Which Grain Mix Do I Use on My Horse?
Progressive Nutrition's Equine Guide # 116
How do I determine what grain mixture is the correct one for my horse?
Because horses are continuous grazers and will graze up to 18 hours/day while on pasture, we realize that forage (pasture and hay) will make up 60 to 95 percent of their diet.
Therefore, first we must recognize the type of forage being eaten everyday. Grasses (Orchardgrass, Bluegrass, Timothy, Bluestem, Coastal Bermuda, etc.) and Legumes (Alfalfa, Clover, Peanut Hay, etc.) differ greatly in quality and quantity of protein and the amounts of major minerals calcium and potassium, etc.
Second we must realize the maturity of the plant when
harvested (eaten or baled) affects the palatability as well as the
availability of all the nutrients your horse can digest from your forage.
Having your forage analyzed will inform you of the total protein, major and trace minerals as well as the digestibility of each of those nutrients, which is determined by a Relative Feed Value (RFV) score. The higher the score, the more available the nutrients are to the horse.
The following chart will help explain how the maturity of your forage, will affect the Relative Feed Value (RFV) of hay and pasture, so you can make the correct decision on what Line of Progressive Nutrition feeds best complements them.
|RFV||Quality Standard of Forage||PN Line Best Complements|
|150 and higher||= pasture (Prime)||ProAdvantage (extremely low starch)|
|103 to 150||= immature hay (Premium to Good)||ProElite (moderate starch)|
|75 to 102||= mature hay (Fair to Poor)||Premium (low starch)|
|Below 74||= overly mature (Reject or Bedding)||Senior (Complete Feed is 60% Forage)|
The majority of the hay we have analyzed on horse farms, over the past three years, fits into the 75 to 102 RFV. That is why many horsemen are achieving their desired results when feeding our Premium Line. If the horses are on improved pasture in the Spring, Summer and early Autumn, we recommend switching to the ProAdvantage line.
Third we must determine the age, size, reproductive status and/or performance level of your horses and know the daily nutrient needs of each.
Fourth we must read the purpose statement on every bag of feed you are considering. It will inform you if this feed is formulated to complement your type of forage and meet the nutrient needs of your horse. Then read the amount to feed per day, for their size, age, reproductive status or performance level of your horse. These amounts are determined by the concentration of nutrients in this grain mixture, which will complement the RFV of the forage you are feeding. If the recommended amount to feed per day is too high, you can eliminate that feed from your selection. Because if you feed less than the manufacturer recommends, you are feeding a deficient diet to your horse!! If the recommended amount to feed per day is too low, select a different grain mixture that its feeding amount listed per day is closer to what your horse needs to maintain desired body condition.
Be an educated consumer – read the feeding directions on every bag and only purchase what you need to make up the difference between what is in your forage and what your horse needs.