In December 2007, we looked at top-dressing mineral and vitamin supplements for horses. These are products that are concentrated and added in small amounts to the feed. (If you missed that issue, you can get it by calling 800-424-7887 or at www.horse-journal.com.)
In this article we’re going to focus on the proper use of vitamin and mineral supplements that also include protein. These are palatable as a rule, so the lower-protein products are a good choice if you have a picky eater who objects to a concentrated multivitamin-mineral powdered supplement. The higher-protein products can fill protein gaps in the diet.
Who Needs One'
If your horse is receiving good-quality hay and at least the minimum recommended feeding of a well-fortified commercial grain, you likely don’t need to feed one of these supplements.
There may well be mineral imbalances in your diet, depending on the composition of your hay, but you can’t fix that by adding a balanced mineral supplement. The hay imbalances will remain, and you just end up overloading your horse with a lot of unneeded nutrients. Mineral imbalances have to be fixed by targeting the specific nutrients that are out of whack.
Horses receiving little-to-no grain and hay only (no pasture) are most likely to have protein deficits, although probably not as much as you imagine. If you don’t know the protein content of your hay and want to use a combination protein/multi supplement, these products will provide you with a comfortable margin for protein. Protein is the most expensive ingredient in the horse’s diet. It’s extremely important for health and bloom, but it’s an inefficient way to supply calories for energy, and more is not better.
Growing horses, pregnant and lactating mares need more protein and minerals than what is provided by a basic mature-horse diet. Their needs for increased protein and minerals is proportionately more than their increased calorie requirements so supplements in this category are ideal for that group.
We used a mature horse in light-to-moderate work as our model and the same comments regarding the most crucial vitamins and minerals as in the first article in this series.
Supplements included in our chart are those available for order online, on a nationwide basis in feed stores, or those that are readily available over several states of a region.
You may well have local feed companies in your area that also provide this type of protein-mineral-vitamin supplement. If that’s the case, you can use the information under corresponding label levels to see how your locally available product measures up for nutrient levels and price.
The prices given in our chart on supplements available nationwide may vary considerably by region. Your mill price will be influenced by how far away your local supplier is from the production plant. Conversely, online pricing of supplements may actually be lower than your local store due to price breaks on shipping large quantities. It pays to shop around.
Our overall choice for highest mineral levels, best balance, best individual amino acid guarantees is Triple Crown. If you don’t need all the extra protein, you can actually go as low as ?? pound per day and still meet essential minerals at our target of 50% of NRC (National Research Council) minimum recommendations. The Triple Crown products are an excellent choice for mares and growing horses.
The TDI line gets the nod as best buy, followed by Seminole Feeds Equalizer and Purina’s Born to Win.
If you really mainly need a protein supplement, and especially if you have a picky eater, the old-time favorite Calf-Manna is for you.
Insulin-resistant horses, especially Cushing’s horses, having trouble holding their weight might find EquiPride will fit into the feeding program. It has safe sugar and starch levels, an intelligent formulation and it focuses on supporting digestive processes.