Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Cooking for Kaswyn

Every Sunday I prepare Kaswyn's grain for the coming week. He's getting a different feed than everyone else because I wanted to try and keep him on the same program he was on at the other barn. Besides that, he gets supplements that he won't eat unless the grain is wet. At the last barn I had his supplements pre-measured in little containers. The barn owner would add the supplements to his grain and wet the whole mix with water (or applesauce if he was getting bute or aspirin) right before he was fed. This isn't convenient to do at this barn, so I pre-mix his grain, supplements, and hydroxyzine in containers, and wet it down with corn oil (because water or applesauce will freeze in this weather!).

This is what my setup looks like when I'm mixing everything together -




Kaswyn is not getting what is considered a traditional grain; he's getting a diet balancer. It isn't really a grain because it doesn't contain corn or grain products. It's formulated to help horses use the maximum amount of nutrition they can from their hay so that most of their calories come from hay instead of grain. This is really good because you don't need to feed nearly as much of it as you do traditional grain, and it prevents the horses from having bellies full of grain that is difficult to digest and hard on their systems. It's low in starch and sugar so it's great for horses who have foundering issues and those who are glucose sensitive. The brand is Progressive and the product is the Grass Formula. He used to be on "traditional grain", but a gal at the last barn has a degree in Equine Nutrition from Cornell and suggested the switch to a diet balancer instead of grain. All the horses seemed to do very well on it. If Kaswyn needs more calories the best thing to do would be to provide those calories in fat instead of more hay, and Progressive has a product to do that also. It's called Envision, and I haven't had to add that to his grain mix yet. I might have to do so when (if!) we get working at full capacity again.

For supplements Kaswyn is on 4-in-1 by Med-Vet. It's kind of an all-in-one supplement and gives him glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM, biotin, plus microbials and amino acids. He's also on an herbal supplement by Earth Angel Herbs called Easy Stride that's supposed to increase circulation to the feet and lower limbs to help decrease inflammation and speed healing. He used to be on another product as well called Nublada's Formula, but I stopped giving him that when I realized that it didn't shrink his navicular cyst like I had hoped it would.

Of course right now he's also on 500 mg twice a day of hydroxizine. The capsules are 50 mg each, so for every feeding I have to crack open 10 capsules. By the time I'm done my fingers are sore! The dexamethasone I mix with water and shoot it in his mouth with a syringe so I can be sure he's getting all of it.

Susan and Barb (another gal at the barn) tease me every time they see me setting up my assembly line. I tell them that I know it's a pain, but my horse is awesome and he's worth it.

13 comments:

Rising Rainbow said...

I've never heard of a diet balancer. I will have to look into that.

Trying to keep weight on growing horses without tipping them over the edge with some nutrients and ending up with growth abnormalities is like walking a tight rope.

20 meter circle of life said...

Your set up looks familiar. I have to check into the diet balancer. Can you belive the price of corn oil these days??!!

dressagemom said...

I don't remember what I paid for that bottle of corn oil, but I buy the cheapest I can find. It's not like I'm using it for anything other than a wetting agent so it doesn't have to be premium oil or anything.

Speaking of prices and corn, my diet balancer is actually cheaper than regular grain and I feed probably a third of what he'd be getting in grain. I pay about $24 a bag and that lasts me 5 weeks. I'm sure I'll have to add that fat supplement when he's in full work but he won't get a lot of that.

The gal with the equine nutrition degree said that the trend in horse feeds is getting away from grain based diets (traditional grains) because there has been so much evidence that giving your horse a belly full of grain is probably not the best thing to do. Since they are grazing animals they should get most of their calories from their forage, and the diet balancer helps them do that by making up for anything that's lacking in the soil.

Anyone can call Progressive and get a professional equine nutritionist to come out to the barn to evaluate the hay and make recommendations on what to feed. At least we have someone out here that does it. She will come out and run analysis on the hay, check conditions of the horses, all as often as needed until the program is right and we don't have to pay her anything. It's been fantastic and all the horses are really thriving.

Buckeye feeds has similar products to Progressive, but at some point a bunch of people left Buckeye to form Progressive. I've been told Progressive is a better product, so that's what I'm using.

Tracey said...

Oye! I'm glad grass hay keeps my girls happy, lol!

haffiegirl said...

I never knew that feeding horses could be so complicated! The diet balancer sounds like a good idea, though. I had never heard of it before. Are most boarding barns okay with feeding something different to one horse?

dressagemom said...

It kind of depends on the barn. I prepare all of Kaswyn's feedings so all they have to do is dump the container into his feeder. And I'm buying the feed too, so there isn't really anything to complain about. Some barns will feed what you want and pay for it, some won't. It's just easier for the staff if everyone gets the same base feed.

Supplements are always a pain for everyone. Most barns make you pre-portion them out in labeled containers so there is no guesswork at feeding time. I know some owners who use Smart Paks - http://www.smartpakequine.com/ - where the company pre-portions your supplements for you. They ship labeled strips of covered cups and all the feeder has to do is rip off the top and dump in the supplements. Not all of my supplements are available in Smart Paks so I'm stuck with mixing.

Stacey Kimmel-Smith said...

That is such a hoot! I used to have a little science lab -- coffee grinder, millions of supplements, and little plastic containers. It was the assembly line complete with noisy environment. The cats loved to watch. I finally broke down and got smartpaks. My barn has a volume discount and free shipping.

dressagemom said...

Yeah, the coffee grinder is great for bute!

billie said...

I've heard great things about Progressive ration balancers. Our vet clinic uses them instead of grain/feed, and if I weren't mixing my own supplement cocktail for each of my horses, it's what I'd be feeding. Only my 25-year old mare gets feed at all, and she's on a small amount of low-carb feed that works very well for her.

I love morning feed - I open everything up and then swing into action with my scoops and pail. Fortunately mine all lick their feed tubs clean so I don't have to add stuff to entice them. (this easy-keeper mentality also has its down side, but it makes using supplements pretty easy)

dressagemom said...

Kaswyn is a stinker about his supplements. I don't think he likes the taste of his herbal supplement. I really don't know for sure if it's working or not, but I'm afraid to take him off of it since he seems sound at the moment!

Cara said...

The things we do for them! My guy has metabolic syndrome and gets thyroid supplement every day. It's a powder I add to about two cups of rice bran and mix it in a food storage bag with a little water. He loves this little treat, palatability is not a problem. Hay is a problem since he is allergic to most grass hays. You have my sympathy on the hay problem.

Anonymous said...

...try picking up bales with a convertible!!! Several trips to the hay guy with the top down.....

Anonymous said...

hey, can you tell me who the girl that went to cornell was? i graduated from there in 2005. it'd be great to know another cornell alum in the equine nutrition industry! i'm in grad school at colorado state for it right now. please email me at shorti056@aol.com.

Thanks!

 
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