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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.

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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Re: Weather-related colic

Hi Kristine,

Thank you for the wonderful feedback about your IR horse and how free choice feeding has made a significant difference.

Most horses do fine with alfalfa but you're right -- there are some that seem to have a problem. The reason is not clear, but I suspect it may have something to do with the high phytoestrogen content of alfalfa (and soy).

For additional protein, you might try, instead, whey or split peas. I'm planning on doing a teleseminar on protein soon, so perhaps this will of interest to you.

The cutting of hay does not influence NDF nearly as much as the maturity level of the grass when it is cut. The more mature, the more lignin it will contain, which drives the NDF level up.

Keep up the fine work -- you are doing a very good job!

All the best,

Dr. Getty
Author of Feed Your Horse Like A Horse

Dr. Getty,

Thank you for your response. I just wanted to say that my IR horse does wonderfully with the suggestions that you offer for handling their issues.

With their hay, they get as close to free choice as possible so that hay is always left over. I've been doing that since your teleconference on feeding the easy keeper/IR horse. It has certainly helped the weight issue on the IR horse and the personalities of both. They are both quite relaxed and easy going and neither rush for food when I go out to feed. I did introduce the hay net concept slowly and I keep extra hay in their run in sheds loose as well so that they can come and go and nibble that if they choose so that they are also walking around for other hay. When weather is bad, the hay nets aren't used because I can only hang them outside and I don't want them forced out in bad weather.

I know the alfalfa issue for the IR horse is odd, and it was annoying because the hay that actually caused her the worst laminitis issues was actually very low sugar and starch but had significant alfalfa and was high protein. When we removed all alfalfa-based products from her diet, she finally was no longer foot sore...same went for soy-based products. She is on straight forage-based diet with Ontario Dehy Timothy Balance cubes and since then no laminitis. She is one of THOSE horses with sensitivities, I guess, but has not had laminitis (knock on wood) since that first bout over a year ago and since the diet change.

Both horses get their food soaked, which includes the alfalfa pellets for the TB. I only give her a pound with each feed. Perhaps she should get more to be more beneficial?

The hay has been an issue. It changes with each ton I get and even within the ton there's different types of hay. Some has been quite stemmy. My most recent hay delivery finally looks like a nice soft hay, but it has been several months since we had hay that looked like that. I always ask for first cut to avoid getting too many legumes so the IR horse is better protected from more than incidental alfalfa, but maybe the first cut is too weedy and stemmy for the TB? Does NDF get affected by first or second cut at all? I will test my hay and see what I have.

I keep them on pre/pro biotics to help with the fact that the hay deliveries always seem to have different types of hay coming even though it's the same hay guy. I hope it helps them because there's really nothing we can do about that. It's the way it is around here.

Thanks so much!


Where are you from? Waverly, Ohio