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

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Ask the Nutritionist: Dr. Getty's Forum for Equine Nutrition
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Can you answer my query. I am an expat in an South East Asian country, we hav some horses here that are being fed "Gold Coin" feed from Malaysia. Their horse feed is made up as follows:

Crude Protein 15 - 17
Crude Fibre max 8.0
Crude Fat min 2.5
Moisture max 13.0
Ash max 8.0
Calcium 0.8 - 1.2
Phosphorus 0.6 1.0

The above feed is given daily along with cut local grass which is "tropical" of no nutritional value and as a satoria type grass I believe bad for horses as can cause "big head" long term. they have no addition of calcium in the feed apart from what is already contained in the pellets.

This is a very hot tropical country and there is no addition of electrolytes in their feed.

The only addition of fibre is the same tropical grass that has been airdryed and cut up into a chaff like consistence.

Many of the horses have suffered and died of colic over a period of the past two years. The horses main use is as riding school horses, dressage/jumping but they are all ex polo horses. Some of the horses are actually still used for polo.

As a rider and horse lover I would like to help the company with getting the feeding correct. I feel that this feed is far too high in protein and the horses are getting far too little fibre.

The cut grass they get is only about 5kgs fresh a day.
and is bad for them anyway. They get no hay! just the pellets from gold coin.

Any advice you can give would be appreciated to be able to educate these people in correct feeding as many of the horses lost to colic were very good horses.

Where are you from? Brunei

How did you locate this forum? internet


Hello Lee,

Your concerns are valid and I’ll be happy to give you a few suggestions. If you feel you can have some input into changing the way horses are fed in your area, that would be wonderful.

From what you describe, it sounds as though the overall diet is too high in phosphorus and too low in calcium, hence the “Big Head” condition you described. Also, the fiber level is too low.

I am not familiar with the type of grass you mentioned, however, if colic is the outcome of their grazing, this grass may be toxic or filled with a large amount of lignin – tough, woody material.

The protein content does not concern me as much as the other problems, though it is slightly on the high side. When it comes to protein, I am more concerned about the quality of the protein. In other words, does it contain adequate amounts of essential amino acids lysine and methionine. These amino acids are generally balanced in a diet that includes grasses and legumes.

To feed these horses properly would take a major change in their feeding regimen. They should be:
1. taken off of this pasture, since it seems to be hurting them more than helping,
2. provided with good quality grass and legume hays throughout the day,
3. receiving a complete multiple vitamin/mineral supplement to balance out their diet and provide the correct mineral proportions,
4. offered a iodized salt lick to replenish their electrolyte needs,
5. fed more fat for their increased energy needs, and
6. fed a pelleted feed that is low in starch, higher in fat and fiber, and slightly lower in protein (12-14% is fine for adult horses).

I hope this helps! Good luck!

Dr. Getty