Monday, December 12, 2016

How Many Feed Stores Does It Take to Feed Nimo?

One of my errands today was to stop by the feed store to pick up some oats and salt for Nimo because my supply is getting low (well, to be honest, I scraped the last bit of salt out of the bag for today's feedings, but I still have several days worth of oats left).  Of course, I couldn't get these items at just any feed store.  There is only one feed store in the area (CFC Home & Farm Center) that carries the Redmond Rock Crushed Salt and that same feed store happens to carry a product called hulless oats (also called naked oats by some seed companies).  Hulless oats are not the same as hulled oats, which are oats that have the hull removed.  My understanding is that removing the hull from oats does not significantly improve the digestibility of the oats, but the company that sells the hulless oats claims they have 30% more energy, a claim supported by this article that I found.  The article also states that hulless oats offer more nutritional consistency and that in addition to to the increased energy content on a per pound basis, they offer 48 percent more protein and 42 percent more fat.

I like the idea of using whole foods like oats rather than a commercial mix (although I use one of those too - see below) and I often find that regular bags of oats, even if they are cleaned still contain a lot of debris.  The hulless oats I buy are quite clean and they do look very consistent.  In the back of my mind, I'd kind of like to run my own nutritional test to see if the claims above are true, but for now, the appearance of the oats is enough to convince me that they are a good choice.

In addition to the oats, I also feed a small amount of Triple Crown Growth textured feed because I want a high protein, high fat feed with as low an iron value as possible.  I had previously been feeding a Tribute feed, but was shocked when I discovered how high the iron was in the feed line, with one feed as high as 390 ppm (horses only need something like 40 ppm in their total diets).  I haven't gotten to that part of my nutrition series (that I am so, so behind on), but I have become concerned about how much iron Nimo has been getting.  Virginia clay soil is often orange, indicating a significant iron component, and all of the hay he gets at the boarding stable is grown there or nearby.  Hopefully, I can explain a little bit more about why I am concerned in a later post, but even the 175 ppm of the Triple Crown Growth feed bothers me.  However, I am also concerned about the protein quality of the orchard grass hay supplied by the barn, and I wanted to address my concern in part by feeding something with a higher level of protein, so the TC feed seems like the best balance for now.  But unlike the Tribute feed I used to feed, the Triple Crown feed is only available from Southern States Cooperative.  There is luckily one only 15 minutes from my house, but it is nowhere near the other feed store which is near the barn.

I typically also get beet pulp from Southern States because they sell a kind that is GMO-free.  I realize that Dr. Garlinghouse reported no Round-Up residue in beet pulp based on a test she did (it was a comment on a post on the AERC Facebook page that I can't seem to find again), but I don't like the idea of Round-Up being used at all, so if I can find a feed that is produced without its use, I choose it when I can.

So that's 2 different stores so far.  Then there is the special hay Nimo gets.  I feed Standlee hay that is sold as small, compressed bales and typically bagged as well to help preserve quality and reduce the mess.  It is insanely expensive, so I don't feed a lot, but see my concern about the orchard grass hay above.  (I've also had terrible experiences buying regular bales of hay that are less expensive from a variety of feed stores.  I have become convinced that people wouldn't recognize good horse quality hay if it crawled down their shirts and itched them to death.  Because the Standlee hay is always good quality hay with lots of green color and lots of leaves and never moldy, it is worth the extra money to me.) 

Anyway, in combination with the concern about protein is the fact that orchard grass hay has an inverted calcium-to-phosphorus ratio.  Horses need at least a little more calcium than phosphorus and orchard grass hay has more phosphorus than calcium, so I feel the need to supplement with 1-2 flakes a day of alfalfa or alfalfa/grass mix hay to add calcium to Nimo's diet.  (How the other horses at the barn are still alive is a mystery to me, but without having the hay tested, I can only speculate that perhaps it isn't pure orchard grass or the horses get enough access to other grass or feed that compensates for the inverted ratio.)

Anyway, the Standlee hay is not available at the CFC feed store or Southern States.  Instead, I need to go to Tractor Supply.  Tractor Supply is only 15 minutes away, but it is not in the same direction as either of the other feed stores.  Sigh...It is however on the way to Starbucks and a craft store, so you know, there's that:)

So that's three stores.  And then there are the supplements.  I'm not using too many right now - mainly just the Redmond salt, but when Nimo is in heavy work, I will often add things like chia seeds (from Bio Star) and extra magnesium (from Platinum Performance).  Smartpak is on the list for supplements too, and if Smartpak carries something I want to use, I definitely go there first.  Although, I'm becoming more and more concerned about the amount of garbage that is generated by supplements in general and individually-packaged ones in particular.  I know it is the only option for many, many people, but I try to use bulk supplements whenever I can now and re-use containers for something else when possible to alleviate my guilt about polluting the planet.

So you see, Nimo needs 3 feed stores and up to 3 supplement vendors in addition to the hay and grass he gets at the barn.  It is possible that I am overly picky, but is it really too much to ask for a single feed store to carry all the stuff I need in one place?:)

Note:  None of the links in this post (or anywhere else on the blog, for that matter) are sponsored in any way.  I buy all my products with my own money and the only discounts I get are the ones available to the general public.  I provide the links for information only, in case you see something you'd like to investigate further.


  1. I get my feed from 2 different feed stores and the hay is brought in my my BO from a few different places. I get most of my supplements online. It'd be nice if there was a one-stop shop for all this stuff.

    1. I'm glad to hear that it isn't just me running all over to get feed and supplements, Olivia:)

    2. Gail, your post today had me spending 5 hours online researching minerals and feeds and prices and and and....the entire time I kept asking myself, why is this so much fun for me, creating a table with zinc, iron, copper, and manganese and comparing the ratios? And Vit A and Biotin in supplements, and the difference between grass hay pellets and luzerne pellets? And prices that the different firms come up with.

      Yesterday at the barn I saw a big sack of purple powder labelled, "Traubenkernpulver" and I had never heard of horses eating grape seed powder. Have you?

      And I found those "hull-less" oats you were talking about! I really doubted I'd find those here. "Naked oats."

      You have always brought me new feeding ideas, spouts, compressed hay!! and I love that about your blog. Not that my horse needs anything fancy, but it's so much fun to delve into the PPM and Mg/Kg and zinc/copper, ca:ph, and today I learned so much.

      Pelleted hay and pelleted luzern is more expensive than the "grain" pellets I feed. I feed 50 grams twice daily of a "waste product" grain pellet to get my horse to eat his vitamins. This by-product is cheaper than hay or grain pellets, wow. Of course, it's waste.

      And have you ever heard of Maize pellets? That is also something common here, the pellets made from the entire corn plant at harvest - leaves, stalks, corn husks, corn itself. Very inexpensive. I've seen the reaping process of corn for cattle corn silage, and was fascinated. But I didn't realize that horse people could buy 25 KG sacks of the stuff, after it had been made into pellets!! People here are deathly afraid of oats, but feed corn instead, and I shake my head. OAT FREE is the most seen label here. Corn is the replacement, *lol*

      Grass hay pellets will cost me 0.70 Euro per kg. My by-product based grain is 0.53 Euro per kg. Wow. Of course, cuz hay is more valuable than the husks of grains. Funnily, the grass hay pellets claim to include the bounty of 60 different types of plant. I'm like, "You mean, the weeds that grow there too?" Cuz ...60 types of plant? I saw a lot of clover listed as one of these extra plants, why would anyone want to include clover into the processed grass pellet? I think they are turning their scrappy circumstances into a sales pitch. Look, we have 60 varieties of plant in our hay pellet that we have imported from the healthful air of Bavaria. All of them worth your money." When we're talking about weeds that get scooped up too. If I'm wrong please let me know. If they advertise 60 types of herbs included in your grass hay pellet, ....

      You sent me to my day of internet research, and I see how many companies package by products in colorful "For your Horse's Optimal Health" sacks. But I feed by-product pellets cuz my horse doesn't need rocket fuel. I pay 14E for a 25 kilo sack of by product with some grain in there, but I feed a negligible 100 grams per day.

      Seriously, you killed my day Gail, but I loved it. I took 3 pages of notes, on paper.

      Please continue with your nutrition posts. I have no idea why, but I get all happy following you and your research around the internet.

    3. Wow, lytha! You definitely had a busy day! (And you made mine by being so enthusiastic!) Researching feeds is a black hole that I've fallen into many times. I always find that the more I research, the less I feel like I know, but like you, I do enjoy making the tables and thinking through the ratios and cost analysis.

      I have never heard of grape seed powder or maize pellets, so now you've given me some things to think about! And I smiled when you said that people near you would rather feed corn than oats - it's amazing how much geography impacts our thinking on what to feed our horses.

      With regard to your grass hay pellets with 60 species of plants - I think that is definitely worth looking into. I've seen reports that estimate wild horses consume up to 200 different types of plants, so biologically, horses are adapted to use nutrients from a variety of plants, rather than just one or two. I have big plans for my future pastures to include as many different horse safe plants as possible. In fact, some plants like dandelions and plantain (not the banana kind) that are often considered weeds by home owners are actually really nutritious and good for horses to eat.

      In terms of the clover specifically, in small amounts, clover is not a bad thing. It is a lucerne like alfalfa. Some varieties of clover here in the U.S. can cause horses to slobber a lot if they eat too much (think the typically tall yellow and white-flowered clover), so limiting access to those varieties is a good idea. However, other varieties (I think red clover, which is a short clover) can be really beneficial for horses. My dad and I were having that conversation a few months ago about clover for horses and it is probably worth looking into the varieties in the pellets to see what is in there.

  2. That is a lot of great info! My horse is a really easy keeper. Her only supplements to the barn supplied hay are Integrity Grain and California trace. I've been reading about the benefits of coconut oil, and I'm debating about adding it to her diet. As far as I know horses don't eat coconut in the wild, so I'm reluctant to do it. I have been giving it to my dogs for dry skin and it seems to help. Do you have any thoughts on coconut oil for horses, I am interested in hearing them if you do. Thanks!

    1. Kara, I actually wrote a post about coconut for horses a little over a year ago. Here's the link: I re-read it and still agree with what I wrote. To summarize, though, I find supplementing with dried coconut flakes (not the kind with added sugar) to be the best way to supplement with coconut for me. Oil can be messy and expensive (and it can be hard to find an oil that is of good quality) and because I board and make up feed bags for Nimo ahead of time, using the flakes is by far the least expensive and cleanest option for me. Another thing to remember is that coconut oil is liquid at 76 degrees and above and solid below 76 degrees. So it can be easier to manage when it is cooler.

  3. Thank you for the information! So helpful!!!😂