Your Guide to Equine Health Care

7 Tips for Selecting and Feeding a Complete Feed

Here are seven tips for selecting and feeding complete feeds for horses.

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What you should know before you make the switch.

When good-quality hay or forage is unavailable, or when the horse can no longer consume hay, horse owners have the option of utilizing what is termed a “complete feed” to replace the forage component of their horses’ diet. However, choosing a complete feed and understanding how to feed it can be challenging. Randel Raub, PhD, director of Equine Business Development and Technical Services at Land O’ Lakes Purina Mills, and Tom Trotter, general manager of Progressive Nutrition, offer seven tips for selecting and feeding complete feeds to help alleviate some of the concerns with this type of diet.

Tip 1: Know how to identify a complete feed

When describing feeds, the terms complete, supplement, and concentrate are often used with varying meanings. So what exactly is the difference?

“My definition of a complete feed is one that can be fed without hay, so it provides adequate amounts and types of fiber because the forage or hay component is built in,” says Raub. “The complete feed should also provide the protein, vitamin, and mineral components of a horse’s diet; it should not require any type of additional supplementation. Some feed companies use the term complete feed for what I refer to as a complete concentrate, like an Omolene (a texturized Purina feed) or Strategy (a pelleted Purina feed). My definition of a true supplement is more of a nutrient-limited type of product, like biotin, which is a more specific single nutrient supplement than calorie supplements like rice bran or corn oil.”

Trotter has a similar definition of a complete feed, that is “a product which contains protein, vitamins, and minerals, and appropriate levels of forage so that product can be fed to a high percentage of the diet so it can meet the animal’s requirements.” He uses the term “grain mix” to describe what Raub calls a complete concentrate. As far as supplements, he states, “There are supplements that are just one thing, and then there are supplements that are more complete and more

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Written by:

Jon Padgham is a freelance writer and works as an equine nutritionist for D&L Farm and Home in Aubrey, Texas. He obtained his master’s degree in horse nutrition from Kansas State University in 2001.

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