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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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just some general questions

Hey Dr. Getty

I have a couple general questions that I have been storing up while out horseshoeing. (PS Im having fun and starting to work on horses instead of just watch) Everyone has an oppinion and these are a few I thought I should check out.

What is the nutritional value of forage hay like? I have met several people who swear by forage (also called oat or three way hay out here). So I was wondering what it's nutritional content was like. There are two things that worry me: One is the grains it contains (starch levels) and the other is the sharp coverings on them, I worry about the horses mouths.

Next.. Can california alfalfa, grown with hard water, contain enough excess minerals to cause kidney stones? The horseshoer I work with swears alfalfa kills horses. (I am more inclined to believe your oppinion. He's an phenomenal farrier, but hes not a nutritionist).

Last, what are omega 9 fatty acids? What feeds do you find them in and how do they benefit a horse?

Thanks as always for your time and attention

PS Tequilas stitches will be removed on tuesday.

Where are you from? California

How did you locate this forum? google

Re: just some general questions

Hi Jamie,

Oat hay or even three-way hay (all hays are forage, not just these) is fine for many horses and has similar nutritional value as other grass hays. The problem is that it is much higher in Non-structural carbohydrates (starch) because there are generally pieces of grain in the hay. This would make the hay unsuitable for an overweight horse or one prone to laminitis.

If it has sharp thistles, it is of poor quality and I would not feed it.

Regarding alfalfa... Alfalfa is a very nutritious hay and even when grown in areas with hard water, it will contain higher levels of calcium and magnesium. This will not cause kidney stones. However, feeding only alfalfa, and no grass hay, can be problematic because of its high protein content and very high calcium content. So, it is helpful to balance out the diet by offering some bran (that is not fortified with calcium). And, if you are feeding a multiple vitamin/mineral supplement, it should be designed for alfalfa-based diets.

The high protein content of alfalfa needs to be improved by adding additional methionine to the diet, so the kidneys will not be overworked in an attempt to get rid of all the extra nitrogen.

So, ideally, alfalfa should be mixed with grass hays to provide a better balance of minerals, as well as protein quality.

About Omega 9 fatty acids... These are monounsaturated fatty acids (predominantly oleic acid) and are beneficial for the heart.

Thanks for asking! Glad to hear Tequila is doing well.

All the best,

Dr. Getty

Re: just some general questions

Tahnks for the info
What kinds of feeds contain omega 9 fatty acids?

Re: just some general questions

Hi Jamie,

Omega 9 (monounsaturated fatty acids) are found in seeds such as sunflower seeds and flaxseed meal.

Dr. Getty