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Equine Questions & Answers
integrity products

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My rescue horse is about 20 years-old and has Cushing’s disease. I have been feeding him about four cups a day of Integrity no sugar. He’s about 16 hands, underweight and probably some kind of draft mix. Is this product okay for a Cushing’s horse?

I’m not sure which product you are feeding. The Integrity Lite no molasses and Integrity Adult/Senior are both low starch and low sugar formulas. The Integrity Lite, as you will note in the table below, is the lowest of these two Integrity formulas and one of the lowest, if not the lowest balanced formula on the market. If your 20 year-old is not being worked on a daily basis, I would suggest the Integrity Lite no molasses.

In the equine industry, there is quite a bit of confusion in defining starch content. Please take a look at the article in Dr. Bray’s Corner titled, “Nutrition Fundamental Series: Nonstructural Carbohydrates,” to gain a better understanding of nonstructural carbohydrates and the appropriate terminology. Unfortunately, some of the descriptions for starch and sugar content used in the industry are inaccurate and don’t represent the facts. The following information for the Integrity products, however, is factual.

Feed and Form % ESC % Starch % Starch + % ESC
Integrity Senior, no molasses, textured 5.5 3.6 9.1
Integrity Lite, no molasses, textured 5.7 1.6 7.3

*Values reported on as sampled or as fed basis. ESC is ethanol soluble carbohydrates.

I have a cutting horse that's just coming back from a suspensory injury and I have to ride him at a walk for an hour at a time. He's trying to be polite but he has way too much energy.

I'm currently giving him just a half-scoop of the same Integrity Senior I've fed him forever. Would that small amount make a difference in his energy level? Should I stop giving it to him while he’s recovering? Right now, less energy is better.

How big is your scoop? His energy level might be influenced by his spirit to work and by restlessness because he’s been down for a long time—it might not be influenced by the feed.

Nevertheless, with the recovery program that you noted, I would suggest the Integrity Lite. It’s a balanced formula that supplies the required nutrients, produces lower energy and contains more fiber, yet contains no grains. Once you start to work him to a jog and lope with some extension, then you can make the switch back to Integrity Adult/Senior. The Integrity product line was developed using similar ingredients so that switching from one Integrity product to another can be more safely expedited, when compared to switching between feeds that have uncommon ingredients.

The amount of Integrity Lite depends on the horse’s body weight and condition score, as well as the amount and type of hay it’s being fed, among other factors. However, if I assume your horse is in the 1050 – 1100 lb. weight range, then I would suggest starting with about 2.5 lbs. of the Integrity Lite and adjusting the amount as you go along to maintain a body condition score of 5.5. As your work intensity increases, you will need to increase his food as well.

About 15 or so years ago, you gave a class in Santa Ynez, California. I attended it and learned a lot. You had the beet pulp mix at the time and I used it for years and years until I decided to seek out one that didn’t include molasses.

Recently I have been using your Integrity Stabilized Rice Bran Nugget with great success for some of my hard keepers. What do you would recommend as a low-sugar, ongoing maintenance product for my hard keepers? I am a barefoot trimmer and see the ravages of a high sugar diet, so I am hunting for an ongoing diet for 20 horses that will work for both my easy and hard keepers without problems cropping up in their feet. I am feeding a diet of grass hay, and for some, I supplement that with Alfalfa. I had wanted to get away from Alfalfa totally but I seem to need it since the grass hays are not always of the greatest quality.

The Integrity Lite No Molasses is a balanced feed that complements the forage portion of the horse’s diet and is a low starch, low sugar feed. The starch content of he Integrity Lite No Molasses is 1.6%, and the ethanol soluble carbohydrate (ESC) is 5.9%. If you need additional calories you can increase the amount of Integrity Lite or you can add corn, soy or peanut oil. For hair coat improvement, I recommend approximately ¼ to ⅓ cup of oil per day, depending on body weight.

If you need to add calories (energy) to the diet, start with a ¼ cup of oil per day and increase over a couple of days to ½ cup. Monitor for changes in body weight. If the horse is gaining weight, you’ll notice changes in as quickly as two weeks using the body condition scoring. Rice Bran contains starch. Since you are trying to maintain a lower starch/sugar diet, you should stay away from Rice Bran and instead go with the added fat in the form of oil.

I am confused about which product to feed my mares. One is 7, the other is 12. The 7-year old is in good shape, she trains approximately 3-4 days per week, for about an hour, (her color is bright when fed dark feeds). The 12-year old is in good shape also, works about 3-4 days per week, but is ridden by a 10-year old so has a mild workload also. They are currently being fed alfalfa am and pm, and they are boarded at a stable. They have salt blocks, clean water etc., which Integrity feed do you recommend?

It’s important to note that feed color does not influence coat color, but oil or fat will contribute to a shiny or bright coat. Also, during the winter season, the horse’s hair coat is longer and usually appears darker.

For working adult horses, you have three choices in the Integrity product line: Integrity Adult/Senior, a textured feed that is available with and without molasses; Integrity Low Starch Timothy, a pellet feed; or our new product, Integrity Performance. Integrity performance is 10% fat and contains oats and Integrity Rice Bran as fuel sources, but DOES NOT contain corn or barley. All three are balanced formulas that complement the forage portion of the horse’s diet. The amount fed daily will vary for each horse based on their body weight, body condition score and workload.

Finally, I do not recommend 100% alfalfa as the forage source. In Dr. Bray’s Corner at starmilling.com, there is a fact sheet titled “What to Feed your Horse,” which may be useful. Also, I will encourage you to take a look at the fact sheet “Feeding Guidelines for Horses.”

I am feeding 4 cups of Integrity Adult/Senior each day with alfalfa and my horse has more energy with his ground work and the hair coat looks so shiny. Will that make him hot and are starches bad for him?

No. Integrity Adult/Senior and Integrity Adult/Senior - No Molasses are low-starch formulas and low-energy feed. The Integrity products do not contain corn or barley. Integrity Adult/Senior does contain a small portion of oats, which, along with modest amounts of rice bran and oil, serves as a fuel source.

The way you know that oats are a small amount in the formula is by noting that oats are the sixth ingredient on the feed label, and that beet pulp and soy hulls, the first two ingredients on the label, are the major ingredients in the Integrity Adult/Senior.

The opinion that “grains will make a horse hot” has been around a long time. As noted in a similar question, every time I have experienced a horse that was energetic, hyper, or “hot”, there was a behavioral or management explanation—it was never due to the horse’s feed.

The feed store here in Flagstaff, AZ offers your Integrity products both with and without Molasses. Would you kindly speak to the pros and cons of having this ingredient in my horses’ feed? 

Molasses has two fundamental contributions to feed mixes: It binds the small feed particles to reduce the dustiness of the feed when handled or consumed by the horse. It adds a sweet flavor to the feed.   Horses like sweetness. The horse industry is currently in overdrive with concerns regarding the sugar and starch makeup in horse feeds, thus molasses has been negatively targeted. Some commercial feeds have higher levels of molasses than others. Please read my example in Dr. Bray’s Corner about Nonstructural Carbohydrates . It covers sugar content in a feed containing molasses and may help with keeping molasses concerns in perspective.

Example: A 1,100 lb. Quarter Horse is consuming 4 lbs. per day of a popular sweet feed that contains 6% molasses in addition to 18 lbs. of grass hay. The horse owner is concerned with feeding molasses, which contains sugar. So, how much sugar is the horse actually receiving from the 4 lbs. of sweet feed?

Solution:

  • 4 lbs. feed X 0.06 (6% molasses) = 0.24 lb. or 3.84 oz. of molasses in the 4 lbs. of feed
    6% is the same as 0.06; companies will share the % molasses added to a feed; it is not a trade secret
  • 3.84 oz. X 0.40 (40% sugar in molasses) = 1.54 oz. of sugar from molasses
    40% is the same as 0.40; commercial molasses is approximately 40% sugar

Answer: The horse is consuming 1½ oz. of sugar each day from the 4 lbs. of sweet feed. Do you think that 1½ oz. of sugar will be an issue with an 1100 lb. Quarter Horse?

I have a 1,100 lb. Appendix Gelding 16hh and 16 yrs. We have just moved him from Anaheim Hills, CA. to Garner Valley, which is at 4,500 ft. He is recovering from a fracture in his navicular bone. He cannot have alfalfa so he is currently eating 3 flakes of Orchard per day and 4 cups of your Integrity Low Starch with Timothy mixed. He is a little ribby because the vet wants him lean. But I want him to gain just a little and be able to grow a nice winter coat. I would appreciate your advice. Thank You!

You need to add “groceries” so there are two reasonable options for your horse to gain weight. You can increase the current amount of Integrity Lite or you can add Integrity Rice Bran. The Integrity Rice Bran is a new Integrity product that is balanced for calcium and phosphorus and has added probiotic and prebiotic for gut health and integrity. The best method to observe weight change is using the Body Condition Scoring system which is outlined with photographs in Dr. Bray’s Corner. Thank you for using Integrity and feel free to let us know if we can be of any further assistance.

A friend just got a 5 yr. old Galieceno Gelding. He wants to use him for trail riding 3 to 4 times a week and he weighs 900 pounds. I told him about how Integrity has made a difference with my horse: he is healthy, at the right weight, and has a beautiful coat. What type of Integrity should he give his horse, what amounts of hay, and what is the best kind when available?

For light trail riding the Integrity Lite will work fine. After rides, if the horse is just warm or mildly damp (before cooling) then feed around 3 lbs. per day. You did not indicate the hay type or amount fed. For a 900 lb. horse, feed about 1.6% of body weight which is approximately 14.5 lb. per day. Adjust the amount of Integrity Lite fed relative to body condition score. If the horse is not maintaining body weight at 3 – 4 pounds per day then switch over to Integrity Adult which contains more energy with the ingredients of oats and higher levels of fat. Have your friend check out Dr. Bray’s Corner at starmilling.com for the fact sheets, Feeding Guidelines and Body Condition Scoring. Both of these will be helpful in nutritionally managing her horse.

Be sure to monitor weight changes as you make changes in the diet. She/he may gain or lose weight and those adjustments are easy but one usually will not notice those changes for 15 - 30 days..

How does your feed compare nutritionally to the National Research Council (NRC) 2007 Nutrient Requirements of Horses?

The Integrity formulas are based on the Nutrient Requirements of Horses published by the NRC and on my years of experience as an equine nutritionist, horseman, and University professor in Animal & Veterinary Sciences. My approach is to provide a balance formula to complement the forage portion of the horse’s diet. There are a plethora of factors that influence a horse’s energy and nutrient requirements besides the two fundamental factors of body weight and production stage which are listed in the 2007 NRC Nutrient Requirements for Horses. The NRC publication is not and should not be consider as an absolute for energy and nutrient values but is actually a guideline for minimum requirements. Nutritional management is the key to a successful feeding program and unfortunately too much emphasis is often placed by contemporary marketing schemes on one or two of the 50+ nutrients required by the horse.

I have a horse that turns two this month and we have been feeding her Integrity Adult/Senior but just noticed you have one that is for younger horses called Integrity Growth. Should we feed her that instead? We also supplement with extra whole oats and hay.

Yes, you want to feed the Integrity Growth to the two year old but do not cut the diet with oats. Integrity Growth is a balanced formula for growing horses and by adding a feed such as oats will alter that balance of nutrients with energy. Grass hay is fine. I do not recommend 100% alfalfa as the only hay.

How are poor feed source deficiencies such as vitamin E addressed in horse feeds? How does your feed compare nutritionally to National Research Council (NRC) 2007 Nutrient Requirements of Horses?

The Integrity formulas are based on my years of experience as an equine nutritionist, horseman, and University professor in Animal & Veterinary Sciences. My approach is to provide a balance formula to complement the forage portion of the horse’s diet. There are a plethora of factors that influence a horse’s energy and nutrient requirements besides the two fundamental factors of body weight and production stage which are listed in the 2007 NRC Nutrient Requirements for Horses. The NRC publication is not and should not be consider as an absolute for energy and nutrient values but is actually a guideline for minimum requirements.

Nutritional management is the key to a successful feeding program and unfortunately too much emphasis is sometimes placed on one or two of the nutrients required by the horse instead of a balance formula approach. The relationship of nutrient to nutrient and the relationship of nutrient to energy are important factors that must be considered in formulating a balanced feed for horses.

Regarding my mare and my two ponies, you previously suggested 1/4 to 1/3 (cup) of oil but I am not sure what type. Can you make a suggestion? I have purchased a bag of Integrity Lite and there were two choices, one with molasses and the other without. I bought the one with molasses. Is this one ok? Does 1/2 lb. of Integrity weigh the same as liquid (8oz) cup? Can I use 1 cup or do I need to weigh on a food scale?

The oil type is not important—corn, soy, canola—select for best price. The question of oil type has evolved from the emphasis of the omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acid relationship for human diet. Horses are herbivores and fat is not a significant portion of their diet compared to a carnivore (meat eater) or omnivore (meat & plant eater). Horses actually have a low fat requirement because they are herbivores and what’s interesting is that we know there are 3 essential fatty acids that are required by mammals but that requirement has never really been established via research as with other domestic animals.

Both Integrity Lite products are low in starch and non-structural carbohydrates but obviously the no molasses product will have less non-structural carbohydrates. There is a Q&A recently posted on Integrity Lite starch content on this page.

Liquid measuring cups do NOT equate to dry measurements.  I prefer you weigh the feed but the last time I checked, approximately 1/2 of a small coffee can is actually 1/2 lb. for the Integrity Lite with molasses.

How much beet pulp is recommended for a horse per day? How about Integrity Lite Body Build?

Why do you want to feed beet pulp? Beet pulp in often used to provide benefits as a “bulk laxative” because of its fiber and water attraction properties. I do not generally recommend it as an added ingredient on a daily basis unless there is a reason to complement an existing balanced diet.
If a bulk laxative is needed, then depending on the forage source, other feed and fiber sources, activity level, etc. an 1,100 lb. horse would be fed 0.5 – 2.0 lbs. per day of shredded beet pulp (before adding water). Relative to the Integrity product line, beet pulp is the first ingredient in several of the formulas so I would usually not recommend adding beet pulp.

The questions are a bit general and more information would be needed relative to the horse(s) involved. The fact sheet in Dr. Bray’s Corner What to Feed your Horse provides a guideline of specifics information that is helpful for me to provide meaningful recommendations; those categories include Body Weight, Hay & Forage Feeding, Feeds Fed other than Hay, Exercise Schedule, and Exercise Intensity. Also take a look at the fact sheet section titled Feeding Guidelines for Horses.

I have a mare that is 15 yrs. old and two 10-hand ponies, 5 and 8 yrs. old. I noticed my ponies’ coats were not as shining as last summer when I was feeding alfalfa hay. My horse started urinating a lot so I changed my hay this spring to Bermuda then I heard that feeding Bermuda can cause an impaction. I feel Bermuda grass seems more natural for my horses to eat than Alfalfa. I want to add Integrity to their daily feed but I am not sure which type of Integrity I should feed with their Bermuda grass. What would you recommend? Can my horse and ponies eat the same type even with their age differences? How much should I feed them? They are both at good weights at about 372 pounds.

There are several factors that influence hair coat—nutrition is only one of the many options. The benefits of feeding a balanced concentrate are to provide nutrients and energy that will complement the forage portion of the horse’s diet. Feeding a balanced formula with the hay may improve the haircut and all of the Integrity products have added fat via oil and rice bran; dietary fat improves hair coat. However, one tool to increase the fat content of the diet and to improve hair coat is to feed 3/4 - 1/3 cup of oil per day; for the ponies you will feed less than half the amount that you feed your mare.

I do not recommend alfalfa as the only forage source; my recommendation is that alfalfa cannot be more than 50% of the forage fed. This recommendation is primarily based on supplying adequate fiber to the horse’s diet. Review the fact sheet section in Dr. Bray’s Corner for the title Feeding Guidelines for Horses. Alfalfa may provide up to 75 -125% more protein than the horse requires thus the excess nitrogen (component of protein) is eliminated via the urine thereby the horse consumes more water in order to eliminate the excess urinary nitrogen.

Also in Dr. Bray’s Corner, there is a fact sheet titled Does Bermuda Grass Hay Cause Colic? This fact sheet will summarize my thoughts on Bermuda and help you understand the myths that have evolved in the industry with feeding Bermuda. Nutritional management is the key to successful feeding and I do not subscribe to the concerns that Bermuda is not a safe forage to feed.  If your horse and ponies are inactive then feed the Integrity Lite. If they are working several days a week then use the Integrity Senior/Adult. I would need to know more about your ponies’ work or activity level to be specific. In general, if they are inactive then feed 1/3 -1/2 lb. per day. If they are lightly worked then feed around 3/4 - 1 pound per day.

I have a 3 and 5 year old QH mare. I recently changed them from an all alfalfa and oat diet to predominantly Bermuda hay, almost free fed with a couple lbs. of alfalfa 2 times per day. They are up to 3 cups twice a day of Integrity Lite—no molasses. The 3 year old had physitis issues when younger. Is 6 cups of the Integrity Lite enough to give them the maximum vitamin/mineral supplement they need?

The general recommendation I provide for 2 – 3 year olds is 1.4 – 1.5% of their body weight in dry forage (hay) and approximately 0.4 – 0.6% of their body weight in a balanced feed mix. The feed mix needs to be formulated for growing horses that will compliment the forage portion of the diet. When feeding a balance formula I do not recommend any additional supplements.

Integrity Lite was formulated for adult or older, idle or less active horses. This formula also provides a rich source of soluble fiber for gut integrity. The Integrity Lite is not the correct Integrity formula for your late growing and early adult horses; the correct formula is Integrity Growth.

Let’s use for example a 2 year old that weighs approximately 920 lbs. and is expected to mature to 15.2 hands and 1100 lbs. The daily diet would consist of approximately 13 lbs. of grass hay and approximately 4 to 5 lbs. of the Integrity Growth formula. Please keep in mind there are many factors that influence the horse’s energy and nutrient requirements, which is why I encourage horse owners to become familiar with the body condition scoring system (this system is provided with photos at Dr. Bray’s Corner). The body condition scoring system allows one to manage feed amounts relative to body weight. Any adjustments in increasing or reducing feed amounts will be with the amounts of Integrity Growth. Forage is critical to maintaining gut integrity and the recommended amounts provided are for this age group.

Two years olds are still growing so they need a better quality energy source other than hay. The Integrity Growth contains soluble fiber sources (beet pulp and soybean hulls) but also includes rice bran, fat (canola oil) and oats as the primary fuel sources and soybean meal as the primary protein source. Three year olds usually have reached their mature height but their body composition remains somewhat dynamic. Muscle to body fat relationship is changing and although this lean-to-fat ratio is primarily influenced by genetics, exercise and diet are important factors in navigating the ship.

Is Teff hay ok to feed my horse with the Integrity products?

Yes. Teff grass hay has been around for quite awhile but the availability of the grass hay has been inconsistent for West Coast horse owners. However, the consistence in availability has changed with more being grown, hay producers recognizing the quality, and producers learning how to work through the growing nuisances of Teff. Also Teff is now available in a hay pellet in southern California. Horses sometimes need time to adjust to Teff hay from the bale because the texture is different than other grass hays.


Teff Hay

Analysis

Percent (%)

Crude Protein

10.8%

Crude Fat

2.2%

Crude Fiber

26.8%

Ash

8.8%

Calcium

0.56%

Phosphorus

0.23%

Calcium-Phosphorus Ratio

2.4: 1

Potassium

1.26%

Starch (Ewers Method

1.6%

Teff is native to Ethiopia and is classified as a warm season annual grass. It’s not considered a very good pasture grass because the root system is shallow and the turf is easily damaged with grazing animals. 
The composition of Teff hay is a good fit with the Integrity product line. As with any grass forage that is processed for hay, there are many factors that will influence the composition. Over the years, hay produced for horses on the West Coast usually is a more mature hay to increase the yield from the field and thus is often on the lower to average end on analysis. The Teff hay assessments that I have seen in the past year have been better than most grass hays usually fed on the West Coast. I have included a recent report analysis of Teff hay from a source in southern California.

My horse is a 13 year old, gelding, paint/quarter horse. His work is only trail rides 2 times a week on average. He currently eats alfalfa hay and some orchard hay and rice bran. He had a slight case of colic the other day and I want to switch to Integrity. He has quite a bit of energy. What is your opinion for a horse that does not get much work with an easy life style?

The combination of orchard grass hay and alfalfa hay will work as long as you follow the forage feeding rules in the Fact Sheet section, Feeding Guidelines for Horses. One of my fundamental rules is that alfalfa hay can not be more than 50% of the total forage fed per day. This guideline is based on minimum fiber intake that I recommend. The amount of hay fed should approximate 1.5% of his body weight. So if your gelding weighs 1100 pounds then the combination of hays will be 16.5 pounds per day. The Integrity Lite will be a good choice for a horse with this work load. The amount fed can vary with his body weight, but for 1100 pound horse, I would suggest 2 pounds per day and on the days you ride him add an extra pound. That is, feed 3 pounds per day.rity Lite may be the balanced concentrate you will need to compliment the forage portion of her diet.

I have an old mare who has dental problems. She is on Integrity and the vet told me to keep her off of all grass and alfalfa hay, as she sounded impacted during the vet call. Should I continue to use Integrity for the time being without any foliage added?

If you remove baled hay from your mare’s diet, she still needs an adequate source of dietary fiber. You did not mention the specific dental issues but I surmised there are issues with her molars (jaw teeth) which are needed to reduce the particle size of the food being consumed. So, your option is to select a forage source in which the particle size has already been reduced which is a hay pellet and you will need to soak the hay pellet in water to an oatmeal consistency; you also may want to consider feeding smaller amounts more frequently. For example if she was being fed hay two times per day then divide the hay pellet daily feed allotment into three feedings. Also you most likely will feed less total weight of hay pellet since there will not being any orts (feed loss) as compared to baled hay. I usually suggest feeding hay pellets approximately 10% less (weight) than baled hay; that is, if the mare was being fed 16 lbs. of long stem hay per day then feed approximately 14 1/2 lbs. of the hay pellet per day. You will need to monitor her body condition score for weigh changes.

Star Milling has several hay pellets including Timothy, teff, Bermuda & Bermuda/alfalfa. You will need to review the fact sheet on Feeding Guidelines for Horses relative to the rate of changing the diet. When the diet is switched from a long stem forage source to a hay pellet (smaller particle size), the horse will drink less water. In addition, the smaller particle size of the fiber source is associated with a reduction in passage rate; in other words the gut will contract with less vigor. One final point of interest is that when a diet is changed, the major goal is not to upset the microflora (bacteria) that are habitants of the gut. Gut integrity is the number one nutritional management goal. The current line of Integrity products was not formulated to be a total replacement for forages but the Integrity Lite may be the balanced concentrate you will need to compliment the forage portion of her diet.

I’m trying to estimate the amount of Integrity Lite (no molasses) to feed my two horses; a 22 yr. Andalusian gelding with poor upper molars, and a 19 yr. Paso Fino mare with IR (insulin resistant) and minimal work. They live together in a 24 x 48 stall with a 24/7 bale net of Bermuda.  The Integrity bag label suggests about 6.6 pounds for a 1000 lb. horse.  In your response to an owner with a 28 yr. horse with Cushing's you had suggested 2 pounds/day of the Integrity Lite (no molasses).  I feed 4 pounds per day to the gelding and 2 pounds/day to the mare - each split into am/pm feedings.  Why the big difference in the label recommendation (6 pounds/day) and the recommendation to the 28 yr. horse (2 pounds/day? Would orchard or another hay be better?

The feeding guidelines that are provided on packaging address body weight, (and/or body condition score), and production/work levels only. This information is basic but there are a plethora of other factors that influence a horse’s diet besides body weight and production level, which is why I always use the phrase “Feeding Guidelines” for feeding recommendations. In the fact sheet section of Dr. Bray’s Corner, there is a fact sheet titled “What to Feed your Horse” This information provides a series of questions and subset list of questions that helps me provide recommendations. I wish I could print that fact sheet on the packaging but we do have Dr. Bray’s Corner which provides nutritional management recommendations. Feeding horses is much more than flakes of hay and scoops of grain. Star Milling’s Dr. Bray’s Corner emphasizes the importance developing nutritional management skills and the importance of using the body condition scoring system to guide the horse owner in feeding decisions.

Relative to your follow up question regarding orchard hay or another forage: all the grass hays are similar in nutrient/energy concentration because orchard grass on the West Coast is inconsistent with the calcium-phosphorus ratio I usually suggest a small amount (20%) of alfalfa hay be fed with the orchard as well.

Two days ago I got a year old horse that is a 1.5 on the BCS. I am trying to figure out a way to safely put weight back on him. I feed him Integrity Senior and Alfalfa Hay and he eats every scrap. I’ve read that horses below 3 BCS should only be fed alfalfa until they reach at least a 3 because they need the extra protein because their bodies have been breaking down protein due to the lack of food.
I don’t like feeding straight alfalfa, but I am unsure of switching at this time. I plan on adding oil to his diet but I am trying to introduce everything slowly as I don't know how they were fed prior to them coming to me. I am feeding four times a day currently. How long until I can start to see a difference in him?

The California study on feeding very low body condition score (BCS) horses concluded that recovery was better with feeding an alfalfa forage diet. The authors concluded that higher protein forage was a factor in the improved performance. I do not agree with the recommendations of the study.

As you will recall when evaluating a study, one must considered the experimental design relative to the outcome, and one must always consider that important question, “Does it make biological sense?” Horses that have low body condition scores 1 – 3 have usually been ignored in more than the lack of groceries. The primary goal is for the horse’s general health to be clinically evaluated and stabilized and introduced to grass forage. Keep in mind that the microbial population of the gut has been compromised and that microbial population must be populated and stabilized slowly. An alfalfa forage diet in the early stages introduces protein at a level that raises concerns with further compromising the microbial population by a rapid change in the type and number of microbes. I also do not recommend alfalfa as an only source of forage anyway (See the fact sheet, Feeding Guidelines for Horses, in Dr Bray’s Corner.)

I usually recommend feeding average quality grass hay in small amounts 6 times per day along with a daily probiotic supplement and a lot of observation. The microbes in the gut need time to acclimate to the energy and nutrients supplied by the forage, the gut needs time to acclimate to accommodating the volume of feed, and the horse needs time to acclimate to a feeding schedule and a routine that he will be fed. Intestinal microbes do need and depend on protein as a fuel and nutrient source but that protein source needs to be introduced gradually to allow the intestinal microbes to acclimate.

Horses that have been neglected will gain weight fairly quickly with a methodical feeding approach and that body condition score will elevate from a 1.5 to a 3 faster than you think. Once the horse reaches a 3 BSC then I would slowly reduce the feeding frequency to 3- 4 times per day, but not the amount of feed of course, then introduce a balanced formula that provides a protein source.

I have an 8 yr. old mustang, 13 hands, very low-key temperament, and fed about 5 pounds of Bermuda and 2 pounds of Bermuda pellets. He gets about 1/2 cup of Integrity along with salt (about 1 teaspoon) to increase his salt intake during the summer. He should weigh about 800 pounds, but looks obese. I am hesitant to reduce his forage because I do not want him to colic. What would you recommend I do for him?

Some of the numbers do not add up, even if the horse is truly an “easy keeper” (although in all my years working with horses I can only truly identify a couple of horses that were truly “easy or hard keepers”) 7 pounds of total hay and ½ cup Integrity is a ration more suited for a 450 to 525 lb. pony. Have you used a weight tape to estimate the body weight? In Dr. Bray’s Corner there is a fact sheet on estimating body weight. Is the 800 lbs. body weight an “eye” estimate? 800 lbs. is a heavy body weight for a 13.2 hands pony even if he is obese. So, in order for me to provide you more useful guidance, we need to double check the body weight and hay weight. The hay amount being fed may be underestimated.

Dr. Bray’s Note: The emailer responded that she did the weight tape measurement on the mustang and weighed the hay and let me know graciously that the mustang’s weight tape measurement was 405 pounds and that a large kitchen scale suggested the hay was 25 pounds. Although there may be some error in these weights as well, the bottom line emphasizes the importance of the body condition scoring system and weighing the feed fed to your horse.

I recently got a 5 year old Arabian who has trouble gaining weight. I have fed him over 10 lbs. of hay, along with pellets and a senior feed. Since we have been in training, he has no problem with energy, but hasn't put on any muscle.   My vet recommended an extruded feed, and when I took your class at Cal Poly, you were just coming out with Integrity. Is this feed an extruded feed? Will it make my young guy "hot"?  Will it help him put on more weight, even in training?

You did not indicate the amount of senior feed that is being fed or your horse’s body weight. If your Arabian is average height and weight, then 10 pounds of hay is inadequate. Visit the fact sheet section in Dr. Bray’s Corner on Feeding Guidelines. You should be feeding a minimum of 1.5% of his body weight in hay.

Also, feed alone does NOT put on muscle; a misconception that has existed in the horse industry since I can remember. Muscle build-up is influenced by genetic potential and of course an exercise program complemented by a balance diet that supplies the needed energy and nutrients for muscle improvement.

When there are difficulties with a horse gaining weight, there may be one or a combination of factors that contribute to the challenges. Looking at the type of feed or amounts fed is not always the first consideration. The horse’s complete nutritional management and health management needs to be considered. Some considerations will seem simple but as with any problem solving approach, exploring the options are needed to identify a solution. Some factors to consider:

  1. What is the current body condition score? What changes in the body condition score have occurred over the past 30, 60, and 90 days?
  2. How often is the horse dewormed? What deworming compounds were used? Is there a rotation in the deworming compounds active ingredients being used? Is a boticide being used? These considerations should be explored with your veterinarian.
  3. When was the horse’s teeth checked and/or floated?
  4. What is currently being fed and how often?
  5. Is the horse fed with other horses or as an individual?
  6. Have there been changes in last 30 days with types or amounts of feed being fed?
  7. Who feeds the horse? What is the training facility? What is the boarding facility? If others are feeding, are you ensuring the correct amounts are being fed?
  8. Have there been changes in the horse’s boarding conditions (i.e. changed in facility or stable mates)?
  9. What is the current work/training routine (i.e. frequency, intensity, etc.)?
  10. When did his work/training program begin?
  11. Have there been any health issues?

Extruded feeds have been cooked at high steam-temperatures and pressure for a short period of time. This extrusion process also allows the cooked product to be pushed through a die which is what provides the uniform and different shapes. The cooking process will partially “break down” or prepare the starches and protein so that in general these components of the feed are better utilized. There are studies that support the better utilization of extruded feeds. The fundamental question is when will an extruded feed best serve the horse relative to the horse’s energy needs? Although extruded feeds are more expensive to make, thus more expensive to the consumer, I have always liked the extrusion process with feeds that contain high level of grains, such as corn, barley and oats. I will recommend extruded feeds that contain high levels of grains  when the horse has high energy demands such as race horses, polo ponies, three-day event horses, some working horses (roping, cutting), early lactation, and sometimes selectively during early stages of growth.
If a horse needs to gain weight, the first approach is more calories. More calories can be accomplished by providing more feed or adding fat in the form of oil. Adding fat usually will not “insult” the nutrient – calorie ratio with most formulas and can provide the additional energy needed to gain weight. The amount of oil fed is depended on what is currently being fed, the horse’s body weight, and current work intensity. So I would need additional information to provide a specific amount of oil.

The Integrity Adult/Senior has properties that I like (and formulated) because it does have energy sources via rice bran, canola oil and oats but at the same time has ingredients (beet pulp & soy-hulls) that promote gut integrity. Integrity Adult/Senior is not an extruded feed and is not energy dense but is a low starch feed. Keep in mind that there is more nutritional management required when feeding an energy rich formula that is high in energy and starch. Star Milling’s Equine Age formula is a combination of extrusion and pellet forms and the first 3 ingredients on the label are alfalfa meal, wheat bran, and ground corn.

I have a 8 yr. Paint mare, in training; I usually work her daily for about 40 minutes. She is on Integrity, Adult/Senior; 1 1/4 lb., 2x daily along with the same amount of Bermuda pellets. I’m also supplementing her with an antacid supplementprebiotic supplementhoof supplement, and joint supplement, and psyllium 2x a week and bran mash as needed. I feed Bermuda hay, 2 flakes 2x a day. She had a knee injury about 2 years ago, then 1 year ago when I got her she scuffed up her back legs while being trailer to me, for about 8 months she would stock up every night. Every time she was brought out to work or she got excited she would get diarrhea. Am I over supplementing her or is it ok to supplement with the Integrity?

Integrity is a balanced formula to complement the forage portion of your horse’s diet. The formula is balanced for the 48+ nutrients required by the horse including biotin, zinc, copper, calcium, etc. which is a few of the ingredients in the over-the-counter supplements that you specifically referenced. The Integrity formulas also contains soluble fiber sources which are in the “family” of prebiotics as well as it contains a yeast culture. I do not generally recommend over-the-counter supplements for horses that are being fed a balance formula to complement the forage portion of the diet. If a horse is maintenance fed and can be maintained on only hay or pasture, then depending on several factors including geographic location and forage sources I may recommend a generic-complete vitamin/mineral supplement.

The diarrhea is most likely not related to feeding. Considerations to explore include deworming schedule, dental health, time of day worked, temperature where stabled and temperature when worked, horse’s temperament prior to work, and overall body condition relative to exercise deportment. I am not a big fan of daily psyllium supplementation and there is a fact sheet on those thoughts in Dr. Bray’s Corner. If your horse has been diagnosed by a DVM with ulcers and joint problems then I would visit with your vet about more proven treatments then the over-the-counter supplements. The Integrity formulas provide adequate levels of biotin, lysine and methionine which are the primary ingredients being marketed by your hoof supplement.

I have heard people talk about Integrity and was wondering how it compares to the supplement and horse feed I use. The ingredients include probiotics, electrolytes, and minerals. Does this mean I would no longer need to include these if I switched to your product?

Those supplements are not needed when feeding Integrity. The Integrity products are balanced formulas that complement the forage portion of the diet relative to all the nutrients and energy required by horses. The formulas are fortified with yeast culture and prebiotics that nourish the microflora of the horse’s gut and fortified with vitamins & minerals. The fat source rice bran and the protein/fat source ground-flaxseed are also ingredients of the Integrity formulations. Integrity also contains the soluble fiber sources (beet pulp & soy hulls) that promote gut integrity and these two soluble fiber sources are primary ingredients in the formulas. The two products you referenced in your inquiry are different. One is a supplement that is NOT a balanced formula which promotes coconut meal as an ingredient. Coconut meal is a high protein source (~21.0% crude protein) and very low fat source (~2.2% crude fat). I do not consider the composition of coconut meal anything special in formulating horse feeds and the ingredient is very expensive. The other product you referenced is an extruded feed and the extrusion process has been around for many decades. I am very particular about the list of ingredients in my formulations and the product line you referenced in your email is what I consider “1970s” ingredient formulation.

I have a 20-year-old warm blood mare in very good health.  She is fed a commercial complete formula, rice bran and a joint supplement, with good grass hay.  I'm looking at Integrity to maintain her weight, her excellent condition and energy level for her work, but to take her sharpness down a few notches!  Would you suggest Integrity Senior or low starch?

Integrity Adult/Senior is the choice I would suggest for your working mare. This formula contains less fat and the ingredient panel’s differences with your current feed are an important factor. The intensity of working bouts, the amounts of feeds (weights) and the mare’s estimated body weight would be helpful in order to provide you additional feeding guidelines.

The commercial product you are now feeding contains 12% crude protein, 15% crude fiber and 12% crude fat. The first 4 ingredients of your textured feed are beet pulp, cane molasses, whole oats & oil. High fat feeds, such as this one (8% and higher), have their place with horses that are working at the intense to heavy levels of competitive performance or during the first 10 weeks of lactation. However for light to moderate working horses (which I am assuming your mare is in that range), I prefer a balanced formula that is 4 – 7% crude fat and has more variety in the Ingredient panel before the molasses ingredient shows up. Molasses is the 2nd ingredient in the formula you are feeding. The amount of molasses in a texture feed can vary from as low as 3% to as high as 16%. Since ingredient panels list feed quantities of the formula in descending order then molasses is the 2nd ingredient in total weight in that formula. Molasses is NOT one of the ingredients I want to see in the first 4 ingredients listed.

In Integrity Adult/Senior the first four ingredients are beet pulp, soy hull pellet, soybean meal & rice bran. Molasses is the 6th ingredient. This Integrity formula’s guarantee analysis is 13% crude protein, 6.5% crude fat and 16% crude fiber. The 6.5% fat content of this formula is for a very good reason. Fat is an excellent source of fuel and also is an alternative to high starch grains. My approach is that if a horse needs more energy via fat during periods of more intense workouts then I can just add (top-dress) oil to the amount being fed.

One of the benefits with oil is that unlike other feedstuffs oil provides fat, an energy feedstuff that does not contain other nutrients that when top-dressed would adversely influence the nutrient content of the original formula. If a horse needs more or less fuel for work then the flexibility of when to add or reduce the energy via oil does not significantly alter the amounts of feed being fed and does not adversely influence the levels of nutrients being fed. In other words, minimizing the type of feed changes that have the potential of influencing the gut environment unfavorably. Next to meeting energy & nutrient requirements, my number one goal in feeding horses is taking care of gut integrity thus consistency is important..

I have a 24 year old quarter horse. He eats 1/4 to 1/3 flake of alfalfa and 1/2 flake of Bermuda hay morning and night. He is out in a Bermuda pasture for about 5 hrs. each day. He is also on “vitamin / mineral” supplement. My vet recommended feeding a senior feed with less starch and we now feed him Integrity Lite. He’s worked 4 - 5 days a week of trail riding or hand walks. Does he need to be on the “vitamin / mineral” supplement?

The fact sheet What to Feed your Horse provides the type of information that is helpful when I am answering feeding questions. For example, how much of the Integrity Lite are you feeding per day? Is the trail riding mostly at a walk, walk/trot, etc.? What is the estimated body weight of the Quarter horse? If the 24 year old is an average size Quarter horse than approximately 1 flake of hay per day would not be adequate forage without the pasture-grazing every day. In general, if the trail riding is light (horse is warm or slightly damp at the end of the ride) and the body weight is around 1050 lbs. then you would feed approximately 2.5 – 4.0 pounds per day of Integrity Lite along with your current pasture/hay feeding. When feeding adequate amounts of a balanced formula, like the Integrity product line, a vitamin/mineral supplement is not needed.

I have been happy how my Icelandic mare has been doing on the Integrity Lite feed. In the summer/hot weather months I'd like to give her feed that peps her up a little.  Would the Integrity Senior be a safe solution? Or, should I mix the Integrity Lite with the Integrity Senior half and half? She is in proper weight and has no health issues. She is 14 years old.

The Integrity Adult/Senior is lower fiber, has a bit more fat, and contains oats, thus more calories than the Integrity Lite. To provide more fuel for a horse’s daily needs, you can also add fat via corn, soy or peanut oil. In general 1/2 cup is added for hair coat shine and for an energy boost, 1/2 to 1 cup per day. The horse’s energy demands, work level coupled with body weight and amount of balanced formula being fed are the determining factors for the amount of oil to be added.

I have a 24 yr. old Quarter horse gelding, poor teeth and the past few years his sheath has had edema. He is ridden once a week. I also have a 17 yr. old Quarter horse mare, which I have self-diagnosed as fibrotic myopathy in her left rear. She is ridden lightly 3 times a week.
I feed them Integrity low starch with Timothy, as well as orchard grass hay. The Integrity low starch w/Timothy was recommended the last time I had their teeth done. Since they are seniors, should I be feeding them another supplement? My mare is 17 but she is high strung.

The lowest starch and highest fiber formula in the Integrity product line is Integrity Lite without molasses. This formula is well suited for older horses that may be inactive or worked lightly. As with all Integrity formulas, Integrity Lite is a balanced formula to complement the forage portion of the horse’s diet. Integrity Low Starch Timothy is a formula more suited for more active working horses and does not contain the high starch grains corn and barley.

What is the NSC is for the Low Starch Timothy Feed and the Senior without Molasses feed?

The percentage of starch and ESC (Ethanol Soluble Carbohydrates) are the measurements I use to evaluate the non-structural carbohydrates in a feed. NSC is mathematically calculated from the following: %NSC = 100 – (moisture + NDF + CP + Fat + Ash) and thus is an indirect empirical (mathematical) determination. The empirical score that one sees as % NSC has variables and inconsistencies when comparing feedstuffs. The Integrity Adult/Senior (No Molasses) contains 5.5% starch and 5.9% ESC. Integrity Lite – No Molasses contains 1.6% starch and 5.9% ESC. Integrity Low Starch Timothy contains 13.2% starch and 7.4% ESC.

I have an 18 year old Arabian gelding who is just my pet. He is a little overweight and I want to know if I should feed him Integrity Lite or Integrity Senior?

Since he is not active and is your companion, the Integrity Lite will be ideal. This formula does not have any starch-containing grains so it’s very low starch; Integrity Lite without molasses ESC (ethanol soluble carbohydrates) is 5.9% and the %starch is 1.6%; thus the %starch + %ESC = 7.5%.

Other attributes of Integrity Lite are that the first two ingredients in the formula are beet pulp and soy-hulls, which contribute to gut integrity. It contains 22% crude fiber and is low in energy. Equally important, Integrity Lite is balance for all the required nutrients to compliment the forage portion of his diet. For an average size Arabian gelding that is not active, I would suggest feeding 1 1/2 to 2 pounds per day.

Can I soak Integrity Lite to increase water intake? Is there a limit to how long it should soak?

Yes, you can mix Integrity Lite with water. The first two ingredients of this product are beet pulp and soy hulls and both feedstuffs will take up water. I do not know the circumstances for your horse but for average conditions, adding water to a feed does not influence the daily water intake.
Adding water to beet pulp has evolved as a common practice because “raw” shredded beet pulp (without additives such as molasses) is rigid, prickly and requires the horse to chew for longer periods of time to mix with saliva and soften before swallowing. Chewing and increase salvia are actually beneficial to the horse’s health because salvia has a buffering attribute that is important in maintaining gut pH thus promoting a healthy bacteria population in the hindgut. Commercial feeds usually contain molasses and/or fat and these ingredients along with moisture from other feed ingredients during the manufacturing of the feed will soften the beet pulp.

If you add water to beet pulp then add equal volume of water to the feed and allow it to soften, which is usually a very short time. I’m not sure where the overnight soaking came from, but it’s an extreme. We are not making beet pulp wine.

I have been feeding Integrity Horse/Senior to my 20 year-old Arabian and 4 year-old Icelandic horses for about two years. I feed a flake of grass hay morning and night and give them Integrity for lunch. I read that I should be splitting up the amount in 2 different feedings. Is this correct or should I continue with my method?

In general you should not feed more than 4 – 5 lbs. at one meal but that recommendation is more directed for horses being fed at high levels of production, such as a lactating mare or working horse at the “intense to heavy work load”. In dated and current literature (Extension publications, magazines, etc.) you will read do not feed more than 5 lbs. per meal. That recommendation evolved because of the adverse consequences of feeding large quantities of a feed rich in carbohydrates. Many, if not most, of the early commercial feeds, the first 4 ingredients were primarily oats, corn, barley, and soybean meal. Those formulas were low fiber (<8.0%), low fat (<3.0%) and high starch (>35.0%).

The Integrity product line is not like those formulas. For Integrity Senior/Adult the first four ingredients are beet pulp, soybean hulls pellet, rice bran, and soybean meal; this formula is modestly high fiber (16.0%), modest in fat (6.5%) and low starch (5.5%). One of the attributes of Integrity Adult/Senior is to promote gut integrity while supplying the required nutrients and fuel to the horse complementing the forage portion of the diet.  Although my formulas are substantially less dense in non-structural carbohydrates and thus very low starch content, I still embrace the nutritional management practice of not feeding more than 5 lbs. of a balanced formula per meal. That nutritional management belief is based on the importance of promoting a healthy and reliable gut.

If you are feeding less than 2 1/2 lbs. at lunch and it’s working for you then continue. If you are feeding closer to 4 lbs. at lunch then I would suggest dividing the feed amounts into two meals. There are other factors that can influence the feeding schedule such as frequency of work, intensity of work, time of work relative to feeding schedule, if the horse is inactive, etc. Nevertheless keep in mind what you have been doing has worked for 2+ years which translates to good nutritional management. There is a fact sheet on Feeding Guidelines for Horses that may provide additional guidance. Let me know if I can be of any more help.

How do I switch my horse to Integrity Lite without Molasses from straight beet pulp? I know that Integrity Lite already has beet pulp in it so I am wondering how slowly to switch it over.

Be sure you take a look at the fact sheet under Dr. Bray’s Corner Fact Sheet tab, Feeding Guidelines for Horses. In general for changes in balance feed mixes, grain base mixes, or commodities (oats, beet pulp, rice bran, wheat bran, etc.), the recommendation is approximately 1/4 lb. change-over per day. There are some circumstances in which the change may need to be an every-other-day basis. I recognize that this recommendation is conservative but with the diverse experience of horse owners today, a conservative recommendation is sensible. Besides, what’s the rush?

 

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