Sunday, June 27, 2010

Feeding Tips for Boarders

Boarding your horse always makes controlling your horse’s diet harder but many have found ways to work beet pulp into the routine. See the Beet Pulp articles for more information about beet pulp. Follow the same general guidelines if using hay pellets instead of beet pulp.

  • If you can get to the barn daily, soak the beet pulp at home or at work or during your drive (a small cooler can work well for soaking and transporting).
  • You can soak your beet pulp once a week or so and keep it in baggies in your freezer, ready for a quick grab on your way out the door.
  • If the barn has a refrigerator, you can soak/drain/rinse the beet pulp at home and pack in individual baggies to keep in the barn’s fridge. (For more than 3-4 days, it should be kept in the freezer.)
  • While “soak/drain/rinse” is ideal to remove surface iron, dust and residual sugar, the draining/rinsing could be skipped if your beet pulp is unmolassed and relatively dust free and no refrigerator is available. In this case, make sure you have figured out how much water needs to be added and supply a cup that holds that much (or mark your bucket with a water line).
  • If the barn owner is willing to help, make it easy for them. Pre-measure the beet pulp and your supplements into baggies, provide a large closed bucket or other container to keep your stuff neat and together. If needed, provide the bucket for soaking/feeding, a colander for draining (this can be skipped), a large cup for measuring water (like a plastic soda cup) and a metal sweat scraper for stirring. And be willing to offer paying a bit extra for this service - especially if the BO will drain and rinse your beet pulp.
Another detail - many barns in my area employ workers who do not speak English well. A clear way to show how to mix the supplement would be to pack a large "baggie" with the beet pulp and/or hay pellets, put your supplement in a smaller baggie - then put the smaller bag inside the larger bag. Put this into your mixing/feeding bucket along with the "stirrer" (metal sweat scraper or a large stirring spoon) and water measure cup. They will get the "picture" and the supplements won't get left sitting on the side. You can mark each large bag with the day of the week in the workers' base language. A table of days of the week in many languages can be found in Wikipedia. If you split feedings, make sure the bags are also marked morning/night - and you might add a sun/moon. Don't expect the barn owner or workers to measure or scoop.

There's no reason not to dump beet pulp shreds and/or hay pellets and supplement together into the mixing/feeding bucket, pour the water on top (from your measure cup or to a wave-like line on the bucket marked "water" or "agua" or "H2O"), stir and feed. (This could also be done with beet pulp pellets if enough time is given to soak - but would be better if the supplement were stirred in after soaking.)

Do check that your horse is eating his feed; if the barn staff cleans feeders regularly you might not see left over feed, likewise if another horse has access to the feeder. If you find feed left over, try using more/less water or add herbs or other "taste tempters". See Witcheylady Potions for flavor ideas.

Beet pulp is not “necessary” but is a low sugar/low starch alternative to bagged feeds and grain or can be used as a substitute for some of the hay ration (especially if you need to replace some high sugar/starch hay) and is well accepted by most horses. It doesn’t take long to get into a routine and the benefits usually outweigh any inconvenience. If beet pulp is not available, you can use plain hay pellets (I like the Mountain Sunrise Timothy or Bermuda pellets, or Timothy/Alfalfa pellets for hard keepers) as a carrier for your supplements.

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