improve your quality, if you have to stretch your current supplies or if
you need supplements for a combination of these two reasons.
Protein content should be considered since the fiber portion
of a horses diet should be at least fifty percent of their
total intake. You may need to look into a grain source with
higher protein levels if you have to feed your horses
considerably lower-quality hay than you normally feed. The
reverse is also true, but you probably wonít have to worry
about it during the winter.
Not only is the proper nutrition found in complete feeds with protein, vitamins
and minerals but they also have the right amounts of fiber. If you are extending
or improving your hay resources then these products will work well. However,
they canít act as a complete replacement for any length of time since they lack
the sufficient fiber content. It is still recommended that you have some
Good gut motility is assured with proper fiber length in addition to maintain
the Ďscratch factorí or the horses innate desire to meet their fiber
requirements. Horses will develop bad habits when this requirement isnít met
such as wood chewing.
In the past many cubes contained one hundred percent alfalfa. However, the
market now has cubes that offer different combinations such as alfalfa and
timothy or alfalfa and whole corn plants. Although since the legumesí binding
properties help to retain the cube integrity they still have to be about fifty
Hay is well supplemented through cubes and these cubes can also work as a
complete hay replacement since they give the proper fiber length. However,
alfalfa pellets lack the fiber length so they are not the best option for fiber
The advantages of vitamins, minerals and added energy are found in complete
cubes like complete feeds, but they also have the proper fiber length. However,
many complete feeds lack the fiber length of the complete cubes.
For a few years chopped forages have been available and continue to be an
excellent option when it comes to supplementing or replacing hay. This option
allows you to feed straight timothy product which is something you donít get
with cubes and they still have the necessary fiber length. With this option hay
is chopped to about two inches and then has molasses and corn oil added. While
chopped forages are complete diets they do not have the fortification of
vitamins and minerals.
Some owners choose alternatives such as beet pulp or soy hulls but these will
need additional nutritional management that isnít required with the complete
cube option. A rapid change in fiber has been shown to be the leading cause of
colic according to a recent research study. Most horse owners know that it is
important to change grain rations slowly. This also applies to fiber products
and it perhaps even more important.