Tag Archive for: feedxl tip

How to Know if You Are Underfeeding or Overfeeding Your Horse (& What to Do About It)

Let’s take a look at two common mistakes horse owners make:

Underfeeding, which can lead to health and performance issues because certain nutrients are not being met.

And,

Overfeeding, where you are supplying more than you need of multiple nutrients. At best, overfeeding is a WASTE OF MONEY! At worst, it will cause nutrient toxicity and can make your horse very sick!

Underfeeding

One of the most important reasons you use a tool like FeedXL is to identify and correct nutrient deficiencies in the diet that result from ‘underfeeding’.

Common mineral deficiencies include copper, zinc, selenium and iodine while common vitamin deficiencies include vitamin E and vitamin B1.

These deficiencies can have pretty dramatic long-term consequences for your horse including slow wound repair, gastrointestinal damage, poor immune response, hooves and joints that fall apart, muscle damage, especially during exercise, poor behaviour, muscle wastage and weight loss.

If the deficiencies are severe, diseases like severe neuromuscular disorders can occur.

It’s REALLY important to meet your horse’s needs for all of these nutrients! So we are really glad you are here.

Your first task with FeedXL should be to assess your horse’s current diet.

To do this, simply enter you horse with as accurate information as possible.

Once your horse is entered, choose or enter your pasture or free choice hay (and if you get stuck at this step be sure to jump on live chat and ask us for help!).

Then, enter your horse’s feeds and supplements as accurately as possible… we highly recommend grabbing yourself a small set of scales to weigh any feeds and supplements. Plus a set of luggage scales to weigh your hay!

Next, you go to the results page and here you will see which of your horse’s requirements are met and which are not!

And at this point it is interesting to ponder whether any issues you may have been having with your horse are due to any of the deficiencies you may have found.

You might also like to head over to our FeedXL Horse Nutrition Facebook Group and discuss what you found with your fellow members!

If You Are Underfeeding…

First, if you are underfeeding, you can try increasing the amounts of the feeds or supplements you are already using in the diet. If you increase them, does this fill all the gaps in your horse’s diet?

(Just keep in mind if you increase a feed too much you may just make your horse fat, which means this isn’t a good option… what works in this situation? It’s best to add a supplement or balancer pellet). And you can also watch here as I go through a diet for ‘Ash’ that uses two feeds and yet requirements are still not met.

It is so worth the effort to find these deficiencies in your horse’s diet because they could explain a lot about your horse’s health, appearance and behaviour!

Next, let’s look at overfeeding…

Overfeeding

Overfeeding is where you are supplying more than you need of multiple nutrients.

It usually happens when you add supplements on top of feeds on top of supplements! It’s how we feed when we are ‘unsure’ if we are giving our horses everything they need!

At best, overfeeding is a WASTE OF MONEY!

At worst, it will cause nutrient toxicity and can make your horse very sick!

How to Spot Nutrient Excesses

So in the same process as we went through yesterday, if you haven’t already, enter your horse’s current diet and look for any nutrient excesses. (Log in here or sign up if you’re not yet a member).

Are you feeding well above what your horse needs for some nutrients, are there any nutrient toxicities, could you reduce some of the feed or supplement amounts to reduce these excesses?

If you are not sure where it is best to have some nutrient levels and what is ‘normal’ (because you will never get a diet where everything sits at 100%), I highly recommend reading this article: ‘Do you need to get every nutrient to 100% on the FeedXL graph?‘.

And you can watch here as I am able to completely remove one supplement and reduce another by 25% in ‘Smarty’s’ diet.

One of the most common pieces of feedback we get from our members centres around saving money by not overfeeding.

If you are overfeeding…

If you are overfeeding, try reducing the amount of the feeds and/or supplements in the diet. If you decrease them, can you bring the levels of nutrients down to where they should be (and again if you’re not sure, refer to ‘Do you need to get every nutrient to 100% on the FeedXL graph?‘) WITHOUT creating any nutrient deficiencies.

If neither of those options work, you can try a couple of things.

You could add another feed or supplement on top of the ones you already have to fill in the gaps.

In some cases this is a good option. For example, your diet may be a little low on vitamin E… it is very easy to just add a vitamin E supplement (you can find these in the blue ‘Balancers and Supplements’ tab under ‘Antioxidants’).

But in a lot of cases adding a second feed or supplement may not be the best option.

For example if you are already using a vitamin & mineral supplement but still have deficiencies in the diet, it is a waste of money using this ‘unbalanced supplement’ and fixing it with still more supplements.

If this is your situation, I would suggest taking the unbalanced supplement OUT of the diet and completely and replacing it with a more balanced one, so that you can use one product.

It’s just a matter of finding the perfect supplement to balance your horse’s diet!

How to Find Supplements To Fix a Diet

By far the easiest way to do this is by using our ‘Find Supplements to Fix this Diet’ button. When you click this button, FeedXL will sort through EVERY ONE of the thousands of supplements in its database and find the best ones to fit your horse’s diet.

Check out how the supplement finder works here.

It is so worth doing the work on your horse’s diet, because you can improve your horse’s health, appearance and performance PLUS save yourself some money.

Go spend some time seeing if you can reduce or even remove some products from your horse’s diet and still keep it balanced!

Note: If you are still on the BASIC plan in FeedXL you will discover that this feature is not available on our Basic plan… so, you can either upgrade for access to the supplement finder (definitely your best option as these tools supercharge how useful and easy to use FeedXL is!)

OR you can head over to our FeedXL Horse Nutrition Facebook Group and ask your fellow members for recommendations for supplements are that have balanced diets similar to yours.

Be sure to give them some basic details of your horse and diet (screen shots from FeedXL work well) AND also your location in the world so the recommendations are relevant 😊

How to Find Feeds to Fix a Diet

If you are using a feed that is not balanced the same process applies, you can use the ‘Find Feeds to Fix this Diet’ button (check it out here) OR you can ask for recommendations from your fellow members!

And remember if you are really stuck we are here to help! For quick questions you can catch us via email (support@feedxl.com) or live chat (look for the icon in the bottom right of FeedXL when you are logged in).

Need Extra Help?

If you’d like more detailed help, you can book a one-on-one consult with one of our team of nutritionists!

This may sound and feel a bit overwhelming, but just take your time, ask us lots of questions when you need to and lean on your fellow members and we will have you balancing diets superfast in no time!!

Do you have a question or comment? Do you need help with feeding?

We would love to welcome you to our FeedXL Horse Nutrition Facebook Group. Ask questions and have them answered by PhD and Masters qualified equine nutritionists and spend time with like-minded horse owners. It’s free!

Click here to join the FeedXL Horse Nutrition Facebook Group

Why Forage Is the Most Important Part of Your Horse’s Diet

Forage is the Single. Most. Important component of your horse’s diet… for a whole bunch of reasons!

  1. It is your horse’s biggest source of calories, protein and some vitamins and minerals.
  2. It keeps your horse’s gut full and less prone to colic.
  3. It encourages saliva production during chewing and keeps the stomach full to dramatically reduce the risk of gastric ulcers.
  4. It feeds your horse’s good bacteria which then produce vitamins and hormones that keep your horse calm, healthy and happy plus they keep the immune system functioning properly!
  5. It holds onto water in the gut and provides a rich source of electrolytes to keep your horse properly hydrated.
  6. AND – perhaps one of the most important functions of forage – it keeps your horse chewing, head down and content!

So it’s REALLY important to have ENOUGH forage in your horse’s diet and it’s also a wonderful idea to have a VARIETY of forage in the diet.

In FeedXL, you will be warned if your horse’s diet does not contain enough forage!

Here’s what that will look like:

So be sure to meet the minimum daily forage requirement!

Then my very best advice is, don’t stop there!

Don’t JUST meet the minimum forage requirement!

The more forage you can get into your horse’s diet, the better!

So here is a tip… in FeedXL, enter all of your horse’s forages, pasture, hay, chaff, forage cubes or pellets, haylage… anything that is considered forage!

Then go to the results and look at your horse’s ‘Total Daily Feed Intake’ amounts. Is it at 100%? Or is it less than 100%?

If it is at 100% or above (extra stars for above!), look at your horse’s nutrient graph, looking specifically at the Digestible energy level. Is it between 90 and 100%?

If it is, and ALL you have in the diet is FORAGE this means forage can be used to meet 100% of your horse’s daily Digestible Energy (calorie) requirements and you are unlikely to need a feed!

(You will however still need to add a supplement to top up mineral and some vitamin levels and may need to add some high quality protein – more on this here.)

A High forage diet is best for gut and overall health

This high forage diet, especially if it contains a variety of forage, is the closest diet you can get to a horse’s natural diet and will be the best in terms of gut and overall health for them!

If your horse’s energy is too low (less than 90% OR your horse is currently losing weight on an all forage diet) then you will need to add some higher energy ingredients to the diet. But keep in mind that you still want to keep as much forage in the diet as you possibly can!

Some suggestions for higher energy ingredients include sugarbeet pulp, copra meal, lupins, lupin hulls, higher energy forages like alfalfa/lucerne, oils and if they are safe for your horse, oats or other cereals (like corn/maize or barley) AS LONG AS THE GRAINS ARE COOKED!

The trick is to add as little of these ingredients as possible in FeedXL to meet that digestible energy requirement so you keep as much of your forage in the diet as possible!

So keep adding small amounts of your chosen high energy ingredients and keep checking your results to see when you have added enough energy.

And here is a little heads up to save you getting confused…

If your horse is on free choice pasture or hay you will notice that as you add a new ingredient your horse’s pasture or free choice hay intake will go down as you ad other ingredients.

For example if your horse’s free choice forage intake is 10 kg/day…

And then you add 0.5 kg/day of oats, free choice forage will go down to 9.5 kg/day…

Why?

Because your horse only has so much room in its gut for feed each day. So as you increase in this example, oats in the diet, your free choice forage intake is reduced proportionally.

Really hope that all helps! If you remember lots of forage PLUS a variety of forage your horse is going to be so far ahead in term of health and nutrition!

If you have read this far, kudos to you!

Big thanks for being here and remember if you have questions, just ask!

DO YOU HAVE A QUESTION OR COMMENT? DO YOU NEED HELP WITH FEEDING?

We would love to welcome you to our FeedXL Horse Nutrition Facebook Group. Ask questions and have them answered by PhD and Masters qualified equine nutritionists and spend time with like-minded horse owners. It’s free!

Click here to join the FeedXL Horse Nutrition Facebook Group

 

Choosing a Quality Electrolyte for Your Horse

I don’t know if you have noticed, but there are LOTS of different electrolyte supplements on the market! Pastes, powders, liquids – and they are all so different… making it really hard to know which ones are best.

The job of an electrolyte supplement is to replace the electrolytes lost in your horse’s sweat… namely sodium, chloride and potassium (the three major ones) as well as magnesium and calcium.

Quick Tip: Forages are usually high in potassium. So when your horse is being fed a forage based diet, there is normally plenty of potassium in the diet to meet requirements during normal training periods. Which means the two main electrolytes your horse needs added to the diet are sodium and chloride. And together, these electrolytes are ordinary table salt… so topping up electrolytes is often as simple and inexpensive as adding salt to your horse’s diet!


For an electrolyte to do a good job of replacing the electrolyte minerals your horse loses when sweating, it should be at least 80% ‘salts’ and 20% or less glucose or other base or filler.

Specifically, these high quality products should be 20 – 25% sodium, 43 – 48% chloride, 10 – 12% potassium and also have smaller amounts of magnesium and calcium (normally 1 to 2%).

If you put one of these high quality products into FeedXL, for a 450 kg (990 lb) horse in very heavy work, at a dose of 60 grams per day, this is how it should look (with JUST it in the diet):

High Quality Electrolyte

This product is 22.5% sodium, 45.1% chloride, 12.1% potassium, 1% magnesium and 1.5% calcium.

To give you a comparison, here is another product, also added in FeedXL at a 60 gram dose for a 450 kg (990 lb) horse in Very Heavy Work … look how much less mineral you are getting at the same dose rate!

Low Quality Electrolyte

If the mineral levels are much lower like this, you’re probably paying a lot for a lot of filler and it might be time to consider a new supplement!

It can be a little tricky to read labels because everyone presents their label information a little differently (just to keep us on our toes!)… so if you want to check how good your electrolyte is, create a diet in FeedXL like this, for a 450 kg (990 lb) horse in Very Heavy Work, add 60 grams of your chosen electrolyte and see how it compares to these ones… the one at the top being good, the one at the bottom being a waste of money!

We hope that helps you to find the best electrolyte supplements! If you haven’t yet got started with FeedXL you can join us here.

P.S. Be really careful not to overfeed salt and electrolytes because they will make your horse’s feed taste yuk and your horse will stop eating. If your horse is not eating well, try reducing or even for a short period removing any salt or electrolyte from the feed and see if this helps. For more on keeping your horse eating, you can head this post.

 

Do you have a question or comment? Do you need help with feeding?

We would love to welcome you to our FeedXL Horse Nutrition Facebook Group. Ask questions and have them answered by PhD and Masters qualified equine nutritionists and spend time with like-minded horse owners. It’s free!

Click here to join the FeedXL Horse Nutrition Facebook Group

Domino and Delingr’s First (Almost) Balanced Diets

OK, time to get serious looking at these diets for these malnourished yearlings!

We are almost 4 weeks into the journey with Domino and Delingr, and so far my main priorities re diet have been:

  1. Get them used to being hand fed. Even hay seemed foreign to them in the first few days.
  2. Get them eating plenty of lucerne (Alfalfa). I figured having never been wormed (I know, shocking!) and having not shed her winter coat, Delingr (little brown) was so protein deficient that she couldn’t even grow her summer coat! Lucerne was one way to get a lot of protein into her without shocking her gut or the rest of her body too much!
  3. Introduce their gut to grain based ‘hard feed’. Having never been fed, starch I wanted to take a very slow/cautious approach to adding grains to their diet. I started with about 200 grams per day each, divided and fed in two meals per day and built this up super slowly over 3 weeks to close to 1 kg per meal now. The grains are (ofcourse!) well cooked and as per my PhD research I am adding enzymes to assist with starch digestion so I can be as certain as possible that the starch is all being digested in their small intestine and not ending up in their hindgut!
  4. Get them wormed!! We had to wait until we could actually handle them before we could worm them, and judging by the number of worms (small strongyles) in their manure post worming (photo below), they were carrying a heavy worm burden! Any wonder they looked the way they did!

My next priority is to get the diets properly balanced! I haven’t been too worried about that up until this point. Let’s face it, ANY nutrition was going to be better than what they were getting and I had a lot of groundwork to lay in terms of getting them eating, adapting their gut and getting rid of the intestinal worms!

Their Pasture Only Diet Wasn’t Great!

To give me an idea of where they were at I ran their diets with my best estimate of what they were getting at their previous home. It’s more a case of what they were not getting… using FeedXL, I entered Delingr as a 12 month old filly, weighing 250 kg (my best estimate) eating a native pasture only diet set to ‘good quality’ because the season has been a good one and the grasses in the area are typically green at this time of year (spring) when it is wet!

Here is how her diet looked in FeedXL… as expected digestible energy was low, protein requirement may have just been met, but with energy being so low she would have been chewing up a lot of her protein to use for energy! Hence creating herself a protein deficiency. AND lysine is low, indicating poor quality protein (which sort of means that crude protein level is meaningless as she was critically short of the most essential amino acid, lysine). PLUS with the worms sucking the life out of her she would have had a higher requirement for protein!

Minerals were also very low which would have been affecting her ability to actually grow because she simply doesn’t have the building materials to create bone!… one really interesting question is how this malnutrition will affect her later in life?! I’m not sure on the answer to that, but two previous horses of mine that had less than ideal starts to life did end up with severe arthritis later in life, from age 20+ so it’s possible this is how this may end up. But they may have also been genetics or coincidence so for me it will be a case of (long) wait and see!

What Their New Diet ‘Looks’ Like

My priority now is to get energy and protein levels up and to meet those mineral requirements!

Here is how I am doing it:

Their diet is now 2 kg/day of an extruded grain + soybean based breeding feed, plus 2 kg/day of lucerne (alfalfa hay) and 500 g/day lucerne (alfalfa) chaff. Plus some full fat soybean because there is a LOT of muscle and bone growth that needs to happen!

The only supplement they are getting is a gut supplement, predominantly there to provide starch digesting enzymes. And I will soon give them access to free choice salt! For now I am just putting a small (10 g/day) amount of salt in their daily feeds because I figure they would never have had access to salt before and will potentially be quite salt hungry.

Plus they have 24/7 access to abundant pasture which is a real mix of grasses, here is how I have it entered into FeedXL:

And here is how the new diet looks:

It doesn’t take a nutrition expert to see this is a LOT BETTER than what Delingr was receiving, and her condition tells the story already with the top photo here taken on the 22nd October 2021 and the bottom one 3 weeks later on the 12th November 2021. The bottom photo was also only 2 days after she was wormed and I hadn’t yet built her fully up to this new diet. I expect in the next month we will see MASSIVE change!

What’s Next?

I’m not 100% happy with this diet yet… the energy could be higher as I want to push the envelope with her a bit and get some significant growth happening while she is still young enough to really grow (she must be a long way behind where she should be!). And the Calcium to phosphorus ratio is not ideal, sitting just above 3: 1 (for growing horses it should be below 3: 1).

I hesitate to change anything just at the moment because they have had so much change in the last month, so I’m just going to let myself be OK with where this diet is at and I will reassess in a couple of weeks to see how I can increase the energy and phosphorus (or decrease the calcium) without increasing the total amount of grain!

I was looking at her this afternoon when I was feeding them and she has improved again on the photo above. Her coat is genuinely shiny now and she is much brighter in her eye! Domino is also looking a lot better, her hips don’t poke out anymore and she is definitely feeling better… I’ll have two high energy yearlings on my hands before I know it!! And then I’ll REALLY be asking myself whatever was I thinking!! 😂

Will keep you posted!

DO YOU HAVE A QUESTION OR COMMENT? DO YOU NEED HELP WITH FEEDING?

We would love to welcome you to our FeedXL Horse Nutrition Facebook Group. Ask questions and have them answered by PhD and Masters qualified equine nutritionists and spend time with like-minded horse owners. It’s free!

Click here to join the FeedXL Horse Nutrition Facebook

Photo of Nerida standing with her horse at sunset

Be Part of the Change to Feeding Horses Better. Safer. Smarter. (The FeedXL Backstory)

FeedXL officially started out almost 2 decades ago as CD-ROM based software. But truth is, FeedXL has been somewhere in the works since I was a kid, growing up on a cattle farm in rural NSW, Australia.

As a child, the only place I ever wanted to be was with my horses. I still remember heading off to Uni and being so sad I wouldn’t see my favourite mare for weeks on end!

BUT, at Uni I also had the amazing opportunity to take on a PhD in equine nutrition. Once finished, I started consulting to feed companies and very quickly realised this problem… that horse owners had no way of ACTUALLY knowing if what they were feeding their horse was meeting that horse’s requirements.
So we built one! And it has slowly morphed into what we know as FeedXL.

Today, FeedXL has helped more than 26,000 horse owners to feed Better. Safer. Smarter.

Here is FeedXL’s story, filmed (during the worst drought in history) with Poet, Popcorn, PomPom and Chewy the dog at FeedXL headquarters in Tamworth, Australia.




 

FeedXL is truly a labour of love for me. And I feel so much gratitude to you, and all of our members for being a part of the change that really is all about feeding horses in a way that makes life better for them!

Thanks for sharing the journey. I hope you enjoy seeing how it all started!

Xx
Nerida

DO YOU HAVE A QUESTION OR COMMENT? DO YOU NEED HELP WITH FEEDING?

We would love to welcome you to our FeedXL Horse Nutrition Facebook Group. Ask questions and have them answered by PhD and Masters qualified equine nutritionists and spend time with like-minded horse owners. It’s free!

Click here to join the FeedXL Horse Nutrition Facebook Group

Horse standing in field

Are You Feeding Your Horse Unnecessary Supplements?

One of the pitfalls of feeding your horses without actually calculating what you are feeding is paranoia that maybe your horse isn’t getting enough of the most important nutrients. That maybe he is missing something and this is going to cause problems, or make him sick!

As a horse owner I am sure you experience this feeling of ‘maybe I should just add a little bit more…’ or ‘maybe I should add that supplement I was told about because it sounds important, I meet those requirements…’ or ‘I’ll just add this, and this (and this) and even this just to be sure I am covering everything!..’.

Problem is, feeding like that still doesn’t ensure you actually meet requirements. AND it is So. Very. Expensive!

Which is where FeedXL comes in… when you can feed with certainty because you know what you are feeding is meeting requirements you no longer need to add extras as a ‘just in case insurance’. With FeedXL you can see which requirements are met, and which may not be and adjust your diet accordingly.

This diet, for a mare named Smarty is the perfect example of this. Smarty’s owner has done a great job of putting together a diet that meet’s all of her requirements, but watch as I am able to completely remove one supplement PLUS reduce another supplement by 25%. Meaning every 4 days now she gets essentially a FREE dose… or put another way her supplement bucket will last 25% longer and cost her 25% less!

 

 

Do you have a question or comment? Do you need help with feeding?

We would love to welcome you to our FeedXL Horse Nutrition Facebook Group. Ask questions and have them answered by PhD and Masters qualified equine nutritionists and spend time with like-minded horse owners. It’s free!

Click here to join the FeedXL Horse Nutrition Facebook Group

Two Feeds, and Yet Requirements Are Still Not Met…

You have spent time researching feeds and found 2 you really like. You have carefully monitored your horse’s body condition and are only feeding enough of these feeds to maintain good bodyweight. You are feeding a largely forage based diet.

You are doing everything right!.. Except.

The small amount of feed being fed is not enough to cover your horse’s vitamin and mineral requirements… which will eventually result in hoof, joint, performance, immune function and general health issues! Problem is, you won’t see that until something big happens.

This is the problem with vitamin and mineral deficiencies. You can’t see them until all of a sudden the really blow up in your face! Hooves fall apart. Joints break down. The immune system becomes so compromised that it can’t mount an effective immune response to a simple disease challenge. Performance suffers. Infertility shows up.

Watch as I walk through Ash’s diet here. Ash has a lovely diet. Except… it doesn’t meet requirements. So we switch out two feeds for one balancer pellet. And now we meet all requirements with less feed!

 

 

Do you have a question or comment? Do you need help with feeding?

We would love to welcome you to our FeedXL Horse Nutrition Facebook Group. Ask questions and have them answered by PhD and Masters qualified equine nutritionists and spend time with like-minded horse owners. It’s free!

Click here to join the FeedXL Horse Nutrition Facebook Group

Horse feeding on the meadow

What to Do When a Hay Only Diet Is Not Enough for Your Horse

Forage based diets are THE best! There are so many reasons why, if you can, you should feed diets that are close to 100% forage. BUT, forage only is not enough. 95% + of the forages I see analysed don’t contain enough of one to several minerals to meet a horse’s requirement.

Plus for horses in heavy work, lactating mares and young, growing horses forages often do not contain enough calories or protein to properly meet requirements.

And this is exactly what is happening here. Watch as I run through an 18-month-old filly’s diet. Her owner plans to feed a variety of hays, which is PERFECT! But the hay alone is not able to support correct growth and development.

We use FeedXL to have a look at a couple of feed options that will fill in all the diet gaps left by the hay!

Simple, just one feed.

Cost-effective, it’s not multiple feeds and supplements.

Balanced, with the right nutrition the filly will grow and develop correctly, hopefully with bones and joints that remain sound for her lifetime!

 

 

Do you have a question or comment? Do you need help with feeding?

We would love to welcome you to our FeedXL Horse Nutrition Facebook Group. Ask questions and have them answered by PhD and Masters qualified equine nutritionists and spend time with like-minded horse owners. It’s free!

Click here to join the FeedXL Horse Nutrition Facebook Group

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