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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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All the best,

 Dr. Getty 


Ask the Nutritionist: Dr. Getty's Forum for Equine Nutrition
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Horse nutrtion for working draft style horses for trolleys

I just became a manager for the trolley service that I have worked for for the past 5 years.. We want to make sure that the proper foundation on nutrition is maintained for the working balance of the draft teams that we use.. in the winter they are on 14% plus grain but when in alaska in the past we use the 20% bales and a three way mix of a dry grain NOT a sweet grain.. twice a day two scoops. I feel that 20% protein in a grass feed with just dry grain is not what a good feeding program is.. Protein dose not give energy, A good based sweet feed and a lower protein grass feed would that not be better? what would you suggest? These horse work daily pulling trolleys from 6am to 6 pm.. and yes many breaks between. There yurin in the past has been milky white andover the kidneys touchy gives me the impression the balance just is not right can you help me with this. My boss says prove him wrong I feel he is very wrong... Types of gran and the grass? thanks

Where are you from? Washington but the horses work in Alaska

How did you locate this forum? Tommy Joe Stiner Dancing Eagle PH Ranch

Re: Horse nutrtion for working draft style horses for trolleys

Hello Michelle,

You're right -- they do need more energy, but not from carbohydrates -- from fat. Draft horses are genetically predisposed toward insulin resistance, so feeding more starch and sugar is asking for trouble down the road. Flaxseed meal is the best fat source, not only for additional calories but also to provide much needed omega 3 fatty acids. These essential fatty acids reduce inflammation caused by working muscles and joints. It also protects their immune function that is depressed during intensive work. Nutra Flax contains only flaxseed meal that has been stabilized and has the added calcium needed to correct the high levels of phosphorus that naturally exist in flax.

Another fat source, in addition, is stabilized rice bran. Here again, there is too much phosphorus in regular rice bran, so it must be a commercial product that has this inverted calcium to phosphorus ratio corrected.

14% protein is adequate. Any more than that and they will burn protein for energy, which results in urine that is more concentrated in urea. So, I agree -- their protein level should be cut down a bit. But, be sure to add alfalfa to the diet to balance out the protein found in grass hays. Good quality protein is more important than the actual percentage. 30% alfalfa is best.

The urine's milky color indicates that they are not getting enough water. Salt needs to be available and since they are working throughout the day, it is best to simply add plain, white table salt to their diet -- for large horses, add 3 Tablespoons per day divided between meals and have plenty of water available since they will be thirsty.

Thanks for writing. Keep me posted.

All the best,

Dr. Getty

Where are you from? Bayfield, CO