My inbox is always constant with requests for help with feeding and what to feed with HHIO. I have put together below my complimentary feeding advice. For further help or if you are time limited please feel free to purchase the feed plan from the shop and i can formulate a custom plan for you (which is based off this feeding guide).
HHIO Formulations concentrate on filling the most commonly deficient minerals, vitamins and amino acids from New Zealand Pasture, Feed & Hay. For best results they work alongside plain whole food feeds. The most important aspect of a horses diet is fibre and for best results fibre that contains sugars and starches 10% or less.
This applies across the board, from turned out horses through to horses in full work.
For more specific topics such as grass issues, weight gain and the whys of mineral ratios, please click on the sub pages above.
"A horse receiving an ample supply of minerals will require less feed and perform at a higher level than a horse that is not. With minerals, a horse will have a greater resistance to disease. General health will be increased."
Feeds, pasture and hay tend to be HIGH in:
Feeds, pasture and hay tend to be LOW in:
NB: This is very commonly found but not a 100% rule. Kikuyu/oxalate binding grasses are an exception. The only way you will truly know is to test your hay and pasture (not soil) which is recommended but often not feasible.
Minerals work in cohesion with or against each other and ratios are important. Many minerals play a synergistic role with each other such as Iron, Copper, Manganese and Zinc or Calcium & Magnesium, Potassium & Sodium or Calcium & Phosphorus.
FEEDS WITH MINERALS/VITAMINS ADDED
HHIO are designed to supply all that your horse actually needs minerally wise and so it is not recommended to feed commercial/premixed feeds, alongside.
Most commercial/.premixed feeds include potassium, calcium, iron & manganese which are commonly in excessive levels already in NZ hay/pasture. Commercial feeds are unfortunately not the greatest ratios or levels for NZ conditions by the time you add them to a diet already high in Potassium, Iron, Manganese & Calcium—provided by the grass, hay or haylage your horse eats. Often commercial feeds are mixed with ingredients that are considered potentially detrimental to gut, immune, hormone, metabolic or behavioural health and leave much to the imagination such as the ingredient name "mill runs". Commonly people feed at less than the recommended doses, and feed a scoop of this and a scoop of that, which leads to a very minerally imbalanced horse. Or if fed at the recommended dose rate, it is often to high in calories which most horses don't need as lets face it, a huge number of leisure horses in NZ are overfed and underworked.
HHIO formulas fed together with a commerical mineral added feed is a bad idea because....
You screw up the ratios
You can create deficiencies or toxities (especially Selenium)
You waste your money by doubling up
You feed stuff to your horse they actually may not need
You may compromise your horses gut, hoof and overall health
Your feed bill gets costly and complex
CALCIUM NOTE: If your horse grazes kikuyu grass , Calcium is required as this grass type binds Calcium. If you have broodmares/breeding/young stock, extra calcium AND Phosphorus is recommended to be supplemented, in the correct ratio.
Complete list of horse feeds with no ADDED minerals
Chaff - Timothy, Meadow, Oaten, Lucerne* (not any fermented wrapped type product)
Plain pellets - Timothy, Lucerne*
Sugar Beet (non molasses version)**
Flaxseed**/Linseed & Hemp - crushed, extruded, pellets or flakes (omega sources)
Now, not all of these feeds are suitable for all equines and HHIO doesn't recommend them all but they are none the less feeds without ADDED minerals and do and can work well for horses. They do however have minerals in them but to a much lesser degree and smart feeding utilizes these without impacting ratios. They are all pretty easily sourced and economical.
* food that may not be suitable for a laminitic/metabolic/IR horse or cause issues for some horses in general.
**Something to note - there is ancedotal evidence of Flaxseed & Beet causing issues in some horses. An omega source is generally needed if horse is on a majority hay diet or grazing really poor/nonexsistent grass.
Equines with NO issues
Anything in the list above taking note of the following Calcium:Phosphorus ratios outlined below.
Now of course horses are individuals so some feeds may work for some but not others.
Feeds that could potentially cause issues are Lucerne, Soya, Rice Bran, Barley, Wheat & Oats. So if in doubt, steer clear or add one at a time and give time to monitor for any issues.
A note about Lucerne, some horses tolerate fine, some don’t. Often it can be the straw that breaks the camels back in regards to high calcium levels (if horse deficient in sodium and magnesium) and photodynamic pigment content causing photosensitivity issues - mud fever, head flicking. Lucerne has a heap of amazing attributes so it would be unfortunate to right off completely.
HHIO recommends a base of Copra (max 1/2 cup) and Chaff and then build on top of that as to your horses needs, likes and condition. Many people use a base of Beet, but consideration must be given to the Phosphorus component.
Equines WITH issues
This is issues of ANY kind be it behavioural, grass, health, hooves, illness, ulcers, sloppy manure, laminitic, metabolic, weight - I think you get the idea.
Your list becomes a lot smaller, stick to:
Chaff - Timothy
Copra (I do not recommend Beet if experiencing issues) limited to 1/2 daily max
Extruded Rice and Lupins for higher work loads, weight gain. (Not suitable for Metabolic horses.)
BALANCING YOUR BASE FEED
To balance your base feed - feed one source from each column below. If you pick two from the left, you will need to either go with two on the right, or increase the one source you are using of the feed on the right.
This is a very basic version of balancing a feed with Calcium and Phosphorus which works really well for HHIO users. For more elaborate needs please purchase the Feed Plan help.
Calcium:Phosphorus feeds are higher in Calcium than they have Phosphorus
Phosphorus:Calcium feeds are higher in Phosphorus than in Calcium
The Calcium:Phosphorus ratio you are aiming for is 1:1 to 1.5:1. Which means your calcium should be equal to or no more than 1.5 times higher than phosphorus. This is for your average adult equine.
Breeding & Young Stock require a higher ratio of 2:1 - 2:5:1, meaning your calcium should be 2-2.5 times higher than Phosphorus. The addition of DCP (Dicalcium Phosphate) is an easy and cost effective way to supplement additional calcium and phosphorus for those that require more.
NB: The vast majority of typically fed grass hays and pasture will meet the calcium minimums (20g for average 500kg sized adult horse at maintenance), but not quite there for phosphorus.
(Feeds higher in Calcium, lower in Phosphorus)
Most grass hays
Chaffs & Pellets - Meadow, Timothy, Lucerne
Beet pulp (no molasses)
(Feeds higher in Phosphorus, lower in Calcium)
Oats & Oaten Chaff
Seeds such as Sunflower
Recommended Daily Feed Plan
FORAGE & WATER
Good quality hay and/or pasture if suitable.
Clean constant source of water 24/7.
This should be first and foremost of ANY equines diet.
If on grass 24/7 hay must still be fed and ensured eaten especially if issues of any kind.
Timothy Chaff or Lucerne Chaff (if suitable)
Copra (limit to 1/2-1 cup daily max)
1 heaped Tablespoon salt (450+kg horse)
HHIO Base, Foundation or Performance
HHIO Support or Restore if required
The base feed suggestion is recommended for an average horse in good weight, ridden 3-4 times per week and out on some grass. For horses needing extra due to condition, work load etc use the feeds below taking into consideration the individual horses tolerances. Generally Extruded lupins and Rice Bran (Coprice R) are good to's.
ADD if NEEDED (& SUITABLE)
Extruded Rice, Barley, Wheat Bran/Pollard, Rice Bran, Oats, Extruded Lupins
Once horses have been on HHIO products for 3+ months and especially longer term 6+ months, it is not uncommon to reduce feed levels, or if the horses work load increases there is generally no requirement to increase feed as they tend to hold their condition easily.
HAY, HAY AND MORE HAY! NOT HAYLAGE…. HAY!!
Horses are designed to eat fibre and lots of it.
Feed hay all day, every day, all year round.
Good quality hay is often all a horse needs along with correct mineral balance. You would be surprised how many horses actually do just fine on this and actually thrive. Instead of spending all your money on copious amounts of hard feed and shoveling it into your horse, spend it on GOOD hay. Often people will say my horse won’t eat the hay and then when I inspect it, I’m not surprised, it doesn't smell nice, its full of weeds (usually dock) and is musty.
Spending $8 on a poor quality bale of hay that your horse eats 1/3 of, versus spending $12 on a good quality bale of hay that your horse eats all of it, is pretty self explainatory! Not to mention poor quality hay usually is infested with weeds, which will then infest your paddocks!
If your horse is grazing very short overgrazed grass, a couple of slabs of hay a day, won’t be cutting the mustard. If your horse has sloppy manure the number one common fix is feed more hay (and make sure they eat it)!!
For horses that are impacted by Laminitis and Metabolic Issues including Insulin Resitance. The Sugar and Starch levels of the hay are important. This is something that can be easily tested by Hills Lab's for approx $100. Starch should be no more than 4% and ESC & combined Starch no more than 10%. This should also translate across into hard feeds which means most grains are not suitable. Be warned commercial feeds advertised as low Starch are commonly not low starch. Low Starch is considered 4% and under. Most "low starch" feeds sit around 11%. If in doubt, contact the manufacturer. Harvest Grains based in Cambridge fantastic smart feeds (DIY especially, and Timothy & Lucerne smart feeds) which ticks these boxes and the customer service is excellent.
Phosphorus generally is deficient across the board in New Zealand pasture and hays with the exception of Oxalate pastures. A really common symptom of low phosphorus is when an animal eats wood, bark, manure, dirt etc. They are innately searching for Phosphorus. This can be more noticeable during times when grass is growing quickly causing mineral balances to be even more accenuated. Supplementing Phosphorus by itself is generally not recommended unless confirmed by recent hay/pasture tests.
Salt (Sodium Chloride) is one of the most commonly deficient minerals in a horses diet and is an important mineral. If you are not in a position to feed your horse, it is vitally important you provide access to salt for your horse. Mineral blocks are not suitable and horses will not get their needs met by this. A bucket of loose salt left in a sheltered area is a simple way for a horse to get salt. Horses actively seek out salt.
HHIO recommends to tap the amount 'force fed' at 2 tablespoons for 450kg size animal.
Supplement anything additional via the bucket system above.
ADDITIONAL FEED PLAN HELP
This feeding approach provides great results and the main advice here is to keep it very simple and feed a horse like a horse.
Everything is outlined here in order for you to change to a whole feed diet that best compliments HHIO products. I spend a great deal of my time outlining this information to people, so its now all in one place and will continually be updated and changed as research and information comes to hand.
If you would like more custom help with your horses diet, please purchase the feed help plan available in the shop.