount of high starch grain into your horse gives them another place to sell the commodities that they own. This makes up most of the product lines that you see in your feed store today. While many “newer” products from the major manufactures tout that they are now providing a lower starch level, they still recommend that you feed between four and ten pounds of those products per day. If you feed once or twice per day, you are still overloading the system with a higher total starch load than we believe it is equipped to handle.
We have proven that raising natural vegetable fat levels and lowering the total starch load in the ration with our formulations allows us to provide your horse with the needed additional energy without confusing the digestive system. Natural function is the best function. Meeting supplemental energy needs with a one pound inclusion of Renew Gold, instead of five pounds of grain based feed clearly allows for a more natural function and a more effective result.
Renewing your horses feeding program by removing significant amounts of concentrate allows every element of the digestive system to function much nearer to its optimum level, and do more with less. This means less health risk, less vet bills and less spent at the end of the month for feed that contributes little or no support to the nutritional needs of your horse.