Horse balanced nutrition (vitamin and mineral supps) and hay analysis questions

Hi there! First time poster with lots of questions!

I am trying to figure out the best way to balance my horses’ nutrition. So any helpful links or resources you have I would appreciate! I have tried to do my own research but sometimes I feel I am still missing important information. I would love any help you all can give me.

I have read a lot about the importance of getting a hay analysis so that you know which vitamins and minerals to supplement with. However, at the place I board at I am not sure I would be able to accurately determine what they get consistently. This is due to the hay coming from at least three different sites through out Utah. The owner also gets small and frequent shipments, meaning the hay is constantly being rotated. I am curious if doing a hay analysis would still be beneficial for me? I have the thought that to be accurate I would have to analyze each pastures batches of hay. Or would one analysis give me a decent base to go off of? Or ideas on how I can go about getting an accurate hay analysis? They feed alfalfa hay where I board at and I know Utah is known for having high selenium levels.

Does anyone has any recommendations on an overall complete vitamin and mineral supplement? Without a hay analysis at this time I would not know if they even need all of the specific ingredients, but I would be willing to pay a tad extra just to guarantee they are getting what they need. Even if they are just peeing out the majority of it!

I have been looking at Horse Tech’s High Point-Alfalfa. The only concern is the low biotin content. Farrier recommended and we both saw a beneficial change after the addition of DuMor Hoof care for one of the horses in my care. The only ingredient I don’t think I could replace at the same amount with the High Point is biotin. Any other products that you are aware of that would have a higher biotin content or a product of biotin alone?

I would like to also add extra vitamin E and flax. UltraCruz Natural Vitamin E seems to be the cheapest quality product I personally could find. I am not sure on what product to go with for the flax. Triple Crown has a ground flax that looks decent but I may not be able to find a dealer. I have also seen the Omega Horseshine which I have seen good reviews.

I have heard of horse hair analysis being done as a way to identify deficiencies. I am not sold on the accuracy of this method. Can anyone say with any certainty that this would be a good route to go?

Thank you in advance for any information you can give me!

Hair analysis is not useful.

You can buy pure biotin inexpensively in bulk.

If you know the species of grass and where the hay is grown, you can at least have a rough idea of what the values might be.

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I am definitely leaning toward the hair analysis just being a waste of money. Also, all of the reviews I have seen is people stating that their horse was diagnosed with such and such and now they are doing better. I have no faith in a hair analysis being an appropriate diagnostic tool. Seems very hokey to me!

Would you please elaborate on what you mean by having a rough idea of what the values might be? Do you know of a resource that would give me a basic nutritional break down for specific grasses in certain areas?

You can try Feed XL.

You can talk to the local state Agricultural people.

Typically alfalfa, Timothy, Orchard, and the various other grasses have typical nutrition profiles, for instance alfalfa will have more calcium and protein than grass. Mature hay tends to have less nutrients than early stage hay. Some soils are high in iron or high or low in selenium, or depleted of minerals generally.

Just checked out Feed XL and they have a free basic subscription for a month. I am signing up now!

Oh thank you for the idea of speaking with the local state ag!

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Cal Trace and K.I.S. are wonderful forage balancing supplements. I add biotin with BioFlax.

@JB this is up your alley, please.

OP, you state you are in an area with known high selenium. PLEASE be careful when deciding on a VM or ration balancer that you don’t overdose your horse. You like HorseTech products - call them. They will speak with you and are known to be helpful and knowledgeable.

Given your hay situation, I would not bother with an analysis. Is your horse on any pasture turnout? What is the ‘quality’ of the pasture? Do you know what type of grass hay is being fed? Is it orchard, timothy, teff…?? Or just a “local to you” pasture that was cut and baled? Is there any alfalfa being fed? Do you know where the hay originated from (example, here in Oregon we generically call our hay ‘local’, ‘eastern’, or ‘southern’ grown)?

Is your horse being fed any sort of “bucket feed”? (anything that comes out of a bag, really).

Flax - buy whole seed and grind your own or just feed whole. You really can do that. :yes: Biotin - easy and cheap to add. Vitamin E - you are right that Ultra Cruz is the best bang for your buck. Many of us out here use it.

I think starting with these basic questions, then perhaps we can recommend a more specific-to-you VM supplement.

Agree on not bothering with a hay analysis. If you know which counties the hay is coming from, definitely contact those Ag agencies to see if they have an average for that type of hay in that county. Then you’d have to do some averaging of your own unless they all come back pretty similar

Get blood work done for your horse’s Selenium level before deciding on any supplement with, or without Se

HPG is a pretty comprehensive v/m supplement. Biotin is cheap to add. But if you need to consolidate, either ask them to add biotin for a custom mix (and maybe also needing to tell them no Se), or maybe use California Trace No Se which has 25mg biotin.

I would NOT use K.I.S. Trace without blood Se level first - a serving has 3mg Se

You can do the UltraCruz E (the powder is really fine, they also have pellets), you can also do human gel caps from Puritan’s Pride or Nature Valley and some others.

Most feed stores can get a big bag of whole flax. You don’t HAVE to grind unless your horse just doesn’t chew well.
No to hair analysis - 100% useless for any of this :slight_smile:

Is alfalfa your only option at your barn?

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If you’re getting this from Tractor Supply (DuMor is their house brand), then they also carry Triple Crown. If they don’t have it in the store, they can order it for you. Purina actually distributes TC now, so any Purina dealer can order TC products. I suggest this for the Ground Flax TC has, if (like me), you have a hard time finding it whole .

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Dumor also has a ground flax supplement if that makes things easier

Is that the Ultra Shine? It’s the only one I saw that had any flax in it. Manna Pro also makes Simply Flax and Tractor Supply carries that too.

Oohhhh, yes, sorry, it was the Manna Pro Simply Flax at TSC.

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Thank you everyone for your comments! They are most helpful.

They are not on green pasture just dry turnout during the day, stalled at night. They get two flakes alfalfa in the morning and three flakes alfalfa at night. Yes, I know going by weight is more accurate but when they are feeding 70+ horses it isn’t going to happen. Alfalfa is all that is available at the barn I am at. I do supplement with grass pellets, usually timothy hay.

C gets about 1 lb of safechoice, 2ish lbs of timothy pellets, and a serving of Grand Coat (May keep this instead of the flax, it helped with his dry skin during Utah winters).

N gets soaked alfalfa cubes, 1 cup of beet pulp, 2 lbs timothy pellets, 6 oz DuMor hoof care, SmartStride Senior supplement (His mom is thinking of cutting this as he is going to be receiving Pentosan). I can only assume but do you believe it is the biotin in the hoof supplement that gave the positive results?

I am not sure where in Utah the hay is from or what counties. I can ask the owner in the morning though. I did reach out to my local Ag to see if there was a way to get average nutritional values form the hay grown in Utah. I haven’t heard back as of yet.

I really just want to make sure I am not missing anything vital that they need and I feel a VM would help with that. If I am covering all their bases with just alfalfa hay and some grass pellets awesome, less I have to supplement and buy. However, I fear that is not the case. I learned about the necessity of supplementing vitamin E if they are not on pasture and now feel I have dropped the ball on their nutrition! I haven’t seen any negative side effects of not supplementing but I am curious to see what changes I will see once I do start feeding it. Thank you for the confirmation on the Ultra Cruz. I will be ordering some after I finish this post!

JB- you suggested getting a selenium level even if I decide to go with a product that does not contain any. Is there a concern of selenium toxicity from just the hay they eat? Since this was brought up I looked for the toxic level of selenium and it seems to be closer to 0.2mg/kg, or in my boys cases around 100mg. I just glanced through a quick google search so this may not be completely accurate. However, 100mg (~500 kg horses) seems a lot higher of an amount and the 2-3mg doses in the mentioned supplements don’t seem as scary…

JB- you also mentioned HPG as a comprehensive supplement. I am not familiar with your abbreviation, but if there is a possibility to ‘customize’ I would love to reach out to the company for more information. Adding biotin for the one and removing selenium as a precaution would solve quite a bit!

Thanks again everyone, you have all had great insight!

Since we have all ruled a hair analysis as worthless, would there be any use in getting a blood test done for more than just selenium?

Since hay analysis is out I am just ‘shooting in the dark’ for what nutritional gaps the boys have, if any.

OP, HPG is High Point Grass, a Horse Tech product.

Bloodwork for anything more than selenium… why? What would you be looking for? If you can answer that, then maybe. Or maybe just to have the values on file in case you need a reference point in the future.

Okay, so your horses are on a dry lot and fed straight alfalfa for hay, you do the rest. I would not be adding alfalfa cubes to that. I would use timothy or other grass. If you’re going to go with High Point, I would use the ‘alfalfa’ formulation - it’s for horses who’s primary diet is alfalfa.

Alfalfa is high in calcium. In horses the Ca:P ratio is “supposed” to be 2:1. It can go higher in adults, it’s the youngsters where we worry most. Anyway, if I was feeding your horses, this is where I’d start:

#1 - get the selenium blood test. From there -

Scenario A - bloodwork great, okay to feed a VM that has added Se. Horses fed all alfalfa hay, I need something to put in buckets to get them to eat their supplements. Beet pulp would be out as it is already very high in calcium. I would use grass hay pellets/cubes, I personally feed Uckele Equi VM, along with my chosen hoof supplement (I use Nu Hoof Accelerator), Vitamin E, flax or other oil for skin if needed.

Scenario B - bloodwork showing elevated selenium levels or vet advises to be extremely cautious of feeds containing added Se. The only thing I’d change from my above is to find a VM supp without added Se. To that end, I would be calling Horse Tech, Uckele, and having a custom blend done for me. CA Trace makes their formulation without Se, you could try that too. I know a lot of people swear by it, I personally am not that impressed.

Now, the last thing is the phosphorus needs. You are probably fine, but in years past I added a bit of oats to my alfalfa based diets. You can also buy a phosphorus supplement, if keeping a bag of oats is not advisable.

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Blood work is not very good for most nutrient status either. Se and Vit E are 2 that are reliable enough. You also can’t just rely on what’s common or average for selenium in the state. Not every plot of land will fall in the average, and not every horse metabolizes Se the same way, so you really just need to test, which is a good thing to do anyway if you live in a state known to be high on average

Se toxicity CAN occur just from hay. That’s probably not very common, but it can happen. Another reason to test if you live in an area known to be high.

Forage and total diet analysis is best by far. When you don’t have that, see if your Ag Extension Agency has an average for the hay you’re getting (or the agency for the county where the hay comes from).

Obsidian did a great job :yes

California Trace is a very good supplement…for the situations where it balances the rest of the diet. It doesn’t do that for all diets. I know many real life examples where 1-1.5lb of a ration balancer does a much better job

Vit E - it’s a fat soluble vitamin so is stored in fat for slow release. It could take a good while for stores to deplete enough. That said, in this case, being higher in selenium actually helps. Where E falls short, Se can take up some slack (and vice versa) in terms of free radical fighting. I would STILL make sure to supplement around 2IU/lb for horses on hay-only diets.

Thank you JB! :lol::lol:

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Horses don’t digest whole flax seed well - use the ground. You could call any of the larger feed dealers research farm and speak to a nutritionist about your horses, the area they are in, etc. and get better advice on what their feed contains and what your horse needs. Many of the feed companies have nutritionists in the field that will be glad to help you.