Are you looking to improve the feeding routine for your Off the Track Thoroughbreds (OTTBs)? Well, look no further! In this informative video by Milestone Equestrian, the speaker shares their feeding routine for their OTTBs, emphasizing the switch to a forage-based diet. The video discusses the elimination of grain from the horses’ diet, the use of alfalfa cubes, beet pulp, and pressed timothy hay pellets as forage alternatives, and the benefits of soaking the feed. The speaker also highlights the importance of a slow transition off grain and recommends Mad Barn’s free diet balancing service and supplements. Throughout the video, the improved condition of the horses’ hooves and overall health is showcased, making it a valuable resource for anyone interested in optimizing their OTTBs’ feeding routine.

Understanding Off the Track Thoroughbreds (OTTBs) Dietary Needs

Off the Track Thoroughbreds (OTTBs) are retired racehorses that require specific dietary considerations in order to maintain their health and wellbeing. Understanding their nutritional needs is crucial for their overall health and performance. In this article, we will explore the basic nutritional needs of OTTBs as well as their special dietary requirements after retiring from racing.

Basic Nutritional Needs of OTTBs

Like all horses, OTTBs require a balanced diet that consists of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals. However, their dietary needs may differ as compared to horses that have not been involved in competitive racing. A diet high in energy-rich ingredients is necessary to support their athletic endeavors, but adjustments must be made after retirement to support their new lifestyle. Retired racehorses no longer require the same levels of energy that they did while racing, and thus, their diet should be modified accordingly.

Special Dietary Requirements of Retired Racehorses

Once a racehorse retires, their dietary needs shift from energy-dense feeds to a forage-based diet. This transition is essential to promote the overall health and longevity of the horse. A forage-based diet provides several benefits, including improved digestion, metabolic function, and the promotion of natural eating habits.

Benefits of a Forage-Based Diet

A forage-based diet offers numerous health benefits for OTTBs. The high fiber content aids in proper digestion and prevents digestive disorders such as colic. It also helps maintain a healthy weight, as fiber-rich diets tend to be more filling and decrease the likelihood of overeating. Additionally, a forage-based diet promotes dental health by stimulating natural chewing and grinding actions, which can help prevent dental issues such as uneven wear and sharp points.

Effect on Metabolism and Digestion

Forage-based diets have a positive effect on the metabolism and digestion of OTTBs. The fibrous nature of forage requires more time and effort to be broken down by the horse’s digestive system, promoting a slow and steady release of nutrients. This helps regulate blood sugar levels and reduces the risk of metabolic disorders such as insulin resistance.

Promoting Natural Eating Habits

Providing OTTBs with a forage-based diet allows them to exhibit natural eating habits. Horses are grazing animals by nature, and offering a diet that mimics their natural feeding behavior promotes physical and mental wellbeing. It also reduces the occurrence of stereotypic behaviors such as cribbing or weaving, which are often associated with confinement and limited access to forage.

Components of a Forage-Based Diet

A well-rounded forage-based diet for OTTBs consists of various components, each providing unique benefits. Alfalfa cubes are an excellent source of protein, calcium, and other essential nutrients. They can be fed soaked or dry, depending on the horse’s specific needs. Beet pulp is another valuable inclusion in the diet, as it provides a good source of digestible fiber and promotes healthy gut function. Pressed timothy hay pellets, rich in fiber, are also a valuable addition to the forage-based diet.

Importance of Sugar-Control in OTTBs Diet

Controlling sugar intake is crucial for the health and wellbeing of OTTBs. Excessive consumption of sugar can lead to various health issues, including weight gain, insulin resistance, and laminitis. It is important to choose sugar-free feed options and carefully monitor the sugar content in any additional supplements or treats.

Negative Effects of Excessive Sugar

High sugar diets can have severe consequences on the health of OTTBs. The rapid influx of sugar into the bloodstream can lead to elevated insulin levels, which can result in insulin resistance over time. Insulin resistance is associated with weight gain and a predisposition to laminitis, a painful hoof condition that can have devastating effects on a horse’s soundness and quality of life.

Choosing Sugar-Free Feed Options

When selecting feed options for OTTBs, it is essential to opt for sugar-free alternatives. Reading and understanding product labels is crucial to avoid hidden sources of sugar, such as molasses. Many reputable equine feed companies offer sugar-free options specifically formulated for horses with dietary restrictions, including retired racehorses.

Role of Shredded Beet Pulp in Limiting Sugar Intake

Shredded beet pulp can play a significant role in limiting sugar intake in OTTBs. High-quality shredded beet pulp is low in sugar and provides a valuable source of non-structural carbohydrates. It can be soaked before feeding to further reduce its sugar content and increase its digestibility. This makes it an ideal addition to a forage-based diet for OTTBs.

The Process of Soaking Feed

Soaking feed offers several benefits for OTTBs. It can improve digestibility, increase water intake, and reduce the risk of choke. Soaking feed before feeding also allows for the addition of any required supplements, ensuring that they are thoroughly mixed and consumed by the horse.

Benefits of Feed Soaking

Soaked feed is easier to chew and digest, making it an excellent option for horses with dental issues or digestive disorders. The water added during the soaking process also helps increase the horse’s overall water intake, which is vital for maintaining hydration and kidney function. Soaking feed can also prevent or alleviate the occurrence of choke, a condition where food becomes lodged in the esophagus, which can be life-threatening if not promptly treated.

Steps to Successfully Soak Feed

To successfully soak feed, you will need to follow a few simple steps. First, choose a suitable container to soak the feed in, such as a bucket or feed tub. Add the desired amount of feed and cover it with water, ensuring that the feed is fully submerged. Allow the feed to soak for the recommended time, typically ranging from 30 minutes to several hours, depending on the specific type of feed. Once the soaking time is complete, drain any excess water before feeding the soaked feed to the horse.

Impact on Digestion and Water Intake

Soaked feed has a positive impact on digestion and water intake in OTTBs. The soft texture of soaked feed makes it easier for the horse to chew and digest, reducing the risk of digestive issues. The increased water content also helps prevent dehydration and encourages the horse to consume an adequate amount of water, which aids in digestion and overall hydration.

Feeding Frequency and Other Supplements

Feeding frequency is an essential aspect of an OTTBs diet. A once-a-day feeding schedule is often recommended for retired racehorses, as it allows for proper utilization of nutrients and prevents overgrazing behavior. Additionally, including pelleted mineral vitamin supplements in the diet ensures that the horse receives all the essential nutrients required for optimal health.

Significance of Once-a-Day Feeding

Once-a-day feeding has various advantages for OTTBs. It mimics their natural grazing behavior, where horses consume the majority of their food in a concentrated period during the day. This approach encourages the horse to eat slowly and thoroughly chew their food, promoting proper digestion. Once-a-day feeding also reduces the risk of digestive disorders that can occur when a horse has continuous access to feed.

Adding Pelleted Mineral Vitamin Supplements to the Diet

Incorporating pelleted mineral vitamin supplements into the diet of an OTTB is vital to ensure they receive all the necessary essential nutrients. These supplements are specifically formulated to provide a balanced combination of vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients that may be lacking in a forage-based diet alone. They can be easily added to the feed or soaked with the forage, ensuring the horse receives a well-rounded diet.

Benefit of Free-Choice Access to Hay

Free-choice access to hay is an essential component of an OTTBs diet. It allows the horse to exhibit natural grazing behavior and helps maintain a healthy digestive system. Offering quality hay throughout the day ensures that the horse has access to a constant source of forage, which helps prevent boredom and promotes optimal gut health.

Transitioning from Grain

Transitioning from a grain-based diet to a forage-based diet is essential for the health and wellbeing of OTTBs. While grains provide a quick source of energy for racehorses, a sudden reduction or elimination of grains after retiring can lead to digestive issues and weight gain. Gradually reducing grain intake and increasing forage consumption allows the horse’s digestive system to adjust and maintain a healthy weight.

Reasons to Make the Switch from Grain

There are several reasons to make the switch from a grain-based diet to a forage-based diet for OTTBs. Firstly, grains are high in starch and sugar, which can increase the risk of metabolic disorders and laminitis. Secondly, excessive grain consumption can lead to behavioral issues such as hyperactivity and mood swings. Finally, a forage-based diet provides a more natural feeding routine that promotes optimal digestive health and overall wellbeing.

Steps for a Smooth Transition from Grain

To ensure a smooth transition from a grain-based diet to a forage-based diet, it is important to make gradual changes over a period of time. Start by reducing the amount of grain fed while gradually increasing the amount of forage offered. This transition should be done over a period of weeks to allow the horse’s digestive system to adapt. Monitoring the horse’s weight and overall condition throughout the transition is crucial to ensure they are maintaining a healthy balance.

Misconceptions about Grain Feeding

There are several common misconceptions about grain feeding that are important to address. Firstly, many believe that grains are necessary to provide sufficient energy for performance. However, a well-formulated forage-based diet can provide all the energy an OTTB requires without the potential negative effects of excessive grain consumption. Secondly, some may believe that grains are the only source of certain essential nutrients. While grains can be a source of certain nutrients, a balanced forage-based diet supplemented with appropriate mineral vitamin supplements can provide the necessary nutrients for the horse’s health and wellbeing.

Recommendations for Diet Balancing Services

Utilizing diet balancing services, such as Mad Barn’s diet balancing service, can greatly benefit OTTBs. These services analyze the horse’s current diet and provide recommendations to ensure it is properly balanced for optimal health and performance. Diet balancing services take into account the specific needs of retired racehorses and help owners make informed decisions about their horse’s nutrition.

Using Mad Barn’s Diet Balancing Service

Mad Barn’s diet balancing service specializes in providing customized diet plans for horses, taking into consideration their unique needs and goals. By utilizing their services, owners can ensure that their OTTBs are receiving a well-balanced diet that meets their nutritional requirements. With their expertise and knowledge, Mad Barn can help create a feeding routine that supports the overall health and wellbeing of retired racehorses.

Benefits of Using Diet Balancing Services

Using a diet balancing service offers several benefits for OTTB owners. These services provide expert guidance and support, ensuring that the horse’s nutritional needs are met. They can help identify any imbalances or deficiencies in the current diet and make appropriate recommendations. Diet balancing services also take into account the specific dietary requirements of retired racehorses, helping owners navigate the unique challenges associated with transitioning from racing to retirement.

Role of Supplements in Balancing the Diet

Supplements play a crucial role in balancing the diet of OTTBs. While a forage-based diet provides the foundation of their nutrition, additional supplements may be necessary to ensure they receive all the essential vitamins and minerals. Supplements such as pelleted mineral vitamin mixes are specifically formulated to fill any nutritional gaps that may exist in a forage-based diet, providing a well-rounded and balanced nutritional profile for the horse.

Evaluating the Impact of Forage-Based Diet

Transitioning to a forage-based diet can have a significant impact on the overall health and wellbeing of OTTBs. The changes in diet often result in visible improvements in hoof health, muscular development, and the overall condition of the horse. By providing a diet that supports their natural biological needs, owners can witness positive changes and improved athleticism in their retired racehorses.

Visible Improvements in Hoof Health

One of the most noticeable benefits of a forage-based diet is the improvement in hoof health. A diet rich in fiber and low in sugar helps prevent the onset of laminitis and promotes strong, healthy hooves. Retired racehorses may experience significant improvements in hoof quality, which is essential for their soundness and long-term wellbeing.

Notable Muscular Development

A well-balanced forage-based diet promotes muscular development in OTTBs. The high amino acid content in forage helps support muscle growth and recovery, allowing the horses to maintain and develop their muscle mass. Proper nutrition, combined with appropriate exercise and training, can result in well-defined and strong musculature.

Overall Enhanced Condition of OTTBs

A forage-based diet has a positive impact on the overall condition of OTTBs. The combination of improved digestion, stable blood sugar levels, and appropriate mineral vitamin intake leads to healthier body weight, coat condition, and overall vitality. Retired racehorses that are fed a well-balanced diet are more likely to maintain an optimum body condition and remain in good health.

Conclusion

Understanding and meeting the dietary needs of Off the Track Thoroughbreds (OTTBs) is crucial for maintaining their health and wellbeing after retirement from racing. A forage-based diet offers numerous benefits, including improved digestion, better metabolism, and the promotion of natural eating habits. Key components of a forage-based diet include alfalfa cubes, beet pulp, and pressed timothy hay pellets. It is important to control sugar intake and consider soaking feed to enhance digestion and water intake. Additionally, feeding frequency, mineral vitamin supplements, and free-choice access to hay all contribute to a well-balanced diet for OTTBs. Transitioning from a grain-based diet should be done gradually to avoid digestive issues and weight gain. Utilizing diet balancing services, such as Mad Barn’s, can help owners ensure that their OTTBs receive a nutritionally balanced diet. By evaluating the impact of a forage-based diet, owners can witness visible improvements in hoof health, muscular development, and the overall condition of their retired racehorses. Continued monitoring and adjustments to the diet are necessary to maintain optimal health and performance. With proper nutrition, success stories and positive outcomes can be achieved in the feeding routine of OTTBs.