Is It Possible to Over Supplement?

Is it possible to over supplement your horse? I only give my horses a little Omelene 100 as more of a treat. I have never had my hay analyzed either but both my vet and farrier say they are healthy with body scores of 6 & 7, one puts on weight easily. They are barefoot with good strong hooves and never sick. They are on good 80% grass 20% alfalfa hay. Thank You! Diane

Dear Diane,

Kudos to you for having two healthy, happy horses! While you are in no danger of oversupplementing, I am concerned that your horses are UNDERsupplemented. That is, they appear to be getting good quality hay, but the little amount of fortified grain they are given is not completing and balancing the diet in terms of protein, vitamins and minerals.

Since your horses are already on the heavy side, I wouldn’t recommended increasing the amount of sweet feed (Omelene 100) to meet their daily nutrient requirements, as that would provide too many calories and too much sugar/starch. Instead, I recommend you give your horses either a ration balancer or a multi-vitamin/mineral supplement. What’s the difference? Like a multi-vitamin/mineral supplement, ration balancers typically contain the appropriate mix of vitamins and minerals, but they also include essential amino acids, the building blocks of protein. A ration balancer is correctly fed at the rate of about 1 – 2 pounds per day.

However, because you’re feeding good quality hay that contains some alfalfa, unless your horses are in hard work or pregnant/lactating they may not need any additional protein. In that case, a multi-vitamin/mineral supplement would be your best choice to round out their diets. Just like the name says, these products contain the essential vitamins and minerals your horse needs to avoid deficiencies or imbalances in a hay-only diet. Only 1 – 2 ounces of most multi-vitamin/mineral supplements needs to be fed to ensure your horses are getting everything they need to build healthy tissue on the inside as well as the outside.

Lydia Gray, DVM MA, is the Staff Veterinarian for SmartPak. Prior to joining SmartPak, Dr. Gray served as the first-ever Director of Owner Education for the American Association of Equine Practitioners. She has authored numerous articles in publications such as The Horse, Horse Illustrated, Western Horseman and a variety of veterinary journals and magazines. Dr. Gray is also a frequent speaker at horse expos, veterinary conventions and other events. After graduating with honors from the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine and receiving her Master's Degree in Interpersonal and Organizational Communication, she practiced at the Tremont Veterinary Clinic for several years. Dr. Gray is active in the American Veterinary Medical Association and Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association. She enjoys training and showing her Trakehner, Newman, in both combined driving and dressage, and is a USDF “L” Program Graduate (with distinction). Find Dr. Gray on Google+

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Posted in Ask the Vet, Nutrition

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2 comments on “Is It Possible to Over Supplement?
  1. Deborah says:

    This was very good. My friend does not like supplements, but their horses sound like these horses.
    This was a very good answer and question thing. I liked it a lot and I learned from it also.

  2. Stephanie says:

    As this was a good response to people who may be under supplementing, under what guidelines can we follow to see if we are over supplementing?

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