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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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balancing Calcium/phosphorus ratios

hello, great forum!

my horse is currently on 2lbs Gro n win(which is 2600 calories from it),and 8flakes(2-3lbs/per flake)timothy hay,and 2flakes(2lbs/per flake )mixed hay(orchard,red clover,timothy)at night.

but i would like to take him soy free and gro n win has soy in it for the protein.

so i was thinking of adding alfalfa cubes or beet pulp for the extra calories. however I know they are high in calcium. and then i wouldn't know what or how much to ad to balance them.

he is also getting 1 cup (4oz by weight)Nutra flax with the calcium already added. but then i wondered if i could buy whole flax without the calcium to balance out the high calcium in the alfalfa or beet pulp.... but again, i wouldn't know how much flax to add per pound alfalfa or beet pulp LOL

i would like to keep him low NSC and soy free. i ill also be feeding a good soy free multi vitamin and tri amino from uckele (for amino acids)

i am soooo confused HELP


Where are you from? Ohio

How did you locate this forum? search engine

Re: balancing Calcium/phosphorus ratios

nobody?? :(

Where are you from? Ohio

How did you locate this forum? search engine

Re: balancing Calcium/phosphorus ratios

Hi Joanne,

Thank you for your patience in my getting back to you. Most of my time, these days, is getting my book completed on feeding horses for a variety of conditions and disorders.

To address your question, first I'm pleased that you are no longer feeding Grow n win along with a vitamin/mineral supplement, since there would be overlaps.

Regarding Nutra Flax... the amount of calcium added is quite small -- and it is intended to balance out the high phosphorus levels in flax. So, I don't recommend grinding your own.

So, here are some numbers to assist (confuse) you.

Nutra Flax provides 1270 mg of Calcium and 886 mg of Phosphorus per 4 ounce serving (two scoops).

Alfalfa cubes, in general, have the following profile: 1.4% Calcium, .28% Phosphorus and 1.11 Mcals/lb.

Beet Pulp: .91% Calcium, .09% Phosphorus, and 1.29 Mcals/lb. But, much of this calcium is not absorbed due to the high oxalate content of beet pulp. So, I would not rely on it for a significant calcium source.

So, let's look at 2 lbs of Grow n win and compare it to a comparable amount of either alfalfa cubes or beet pulp:

Grow n Win: Calcium average 3.0%, Phosphorus 1.5%, and 1.3 Mcals/lb. So for two pounds, your horse is getting: 27,240 mg of Calcium, 13,620 mg of Phosphorus, and 2600 Calories.

To get this amount of nutritive value from Alfalfa Cubes, you would need to add approximately 4 lbs, which calculates: 25,424 mg of Calcium, 5,084 grams of Phosphorus, and 4,440 Calories.

For Beet pulp, it would be more -- say 5 lbs, providing: 24,788 mgs Calcium; 2,451 mg Phosphorus, and 7745 Calories.

So, as you can see, it is not easy to get an exact match between any of these.

I would recommend going with a mixture of alfalfa cubes/pellets with additional beet pulp to add calories. So, for example, 2 lbs of alfalfa cubes/pellets and 2 lbs of beet pulp. This would provide a total of 20,975 mg of Calcium, 3,359 mg of Phosphorus, and 5000 Calories. The Calcium to Phoshorus ratio appears to be high -- 6.2 to 1, however, it is more realistically 3:1 because to the poor calcium absorption from beet pulp. The calories, however, are higher than your Grow n Win, so I would suggest cutting back on Nutra Flax, only if necessary. We measure calories in Mcals for horses, and the difference is only slightly over 2.4 Mcals, which is not signficant. A 1100 pound horse doing light work, for example, requires between 18 and 22 Mcals per day.

So, I've given you a lot of numbers and you're likely a bit overwhelmed! That's because I'm dealing in generalities and not in your horse's particular needs. So, if you would find it helpful, I suggest a personal phone consultation so I can offer you exact numbers based on your horse's age, condition, exercise level, bred, etc.

All the best,

Dr. Getty

Where are you from? Bayfield, CO