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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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feed companies

Hi again,
After reading your forum I came to realize that grains are not good for horses(corn,barley)which I didnt know (my horses and I thank you)which leads me to my question, why are all these feed compainies producing feed with all these grains as the main ingredient.They are basicaly scientists coming up with those specially formulated recipies for horses so the can have the best feed possible? I'm stumped.
I bought a bag of senior/hardkeeper feed and the ingredient list only to find out that it main ingredients were grain not beetpulp or alfalfa etc..
Could you mabey shed a little light on this subject if possible.
Thank You
You are a awesome source of advice

Where are you from? canada

How did you locate this forum? internet search

Re: feed companies

HI Jenni,

It's true that traditionally, feeds have been high in starch but that is changing. Now, if the first ingredient is "grain by products" that is not the same as grain. Actually it is high in fiber and low in starch. So, that may be misleading and a lot of feeds are made from these by products, which is fine.

But, many horse feeds are still made from oats and corn, and even barley which is only appropriate for a horse that is exercised heavily and can handle the increased starch in the diet. But, even then, it's important to not feed too much at one time.

So, to answer your question -- it's tradition and people are adverse to change. But, the newer feeds are lower in starch than the older ones, in many cases.

Thanks for writing!

Dr. Getty

Re: feed companies

I had someone say that oats, barley and corn is a great mix for my horse and ponies that get free choice hay and supplements, but are mainly in a field. From what I am reading these grain should not be fed to horses.

Where are you from? Vermont

How did you locate this forum? looking up nutrition on google

Re: feed companies

Hi Kristi,

Horses that are worked on a regular basis can tolerate small amounts of grain for energy. However, horses' digestive systems were never meant to have large amounts of grain. Because we tend to overfeed high starch feeds (in the form of grain, sweet feeds, and pelleted feeds that are grain-based), we encounter very serious problems, mainly in the form of colic and laminitis. Growth problems in young horses are also attributable to high starch diets.

Horses need to have forages as the mainstay of their diets. They need hay and/or pasture at all times, clean water, exercise, and some additional energy source to account for their activity needs. This can best be met by such things as beet pulp, flaxseed meal, stabilized rice bran, soybean meal, and oils.

I also think that it is a good idea to supplement the diet with an overall vitamin/mineral supplement to fill in any gaps.

Thanks for asking this very important question!

Dr. Getty