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Ask the Nutritionist: Dr. Getty's Forum for Equine Nutrition

   Welcome to my forum. 

Here you will find more than 6 years of questions and my answers. It is searchable and offers a great deal of information. 

Currently, I am discontinuing new questions. This may change in the future, but in the meantime, please know that It has been a true pleasure serving you. 

Take a look at my Nutrition Library and Tips of the Month for a variety of answers on selected topics. Be sure to sign up for my monthly e-newsletter, Forage for Thought

I also have a growing number of recordings on "Teleseminars on Nutrition Topics that Concern You" as well as the new, Spotlight on Equine Nutrition Series -- printed versions of favorite teleseminars.

And finally, look for my articles in a variety of local publications and online newsletters, as well as the Horse Journal, where I am the Contributing Nutrition Editor.  


All the best,

 Dr. Getty 


Ask the Nutritionist: Dr. Getty's Forum for Equine Nutrition
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All pellets vs hay

Dr. Getty,
I have read that feeding alll pellets vs hay can cause problems for a healthy horse, such as digestion, stomach shrinkage, cribbing because of hunger, etc.
Is it dangerous to switch, and is it dangerous once they're on it, to return to grazing if a pasture becomes availabe? I have read that it can lead to bloating. Will it cause an older horse to choke, as some grains cause our mare to choke. We have three horses, a 2 yr old filly, a 4 yr old gelding, and a 23 yr old mare.
I was considering a bermuda/alfalfa mix pellets.



Where are you from? Young, AZ

How did you locate this forum? Internet search

Re: All pellets vs hay

Hi Vince,

Hay and/or grass is necessary for a horse’s digestive health. If you feed hay pellets, they are certainly getting forage, however, pellets are easier to chew and therefore, eaten more quickly. So, they are likely to go many hours without anything to eat, which can lead to ulcers, cribbing, and even colic.

So, since you now have pasture available, you should go ahead and let them graze. They may initially experience some gas distention from fermentation, so you can let them build up the amount of time they spend eating pasture. However, while they are in a dry paddock, you should offer them a grass hay. And, once each day, you can add some alfalfa to the mix.

The Bermuda/alfalfa pellets can be used as a meal to ideally be mixed with some other energy source such as beet pulp, flaxseed meal, stabilized rice bran, and/or supplements.
I would not recommend feeding grain.

I hope this helps clarify things.

All the best,

Dr. Getty