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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. 

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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.

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All the best,

 Dr. Getty 


Ask the Nutritionist: Dr. Getty's Forum for Equine Nutrition
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To Feed or Not to Feed?

Hello Dr. Getty,

I was blessed with a new foal last September. She is now 4 months old. She is 13hh and 500 (or so) lbs. She is not fat, but has a good covering over her ribs, with a thick chest and bum. Her dam is my 15.2hh Perch/TB cross mare, and her sire was a 15.2hh Paint stud.

In conjunction with my vet, I have not been supplementing her with creep feed as yet. I overfed my mare's first foal and had a bout of epiphisitis with him, so I am worried not to do that with this one. She is much larger than the first foal though, and I am concerned she may be ready for some supplementation?

My mare is still nursing her (I am leaving her do this as long as the mare is acceptable until spring if possible) and she has been eating her fair share of hay since about 2 months old. She is growing steadily, but it being the middle of winter here, I wonder if she may need something more?

My horses live outside 24/7, have free choice hay (a timothy mix, very little alfalfa), and free choice Hoffman's mineral (,which the baby does nibble at with the other horses. I was supplementing my mare with Purina's Evolution Maternity ( the last 3 months of her pregnancy until the baby was about 6 weeks old, but stopped as she tends to be overweight and she is finally looking normal now since the foal has been on her.

I do tend to overfeed, and my vet has strictly told me no grain for anyone, hay, water, mineral and salt only. They all tend to get overweight very quickly when I supplement. But the foal presents a different situation, even though he told me she would be fine with hay and Mom's milk and whatever Hoffman's she takes. I still worry she is not going to reach her potential if I don't feed her something extra.

I have another new bag of the Evolution Maternity and I was wondering if I should start offering the foal a small amount? I don't know if she will eat it. She will eat a few grains of oats as a treat but I don't want to feed her starchy grain in any significant amount.

Do you think I should supplement her? Is the Evolution ok (it does say it is ok to feed to foals) or should I get a feed specifically for foals? I know I will have to eliminate the Hoffman's for her if I do because of the selenium in both, which could be difficult since the other horses will still need it. I am fighting with myself because I've had problems with overfeeding before.

Please help!


Where are you from? Ontario

How did you locate this forum? Favourites

Re: To Feed or Not to Feed?

Hi Tamara,

I can certainly understand your concern about overfeeding, so you are wise to pay close attention to how much your foal receives.

Yes, Evolution appears to be fine (based on their website) for a growing foal since it is low in starch (starch can increase the incidence of osteopathic disorders in growing horses). So, you can feed it in small quantities in a creep feeding situation. However, I do not recommend feeding minerals free choice. Horses cannot assess their need for most minerals, with the exception of a few electrolyte, so it is better to feed them according to need. For that reason, I would recommend a vitamin/mineral supplement designed for growing horses, such as Mare/Foal IIP.

It's true that Evolution is fortified, but you would likely need to feed too much to get enough vitamins and minerals.

So, bottom line... feed all the hay she wants, no oats, 30% alfalfa, and you can use the Evolution as a "carrier" for a supplement. Also, you need to pay close attention to lysine content, so having your hay analysed is your best bet. Otherwise, you may need to supplement this essential amino acid.

Congratulations and if you need further assistance, please consider visiting over the phone so we can go over the big picture and customize a proper feeding plan.

All the best,

Dr. Getty

Where are you from? Bayfield, CO