I’m trying to find out the nutritional percent breakdown on a colt (6 months of age/quarter horse) for a daily feed basis. As to how much calcium etc should be in his daily diet. I did not want to put him on grains and supplements. He will be turned out to a Bermuda pasture, has a mineral block that he loves and salt block. Will this supply him with enough nutrients to grow healthy without adding bagged grains etc to his diet? Thanks! Allison
In order to find out what the requirements are for a particular age and size of horse—and his workload–my go-to resource is the NRC’s Nutrient Requirements of Horses. The sixth edition was published in 2007 and is available for purchase from the National Research Council.
A second option is visiting www.equi-analytical.com, which is one of the labs you can send hay and pasture to for nutrient analysis. For example, a lot of horse owners have their hay analyzed for percent non-structural carbohydrates (NSC) so they know if it’s appropriate to feed to easy keepers. Not only can you access a decade’s worth of hay, grass and grain analysis on this website, you can also directly access the NRC values.
Option number three is working with your veterinarian and/or an equine nutritionist to develop a suitable diet. Please pick one of these options because I’m a bit concerned that your young, growing horse may not be on a complete and balanced diet for his age. As a weanling, he requires more protein, calcium and other nutrients than an adult horse and it doesn’t sound to me like he’s getting them. For example, under the Common Feed Profiles link on equi-analytical laboratories, Bermuda hay averages 10% crude protein (the range is from 7 to 13%). Since a six month old colt needs 14-16% crude protein in the diet, he is deficient in this critical nutrient for proper growth and development.
I understand your reluctance to feed grain, but right now your number one responsibility is to provide everything he needs to grow properly and that might take more than pasture and a salt block (BTW there are very little minerals in a mineral block. It’s mostly just a salt block and artificial coloring).