Ask the Equine Nutritionist – Benefits of grass and legume hays

Ask the Equine Nutritionist – Benefits of grass and legume hays


DR. LYDIA GRAY:
Hey, SmartPak fans, welcome to a special
edition of Ask The Vet. You may notice I’m sitting
on this side, not that side. I’m Dr. Lydia Gray, the Staff
Veterinarian and Medical Director at SmartPak. This is Nerida Richards, PhD. I’m going to let you
introduce yourself. DR. NERIDA RICHARDS: Sure. Thanks, Lydia. So I’m Nerida. I’m an equine nutritionist from
Australia, which is probably quite obvious given my accent. DR. LYDIA GRAY: I was
going to say “far.” Obvious, true. DR. NERIDA RICHARDS:
I work as a consulting nutritionist in Australia. I formulate feeds
and supplements for companies all
over the world. And I also run the
FeedXL.com website, which is a nutrition calculator
that horse owners use to put their horses’ diets together. DR. LYDIA GRAY: Yeah, great. We asked you to submit your
horse nutrition questions specifically, and
in this segment we’ll answer one of
those questions– you’ll answer one of those questions. I’m helping– and then to
see the other questions just click on the playlist
at the end of the video and you get to see them all. So ready? “Can you touch base about
grass and legume type hays, what are the
benefits to the horse and their overall– in
terms of overall health. Is a certain mixture better or
preferred for certain horses, like” they list “pasture
pet, light work, moderate to heavy work,
hard keeper, easy keeper, et cetera.” And then she has some examples
of different types of hays. “Birdsfoot Trefoil,
orchard grass, timothy, Kentucky Bluegrass,
brome, and then one that I’m not
familiar with, so I’m hoping you’ll speak to it,
spring green felstulolium.” DR. NERIDA RICHARDS: I’m
not familiar with that one, but a grass species
as far as I know. But I’m not going to
talk about that one. I don’t know. But I think one of
the fundamentally most important things when you’re
putting a diet together for a horse is to get a
lot of variety in the diet. So I can sit and
formulate on paper a perfectly balanced
diet out of oats, timothy hay and a supplement. And it would look
like it’s meeting all of the requirements. DR. LYDIA GRAY: It
checks all the boxes. DR. NERIDA RICHARDS: It does. But they’re only the
boxes that we know about. So when we’re looking
at, say, amino acids, generally all we
look at is lysine. Because it’s the only one
that we haven’t established requirement for. And our thinking is that if
we make lysine requirements, then all the other amino acids
that are essential in the diet will be met. But they may not be with
a really limited number of ingredients. So there’s all these
nutrients that I call secondary nutrients,
so they’re essential. And even chlorophyll is one. The green stuff
in grass and hay. So we know they need
it in some amount. We just don’t know how much. And a lot of the times
we don’t even really know where they come from. So you, by putting
together a whole variety of grasses and legumes
and the trefoil, you’ve got a much
better chance of meeting all of those secondary
nutrients as well as all the primary
nutrients that we know about when you
feed it with a balancer pellet or a supplement. So ingredient variety is
really, really important. And then as far as
the mixes go, there’s generally optimum mixes
for different horses. DR. LYDIA GRAY: Like she
described, the pasture pet, the light work, the heavy work. DR. NERIDA RICHARDS:
So for pasture pets that’s really not doing very
much, and they’re mature and then protein
requirements are quite low, their calorie
requirements are low. So a mature grassy hey, maybe
with just a really small component of legume. So an alfalfa or a clover,
just to bring in the nutrient that they are reaching. So amino acids and calcium
that they’ll bring in. But you want to try and
keep the calorie and protein content reasonably low,
because otherwise they– DR. LYDIA GRAY: Because
the horse isn’t exercising. DR. NERIDA RICHARDS: They don’t,
and they don’t need very much. But then if you’re looking at
a say a weanling thoroughbred, and you are having
to feed them hay, I mean their protein
requirements are huge at that age, and
their calorie requirements are really high. So you would start to use blends
that have got more legume. You know, we use a lot of
alfalfa for growing horses. So you know the blend,
the optimum blend changes. Because all of a
sudden you’re not worried about maintaining
body condition or keeping body condition
off a mature horse, you’re more concerned
with are they getting enough calories
to grow at the rate we need them to grow. Are they getting enough protein
to build the muscles using a much higher quality, much
more nutrient dense blend of forages. And then your performance
horses are going to be somewhere in between. So their calorie
requirements are higher. DR. LYDIA GRAY: They’re
mature, they’re adults, so they’re not growing. But their exercise,
their workload. Yeah. DR. NERIDA RICHARDS:
You want them to be maintaining or building muscle. So again, some component– I’m a big fan of having both
grass and legume in your hay blend. So whether you– DR. LYDIA GRAY:
Because of the blend, the difference, the variety. DR. NERIDA RICHARDS: Just, yeah. And all these nutrients that
we don’t really understand. And bringing in
different proteins. We just analyzed some grasses
even for amino acids, so just two different species of grass. And the amino acid content in
them is dramatically different. They’re both grasses. But the amino acid content
is dramatically different. So just bringing in that
variety is really important. It’s a good question. DR. LYDIA GRAY: All right,
so if she’s doing it this way, if she does– if she is using a blend, then
she’s doing it the right way. DR. NERIDA RICHARDS: Absolutely. DR. LYDIA GRAY: All right.

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