For those that are looking to switch off grain for their horses or already have, there can sometimes be confusion as to what forage pellets/cubes are the best to use.
To make it more confusing, you have those that we are supposed to trust to know what is best for our horses and those that are trained in a different way that find out some truths as to how foods are processed or really what they contain.
Thanks to a recent video I wanted to do on Facebook, it led me to research a bit deeper and I was honestly disgusted to learn what some people think is okay to feed our horses. So, below is some really important information. I encourage you to do further research yourself as well. And remember, every horses is an individual and should be treated as such.
Timothy or Orchard: I prefer Standlee: This is hay that is ground and pelleted. The pellets are low in protein (8%), high in fiber, and are designed for mature and overweight horses as well as horses with metabolic issues. Forage first grows the forage plant to the proper maturity stage, then cuts, dries, and bales the forage into conventional bales for storage. The forage is stored to prevent any damage or bleaching associated with exposure of the forge to sun or inclement weather. Throughout the year, this baled forage is ground, mixed with steam, and pushed through a dye with pressure to form the pellet. Once made, pellets are dried to a moisture level that allows proper storage.
Orchard Grass is higher in protein (10-12%), higher in calorie content and contains the same balanced levels of calcium and phosphorus as Timothy grass. The higher calorie content of Orchard Grass is a result of higher fiber digestibility compared to Timothy Grass.
Alfalfa: This is one forage that is always controversial. The go-to for underweight horses. Alfalfa is high in protein, Excess energy has been implicated as a cause of developmental orthopedic disease in growing horses. Alfalfa hay contains too much calcium and/or magnesium. The high calcium level causes a high calcium:phosphorus ratio which may contribute to developmental orthopedic disease. Alfalfa, an herb with weak estrogen-like actions similar to the effects of soy. We now know this is very bad for women, intake varies but we are not connecting the dots to our horses. Many horses are so hormonally imbalanced and developed illnesses such as cushings. .This is a pellet that needs to be monitored along with making sure your horses, both mares and gelding are getting overloaded with both protein and estrogen. Another factor is the way the alfalfa expands, if not soaked long enough, it could expand in the throat and cause choke. I personally will never feed alfalfa. Click the link to read about the processing. https://www.desialis.com/en/dehydration-process-alfalfa#:~:text=Reduced%20by%2075%25%20to%2050,10%25%20moisture%20and%20then%20crushed.
Beet Pulp: "The filler" This has always been a huge NO for me. First off, you have to soak out the sugar out. I have witnessed lots of horses choke and some people say they don't soak it at all. Beet pulp has no real nutritional value and the processing of it is awful. Let's start here; Due to beet pulp's relatively high calcium and low phosphorus levels, feeding too much could imbalance the calcium to phosphorus ratio in the diet, which could interfere with normal bone development in young horses. It's GMO, which is just YUCK right away for me. The processing is awful. When separating (sic) the sugar from the pulp chemicals and bleaches are used ie. it is the whitening process, and the left over scrap is the pulp. It is an insoluble fiber, meaning that it does not interact with the body.
Again, I encourage you to research but go down the rabbit hole a bit because most of what we initially see on google, is what they want us to see. And as with everything, there are arguments, even with science, on both sides. Where does that leave us? It leaves us with having to make very hard decisions. Whether you get advice from your vet, holistic practitioner, nutritionist, herbalist, homeopath. This is what I know to be fact! Horses are foragers and meant to eat FOOD. Whole foods, nothing process or genetically modified. They aren't meant to eat grains. They are meant to eat plants.
Shouldn't we know where their nutrients are coming from? Shouldn't their nutrients come from actual food/plants? I am not a vet but I am a active researcher and certified in many holistic modalities. I have seen herbs work and whole food diets do things that horses on grain would never experience. Healing, not curing. Healing, balancing the body, mind and soul.
And most importantly, weight and a shiny coat are not an indicator of health. Knowing that, we can delve into things that will make improvements starting internally.
~Debbi, The Natural Equine
Holistic Horse Care