Friday, January 29, 2010

Friday, January 29, 2010 - Economizing

Vet Tip of the Day: Economizing
Everyone is doing their best to economize these days. Feeding your horses is expensive, and we all tend to spend money UNwisely in this area. Here are some tips to keep your horses healthy, and reduce your spending:
1. Weigh you horse's feed!
A great source for an inexpensive scale that will weigh grain and hay is a restaurant supply outlet. Here in Reno there is one on Plumb Lane directly across the street from Reno Vulcanizing, 1 block east of S.Virginia.
An average pleasure horse should eat 1.5% of body weight daily. For #1000 pound horse, this is 15 pounds of good quality hay daily. In the west, this will most likely be a grass or grass/alfalfa mix hay. In the winter, horses burn extra calories fighting the cold, so this may be increased to 20 pounds.
Older horses need more calories and more easily digestible feed. For #1000 pound horse over 15 years of age, consider increasing daily intake to #20 pounds, divided into 17 pounds good quality hay and 3 pounds pelleted senior feed. In the winter, I always pour hot water over the grain portion of my horse's feed as a means of increasing water intake.
3. Store your hay wisely. Do not buy more hay than you can store in a clean, dry environment out of the elements. Over time, the investment in a hay storage area will more than pay for itself. Hay bought in small quantities is expensive, and forces you to change the character of your horse's diet every time you get a different batch of hay.

2. Stop buying all those supplements!
Talk to your veterinarian about this. We all (myself included) are guilty of wasting money buying things to feed our horses that make ourselves feel better but don't really improve the quality of our horse's lives. Go out to your barn today and look around - how many containers of unfinished mega-this or jointsupport-that do you have lying around? Supplements should be fed for specific reasons to specific individuals only. Your backyard pleasure horse will be very healthy eating good quality hay with free access to a mineral salt block (the red one), a plain salt block (the white one), and clean fresh water.
Performance horses, and horses with specific health issues, may be candidates for a nutritional supplement. If this is the case, then BUY QUALITY. Most equine feed supplements are not FDA regulated, so you basically are relying on the manufacturer's honesty when it comes to what is actually in that scoop of powder you give your horse. Remember, you get what you pay for. Again, consult your veterinarian and be smart about spending extra pennies on unnecessary additions to your horse's diet.

I'm working on the next book chapter story, which will introduce Sticky, the wonder vet dog, my veterinary assistants, and begin the story of Tootsie, the pony with the fractured cannon bone. See Thursday, Jan 28 post for the first chapter.

To Life!

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