Not gonna lie, my diet is a strange mixture of healthy choices (no fast food, no soft drinks, lots of fruits, low fat meals, etc.) and a horrendously uncontrollable sweet tooth (so much candy, pastries, and ice cream for dinner). I’ve gone through weight loss/healthy eating phases before, but counting calories turned my brain into Swiss cheese and left me feeling like I was starving 100% of the time, so naaaaaah.
But when it comes to Raglan’s diet, I take nutrition requirements more seriously. That’s why when I started thinking about his diet I decided to purchase a subscription to FeedXL, an online platform that strives to “allow you to quickly and easily assess your horse’s diet using supported science”.
I started out by filling out information about Raglan (breed, activity level, weight, etc.). Then I plugged his current diet into the platform. Here’s the chart it generated:
On top of the obvious deficiencies in Selenium, Manganese, Iodine, Sodium, Vitamin E, Vitamin B1, and Folic Acid, there were a couple of other details that quickly caught my attention.
As a result, I’ve doubled the amount of Glucosamine that Raglan is getting and I’ve decided that once his bag of Cool Calories is empty I won’t be buying another. Gotta save that $$$!
TrainerK thinks that some of Raglan’s recent wild behavior can be attributed to his feed. LMF Gold is sticky. It’s got molasses in it. It’s 18% starch and 7% simple sugars for a total NSC of 25%. TrainerK calls it “pony crack”. It’s done a wonderful job of putting weight on Raglan, but TrainerK recommended that I try switching to Purina Strategy Healthy Edge (which has a comparatively low NSC of 16.5%).
Replacing the 3.75 pounds of LMF Gold with 3 pounds of Purina Strategy Healthy Edge dropped his Digestible Energy down by 5%. From there it was just a matter of finding a supplement that could fill in nutritional gaps. For that, I went to the mecca of all pony supplements: Smartpak.
After plugging in a dozen different supplements, I settled on MVP’S Mega-Mag, a “well-balanced multi-vitamin and mineral supplement formulated to … accommodate feeding programs consisting of alfalfa hay/grain based diets”. A couple of scoops of Mega-Mag left sodium as Raglan’s only deficiency, which was quickly fixed by adding a couple of ounces of iodized salt to his feed.
Here’s a look at Raglan’s new diet, including his updated chart of nutritional needs:
Of course, I’m not implementing all of these changes at the same time. I’ve been gradually reducing the amount of LMF Gold and increasing the amount of Purina Strategy Healthy Edge that Raglan gets by a pound every four days or so. He’ll be fully changed over sometime next week.
As for supplements, I’ve already doubled the amount of Glucosamine he gets and will be adding in the iodized salt the next time I make grain baggies. After he’s finished transitioning to the Healthy Edge I intend to leave his diet alone for another thirty days to watch for any temperament changes, then if all goes well I should be introducing the Mega-Mag. He’s going to be the healthiest horse around 🙌
FeedXL has been a great tool to help me find gaps in Raglan’s diet. However, I wouldn’t recommend it to all but the most die hard of nutrition nerds. It’s not the easiest of websites to use. For a $60 yearly subscription, I expected the FeedXL experience to be a lot less clunky and more intuitive than it was.
It also lacked a lot of the features that I expected it to have. I wasn’t able to compare diets side by side (you have to navigate out of your current diet and into your new one) and its basic interface made scrolling through all of the feed options monotonous and overwhelming. It couldn’t give me cost comparisons or tell me which grains are available in my area. I wasn’t able to narrow down grain choices by brand, percent fat, NSC content, or ingredients. Even when I was able to find supplements I liked using Smartpak’s free comparison charts, FeedXL wasn’t able to tell me the serving size of each one—I had to open a bunch of extra tabs just to be able to enter the right amounts of potential supplements into my horse’s diet.
When it comes down to it, the main problem with FeedXL is that if you don’t already know what you are looking for, it’s easy to get lost in the overflow of data and options that FeedXL gives you—which defeats the purpose. I thought it’d be a more streamlined way to research my horse’s diet, but instead it felt like something I could have cooked up with some spare time and an Excel spreadsheet.
If you still want to check it out, the $20 one month subscription is probably your best bet!