Grass Nuts: Pros and Cons

MiniScam

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Going into winter, my boy (soon turning 20yo) will start to drop condition. He is currently fed on TopSpec Comprehensive Balancer which I like. I'm looking to add a forage base for weight maintenance. Last year he was on a molasses-free Alfalfa chop which worked for him. But I'd rather not feed alfalfa if there's an alternative having done a bit of reading on it. He's in light work (long walks 4 days a week) so I want something that won't hot him up.

I'm thinking of giving him a light oat-based chaff (TopSpec Lite or similar) to bulk the feed out, with soaked grass nuts for calories. I've never fed grass nuts before though, and keen to hear your thoughts on them. Pros/cons? I'm worried about energy levels, choke, etc - any experiences? Or recommended alternatives? Thanks! :)
 

ester

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Why bulk a feed out with low calorie chaff if they are losing condition?

I would consider feeding copra and/or adding micronised linseed for him.
 

milliepops

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I feed emerald green nuts to my sec D alongside her oats and linseed... she looks and feel good on it, she's in plenty of work so I don't tend to fret over the energy supplied. I feed them soaked if given in a bucket feed as they do swell. I find they are OK dry in a treat ball as the horse has time to chew each few pellets that drop out.
 

MiniScam

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Ester - my thinking is to add a low calorie bulk to slow him down and fill him up, increasing digestion time and therefore getting more goodness out of the higher calorie feed. Also by giving fewer grass nuts in each feed, it may reduce the risk of choke too. Although this may be misguided logic! :) Happy to add linseed, although the TopSpec has linseed already (won't hurt to add more though I suppose). I considered Copra but don't want anything with additional vits and mins as he has the balancer. Just had a quick look on the CoolStance website and can't find an ingredients list - is it only coconut oil and meal, or other additives too? I like the look of it otherwise.

MJR2BT - that's what I'm worried about. Did you feed them with chaff/similar or just on their own?
 

meleeka

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I've just started my Cushings pony on them because I'm at my wits end with getting her to eat. So far she's eating them. They have the same consistency as Fast Fibre if you've ever fed that. If you soak them so they are fairly runny I can't see any choking risk.
 

ester

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hmm I'm just not sure I would want to fill a horse up with lower calories if I were worried about their weight, They should be eating plenty of hay/haylage anyway to increase digestion time, shouldn't need it as part of their hard feed ration.

There is nothing additives wise in the copra, just coconut.

Mine (24) gets a grass chaff instead of nuts (and actually a lower energy one, partly as he likes it and it is just a carrier ATM not as part of keeping him 'fed') and up to 2 mugs of linseed a day in winter. -I would be surprised if the topspec had that much in? When he gets really old I will move him onto the copra if he will eat it ;).

Personally Im not a fan of topspec balancers from their profile or their additivies. I use equimins adv. complete pellets but would also use forageplus/equivita/pro_earth pro hoof if not.
 

Fiona

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We had a toothless old pony on loan last winter, who couldn't eat hay, and she kept condition on wonderfully well eating a sloppy mix of grass nuts, fast fibre and grass chaff.....

I'd definitely recommend. ..

Fiona
 

MiniScam

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Thank you, makes a lot of sense. He'll be living out on 9 acres (with three good doers) and on ad lib hay/haylage so you're right, that should be fine for forage.

All comes down to personal choice I suppose. I love TopSpec and won't change it. He has improved hugely after changing to TopSpec last year, so I won't go back now on the risk he'll go downhill again.
 

ILuvCowparsely

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I use Simple Systems grass nuts soaked of course, only one of mine has them as the other is retired, but I mix with her feed so she has roughly 1/2 scoop per feed. My horse was really good on them condition wise so I will use them again, they also store well in the feed bin so ready to continue this winter.
 

Polos Mum

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My dentist recommended them for an older pony who couldn't chew hay - he had big tugs of them to last overnight.

Soaking wise I think people don't give them enough water/ time which is where problems arise - they are close to sugarbeet in terms of how much water they absorb so I feed 1 scoop nuts to 4-5 scoops of water and leave them a good 5-6 hours then add more water and mix before I feed (most of the time in winter I make up the next feed as I'm giving one (so morning feed made the night before)

I really rate them - they are just grass after all which is what horses are largely designed to eat ! Very economical if you have to feed in large quantities
Seeing the amount of swelling and volume of water absorbed - I wouldn't feed them dry ever
 

SEL

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I can highly recommend copra for weight gain. Feeding alongside a balancer is perfect.

I would try and borrow some first if you think of adding it though as some horses hate the taste. My 2 think it is scrummy and I can hide all sorts in it.
 

Undecided

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Can I confuse things more? Grass Nuts are 10 MJ/kg, whereas Speedibeet is 12.. therefore weight for weight Speedibeet would give you a little more calories whilst still giving the same water content, and is lower in protein and sugar so you can feed plenty without risk of digestive upset etc.
Also as many have suggested, linseed or copra are not bulky, being more of a dense powder so don't take up much bucket space, and are high in oil and therefore calories.
As for a chop/chaff, grass type ones don't contain alfalfa, but will be lower in MJ/kg than say alfa a oil. Dengie do a Meadow Grass which has some grass nuts in, at 11.5 MJ/kg, where as Graze On etc. are more around the 10 mark, so again you can feed a little less to get the same amount of calories and leave the remainder of your horse's daily ration as ad lib forage.
 

tallyho!

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Grass nuts are brilliant! Feed as much as you need for calorie intake or as a carrier if calories not needed. I don't feed alfalfa as one of mine is allergic to it.

I've fed it with speedibeet as well, was very good. If you need extra calories, why not mix with micronised linseed - a mugful for weight gain is enough to start with. Good value for money. If more is needed the Thunderbrook oats are really good too. Non-heating calories.

Have you looked into why the weight drops off so suddenly? Is there an underlying issue?
 

MiniScam

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Have you looked into why the weight drops off so suddenly? Is there an underlying issue?
I'm not sure... he doesn't drop weight suddenly, just a slow decline through winter. He's a very good doer during the summer (and always has been during winter) but my gut feeling is that I think his age is just catching up with him - he is a big chunky IDxConnie. He looked fab coming out of last winter when he was just on alfalfa and TopSpec, it's just he needed a bit more than the Lite balancer and TopChop Lite that kept him going through the summer.

That said, I have the dentist coming to see him next week and I'm due to worm him too this weekend. He's had a good check up from the vet (although they didn't take any bloods) a month or so ago - he was diagnosed with kissing spines and arthritis :(. Do you have any thoughts on what it could be if not just age? Would you get some blood tests done?

I'm leaning towards trying grass nuts and a grass chop perhaps so he's getting as much 'natural' goodness as possible. Trying to keep things simple :)
 

Polos Mum

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he was diagnosed with kissing spines and arthritis :(.
Personally I think being in constant nagging pain can cause them to drop condition/ weight - what did your vet recommend about pain management?

Might be worth thinking about regular bute or equivalent to see if that helps when weather is cold/ damp and arthritis is worse?
 

tallyho!

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I'm not sure... he doesn't drop weight suddenly, just a slow decline through winter. He's a very good doer during the summer (and always has been during winter) but my gut feeling is that I think his age is just catching up with him - he is a big chunky IDxConnie. He looked fab coming out of last winter when he was just on alfalfa and TopSpec, it's just he needed a bit more than the Lite balancer and TopChop Lite that kept him going through the summer.

That said, I have the dentist coming to see him next week and I'm due to worm him too this weekend. He's had a good check up from the vet (although they didn't take any bloods) a month or so ago - he was diagnosed with kissing spines and arthritis :(. Do you have any thoughts on what it could be if not just age? Would you get some blood tests done?

I'm leaning towards trying grass nuts and a grass chop perhaps so he's getting as much 'natural' goodness as possible. Trying to keep things simple :)
Personally I think being in constant nagging pain can cause them to drop condition/ weight - what did your vet recommend about pain management?

Might be worth thinking about regular bute or equivalent to see if that helps when weather is cold/ damp and arthritis is worse?
Yes, I was going to say pain... in the summer months it's warm and they get lots of Omega 3 fatty acids, good doses of Vitamin E, D from sunshine helps with calcium etc and lovely healthy polyphenols that fight inflammation and then in winter this declines and the pain comes back with the cold. Just like humans with arthritis... winter is always worse.

You could look into supplementing the Omega 3 with micronised linseed and a good vit e supplement. The grass nuts probably do contain good levels so I would say grass nuts are a good option.

Ask the vet what you can give to ease the pain.
 

MiniScam

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Thanks both - I went into panic mode after his diagnosis (he's been my friend and guardian for 16 years without as much as a days' lameness and I was mortified to think of him in pain), so he is on a very comprehensive regime for his arthritis which seems to be working really well (we'll see how it goes as the weather gets worse). He gets:
* turmeric and MSM in his food (will be adding linseed too)
* bute when required (before riding after having a couple of days off, after long rides, or if he's stiff - this may be upped in winter but he'll tell me how he's feeling)
* long, slow hacking as often as possible (I now have a sharer to help keep him moving - vet's advice)
* PE infra-red wraps on all four legs for at least 30 mins before and after riding (I put them on for as long as possible while I poo pick etc)
* Rambo Ionic sheet, as above
* Massage pad before tacking up
It's cost me a fortune, but he's feeling very well on it :D In fact, he's been feeling better over the last few weeks than he has done in years, bless him!

So if it's an underlying pain-related issue, hopefully the above will be helping and I won't notice such a drop in weight this year. Will be interesting to see...
 

tallyho!

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Thanks both - I went into panic mode after his diagnosis (he's been my friend and guardian for 16 years without as much as a days' lameness and I was mortified to think of him in pain), so he is on a very comprehensive regime for his arthritis which seems to be working really well (we'll see how it goes as the weather gets worse). He gets:
* turmeric and MSM in his food (will be adding linseed too)
* bute when required (before riding after having a couple of days off, after long rides, or if he's stiff - this may be upped in winter but he'll tell me how he's feeling)
* long, slow hacking as often as possible (I now have a sharer to help keep him moving - vet's advice)
* PE infra-red wraps on all four legs for at least 30 mins before and after riding (I put them on for as long as possible while I poo pick etc)
* Rambo Ionic sheet, as above
* Massage pad before tacking up
It's cost me a fortune, but he's feeling very well on it :D In fact, he's been feeling better over the last few weeks than he has done in years, bless him!

So if it's an underlying pain-related issue, hopefully the above will be helping and I won't notice such a drop in weight this year. Will be interesting to see...
Yes good, anything to relieve inflammation will surely help :)
 
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