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Important Topics




Feeding the Halter Futurity Prospect

O'kay, so you have your halter baby almost ready to go, except he/she is suddenly developing "shaky knees" (contracted tendons, knuckling over), boggy hocks (possible OCD), or physitis (inflammation of the growth plates - ankle or knee swelling).  Well, TDI's veterinary advisor, Jack Woolsey, DVM, of Santa Rosa, CA puts it very bluntly.  Jack says,




You may miss a futurity or two, but you're going to anyway.


Through TDI's "Nutrition Hotline", a number of calls are received concerning weanlings and yearlings with Developmental Orthopedic Disease problems, a large number of which involve "fitting" futurity prospects.   Routinely, these young horses are experiencing one or more of four feeding and management problems.


  1. Overfeeding:  Locked in a stall 23+ hours per day, receiving large quantities of grain.

  2. Lack of Exercise:  20 minutes per day in a roundpen/treadmill compared to free choice exercise turned out.

  3. Lack of Hay:  Fear of developing hay-belly resulting in limited quantities of roughage being fed.

  4. Tack Room Chemistry:  Wild claims by dozens of supplement companies resulting in horses receiving a number of supplements on top of an already fortified ration.




As a general guideline, a growing horse that will mature at 1000 - 1100 pounds should receive a maximum of one pound per month of age, plus one pound, per day of grain ration (example, a five month old weanling should get six pounds maximum), until a maximum of 10 pounds per day is reached.  Very few horses that are not in heavy training should receive more than 10 - 12 pounds per day of grain concentrate.



If a growing horse is going to receive large quantities of grain, it must have access to plenty of exercise.  Bones, tendons, muscles and ligaments must be strengthened through vigorous exercise.  The ideal situation is a group of young horses turned out in a run-in shed situation with plenty of room to run.  Yes, you'll get bumps, bites, and nicks, but you'll end up with a horse that is more likely to be sound and healthy, both physically and mentally.




Good quality hay does not cause hay-belly - poor quality hay may result in distended gut.  Horses should be offered 1 1/2 to 2% of their body weight in good quality hay per day (a 500 lb. weanling should get 7 1/2 to 10 lbs. per day, a 1000 lb. horse 15 - 20 lbs.).


Hay keeps the digestive tract functioning properly, resulting in fewer colics and digestive disturbances.  Horses are "designed" to accommodate plenty of long-stem roughage, ideally available at all times or at least at frequent intervals.  Horses that do not get enough roughage may develop vices such as wood chewing, weaving, cribbing, eating dirt, and are more prone to colic.  remember, good quality hay does not cause hay-belly.  Poor quality hay is usually the culprit.


If you are unable to obtain good quality hay, please call 1-800-457-7577 for suggestions.



Wild claims and high prices somehow appeal to otherwise intelligent people when it involves their horses.  Please keep in mind:


If it sounds too good to be true


it probably is!


Always ask what independent research supports the claims.  What legitimate research has been published?  Who performed the research, and who formulated the product?  What are their qualifications in nutrition or physiology?   Why is it so expensive?


If you are feeding a quality ration formulated and produced by a reputable company, you should not need additional supplements.  Good rules to follow are don't mix fortified commercial rations or supplements, and don't mix fortified commercial rations with oats or other grains unless the feeding instructions permit it.


TDI has a program to help "Fix'em", if the problem is nutritionally caused or a management problem.  Genetics and environment play major roles in many developmental problems of growing horses.  For those nutritionally related, the TDI program is used and recommended by veterinarians nationwide and is simple, inexpensive, and often effective.


For a copy, call the TDI Nutrition Hotline at 1-800-457-7577.  We don't make wild claims, and we don't "Fix'em" all, but sound nutrition and management can help many horses.



Can You Buy A Cheaper Feed?.


SURE, but . . . . .




A.-- High Moisture (Cheaper) Corn.

A number of horses in North Carolina died from moldy corn poisoning, linked to Fusarium (mold) in high moisture grains, especially from corn.  Fusarium does not live in corn which is less than 15% moisture.  TDI uses only low moisture corn.

B.-- Low Grade Oats.

28 to 32 lb. oats are used by many horse feeds.  They contain up to 19% fiber, compared to 10% fiber in 36 to 40 lb. oats (used in TDI).  The cheap feed should cost almost 10% less from cheap oats alone.

C.-- Use of Fillers.

Look at the cheap feed's guaranteed analysis (better still, have it checked by a lab).  If it is 12% fiber, compared to TDI's 6%, it should cost 6% less from fiber alone, TDI uses no fillers.

D.-- Low Quality Protein Sources.

. . . such as linseed meal, cottonseed meal, alfalfa meal, all of which are cheaper than soybean meal, which is more highly utilized by the horse, plus higher in protein.  (You could grind up your leather belt and have a high protein "ration" for a horse, but how much good would it do him?) TDI uses only soybean meal.


Most feed manufacturers use "least cost formulation" meaning that if milo is cheaper than corn this week, they put  milo in, etc.  The same goes with protein sources (linseed versus soybean meal).

Look at the feed tag.  Does it say things like "processed grains, plant products" etc.?  If so, they are least costing.

At TDI, we don't least cost.  Horses don't like frequent ration changes and will go off feed.  And, they can't get the protein out of linseed meal, for example, that they can get out of soybean meal.  

At TDI, we're PROUD of what we put in the product, and we tell you exactly what ingredients are in there, every  bag, every time, always the same.


A.-- Low in Copper

TDI presently fortifies with 50 PPM copper.  Many others have less, or none.  Copper deficiencies can cause Developmental Orthopedic Disease such as physitis, contracted tendons, and OCD.

B.-- No Selenium

TDI fortifies to the maximum permitted by the F.D.A.


TDI-16 provides .8% calcium and .7% phosphorus, needed for proper bone development.  Calcium/phosphorus deficiencies/imbalances are probably the most common cause of physitis.

D.-- Low or No Fortification of More Expensive Vitamins and Minerals, such as Vitamin E

At TDI, we don't ask how much a vitamin or mineral costs . . . . we ask how much a horse needs.  Check our vitamin E levels (the expensive one) against other rations, for example.  And we don't put more of a cheap vitamin in just to make the label look like it's better.


TDI feeds are supplemented with soy oil, a high quality fat source, which supplies more energy.  Soy oil is expensive, but studies show added fat increases endurance and energy.

Poor Processing


Obviously, it costs less to use whole grains than rolled grains or pelleted rations.  It costs more to pellet TDI, but pelleted feeds are more digestible to the horse.  What you feed doesn't end up unused in the manure pile.


SO . . . SURE you can buy a cheaper feed than


TDI®, BUT . . . . . . .




  • Lose just one horse to moldy corn.

  • Have just one colt develop physitis or contracted tendons from mineral imbalance or deficiency.

  • Feed 1/4 to 1/3 more feed because it used low quality ingredients or is poorly processed.

  • Have just one mare not conceive or abort due to mineral deficiencies.


  • TDI® may cost more per bag or per ton, but TDI®




Read Your Feed Tag


Reading the Feed Tag!


Some feed manufacturers when facing rising ingredient costs, utilize least cost formulations.  For example, if corn prices rise, barley or milo may be substituted.  Linseed meal, alfalfa meal, or cottonseed meal may be substituted for soybean meal.

There are two schools of thought about formulating equine rations, we at TDI have chosen not to least cost formulate.  We feel it is important to keep the horse's ration the same, (not constantly  changing) as changing may cause a horse to back off feed or suffer digestive disturbances.

Also, it is generally accepted by equine nutritionists that soybean meal, for example, is a more utilizable and digestible source of protein for growing horses than linseed, cottonseed, or alfalfa meal.

You can tell if the feed you are buying is formulated on a least cost formulation by reading the tag.  If it uses terms for ingredients such as "grain products, processed grain, grain by-products", etc., rather than "corn, oats, soybean meal", etc., beware the ration is probably least cost formulated.  As a result, this leaves the buyer unaware of exactly what they are purchasing.



Most states require labeling (feed tags) of all manufactured feeds.   The label is under the control of feed officials who sample feeds and run analyses to see that whatever the label carries is really included in the feed.  Most states require minimum protein, minimum fat, and maximum fiber to be listed on the tag.   Unfortunately as a result this is often all that is guaranteed on the tag.



Protein is one of the more expensive components of a feed, yet it is critical for growth, lactation, and muscle recovery and development.  The chemical analysis simply gives information about the total amount of protein but does not account for the digestibility of amino acid composition.  As an example, corn gluten meal has low digestibility for horses as well as a poor assortment of amino acids, indicating this source of protein would not be good for young, growing horses.  Linseed meal has been widely used by the horse industry, but it is usually quite high in indigestible fiber, and the protein is of relatively low quality.  The best source of protein in digestibility and quality is generally considered to be soybean meal.  Thus it is important to understand that it is not just how much protein is in the feed, but what source of protein is being used.



The method of determining fat in feed is by ether extraction.  Thus, anything that is soluble in ether is considered fat.

Fat is responsible for endurance.  Recent university studies have shown that the addition of fat in commercial rations is a readily available, excellent source of energy for horses.  Fat supplemented equine rations reduce the bulk and the amount of daily grain intake thus reducing the likelihood of complications from excessive grain intake.  Several equine studies have also shown improvement in performance following fat supplementation of the diet.



Unless a commercial ration is designed to be a hay replacer, fiber is usually considered undesirable because it is composed of the woody portion of the plant and is poorly digested.  Most horses obtain ample amounts of fiber from the forages they consume.  In general, the lower the quality of grain, the higher the fiber.   The lighter the oats, the lower the digestibility.  Oat hulls are very difficult to break down.  We want to see the fiber portion of the grain ration as low as possible and provide the fiber needed through the hay portion of the horse's ration.



More feed manufacturers are now guaranteeing levels of vitamins and minerals, and many states are now requiring more disclosure on the feed tag.  We at TDI believe you as a consumer have the right to know what you are buying, and therefore TDI feed tags and product literature list levels of supplemental vitamins and minerals.

You should carefully compare vitamins and mineral levels, as some commercial products provide only token amounts to be able to include the nutrient on the tag.  Often, the expensive nutrients (such as vitamin E and supplemental fat) are not provided in adequate levels.

It is often difficult to compare one product to another because some guarantees are in percentages, others in grams or ounces, milligrams or parts

per million.   TDI has a conversion chart "Compare Apples to Apples" we will be happy to send you upon request. 

Call 1-800-457-7577 or e-mail us.

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