Archive for August, 2017

Six Ways to Feed Performance Horses for Greater Achievement

Wednesday, August 16th, 2017

Much like human athletes, performance horses have special nutritional needs.

And with all athletes, it’s important for diets to match activity and athletic level to reach the highest level of achievement.

These six tips may help you to supply your horse with adequate energy to support optimal performance.

1. Know if it’s anaerobic or aerobic exercise
Physical activity is broken into general categories, aerobic and anaerobic, and it can be helpful to understand the science.

Anaerobic exercise, characterized by short bursts of maximum effort, is primarily fueled by glycogen, a polysaccharide which is composed of sugars and stored in muscle fibers. Soluble carbohydrates from your horse’s diet provide the building blocks for glycogen.

Imagine a competitive cutting horse with its incredible agility, quick reactions and strength. A horse like this would be primarily engaged in anaerobic exercise while they’re working a cow. Race horses and even Thoroughbreds running a mile and a half are also highly anaerobic while they’re running the race. Such activity depends on a diet providing adequate soluble carbohydrates to store and replenish muscle glycogen needed to fuel these short, intense exercise bouts.

Aerobic exercise, characterized by low to moderate-intensity activity lasting from several minutes to several hours, is primarily fueled by fat. A slow burning fuel, fat can be perfect for keeping the horse going for the long haul.

Three-day eventing, polo, dressage, and endurance riding are all examples of activities that are primarily aerobic. Performance horses engaged in this type of exercise may benefit from high fat horse feeds.

Keep in mind, no performance activity is either all anaerobic or all aerobic; each athletic activity has components of both types of work, especially when you consider the warm-up period before an actual competition. However, fueling the horse with the dietary energy source from which they will draw the most fuel is a targeted way to optimize the horse’s ability to perform.

2. Don’t let forages fall flat
While horses in nature may live entirely on forage, equestrians typically demand more from their horses than would ever be required of them in nature. Therefore, supplemental nutrients and energy are needed to sustain top-level performance in working horses.

Forage can provide adequate fuel for maintenance or very low level activity, but does not supply enough sugar and starch to maintain the glycogen stores required for a hard-working performance horse to succeed. For horses working at a high level, a feed designed to support that workload will provide adequate soluble carbohydrates and fats to maintain the needed fuel storage for performance.

3. Electrolytes are essential
Horses generally need free choice salt, such as Purina® Free Balance® 12:12 Vitamin and Mineral Supplement, but performance horses have additional mineral requirements. Any time a horse is working and sweating, consider an electrolyte supplement and feed as directed.

Check the ingredients on electrolytes in your horse feed. They should include primarily sodium, potassium and chloride. Always ensure your performance horse has adequate access to fresh, clean water and is well hydrated. Do not give electrolyte supplementation to a dehydrated horse.

4. Time the feed
Horses should not be fed a large meal 3-4 hours before an extensive performance event. Feeding any closer to the exercise can have an adverse effect on the horse’s performance, as the blood used for digestion isn’t readily available to the muscle tissue.

If a horse usually has hay available, consider feeding small amounts of hay throughout the day. Feeding forages before an event may not pose the same challenges as a concentrated feed does. Generally speaking, feeding small meals more often is better for the performance horse than one or two large meals a day.

After the event, let the horse cool down before feeding and then consider feeding a small carbohydrate-rich meal, such as Purina® Ultium® Competition Horse Formula, 30-120 minutes after exercise to help replace the glycogen used during the event.

5. Focus on recovery
Recovery from exercise requires the replenishment of glycogen stores as well of the repair of muscle cells damaged during exercise. Research in humans and horses has shown that ingesting specific amino acids after exercise can decrease muscle recovery time. Horses performing intense, repetitive work have been shown to benefit from a very specific amino acid profile available in a dietary supplement, such as Purina® SuperSportAmino Acid Supplement.

AdobeStock_Grey Chesnut Horses Running_660876896. Rethink top-dressing
Horse owners often try to provide additional fat to their performance horses. However, simply top-dressing with oil or an unfortified fat supplement increases the fat and calorie content of the ration, but it doesn’t provide protein, vitamins or minerals to maintain the nutritional balance of the total diet. The best option is to feed a nutritionally balanced feed with a high fat content as well as the proper amount of protein, amino acids, and other nutrients essential to support optimal performance. Consider feeding Purina® Amplify® High-Fat Supplement formulated for horses needing: extra calories from fat for weight gain, conditioning, competition, showing or sales preparation.

Paying attention to these six areas may help your working horse achieve its true performance potential.

Looking for a way to get that shiny show-stopping coat? Read feeding horses for a shiny coat.

 

Don’t set and forget self-fed supplements

Monday, August 7th, 2017

Self-Fed SupplementsBetter management of self-fed supplements could improve consumption and optimize performance.

Self-fed supplements are commonly used to deliver essential nutrients to cattle and to meet their nutritional requirements. However, use of a self-fed supplement does not translate to a self-managed supplementation program. Proper management of self-fed supplements is important to achieve desired intake and cattle performance goals.

One of the biggest challenges producers face with self-fed supplements is consumption,” says Christina Hayes, Ph.D., beef product manager with Purina Animal Nutrition. “When intake isn’t within the expected range, cattle performance may suffer. For optimal performance, management of self-fed supplements is essential.”

Many things can influence consumption, from forage quality and amount to supplement location and water availability. But you can take steps to help manage supplements and optimize intake.

The first step to becoming a better supplement manager begins with measuring intake.

 

Determining Consumption

“Calculating consumption can help you get a baseline intake for your herd, which you can then compare to target intake levels for the supplement,” says Hayes. “If your herd’s intake is below or above target intake levels, then you know it’s time to make adjustments.”

The following calculation can help you measure herd intake:

(Pounds of supplement distributed / # of cattle) / # days supplement was available

When making this calculation, don’t forget that calves will consume some supplement as well.

“If a supplement is not being consumed at target intake levels, it’s time to start troubleshooting,” says Hayes. “What is the forage quality? Where is the feeder located? Have there been weather challenges? What is the overall feeding program?”

If consumption is a challenge, there are strategies you can implement to help achieve the desired intake.

 

Managing Supplements

Implementing some simple strategies can go a long way toward ideal supplement consumption.

Here are a few tips:

  • Look for a high-quality supplement that includes protein, energy, calcium, phosphorus and trace minerals
  • It is best to start supplementing early to ensure cattle requirements are being met. If you wait too long to supplement and cows have to play nutritional catch-up, you may experience supplement overconsumption.
  • Initially, place supplements near a water source or in loafing or grazing areas. Cattle frequently visit those spots, giving them more opportunity to consume as they adjust to using the supplements. As the cattle become more comfortable with supplements, you can gradually move supplements further from those areas to entice them to graze underutilized pasture.
  • Ensure fresh, cool water is available, preferably in the shade during the warm, summer months. As temperature and humidity rise, cattle will require more water. Poor water quality, or lack of water, can cause cattle to go off feed quickly, which can limit feed intake and overall cattle performance.
  • Do not move a full bulk feeder. The feed may pack, which can compromise flow, especially if the feed is oily.
  • Clean feeder troughs regularly to remove any compromised product and help keep product fresh. When it rains, feed behind an adjustable gate can become wet, causing feed to swell, and preventing flow of fresh feed. Removing wet feed will also prevent mold and rot.
  • For supplements with Intake Modifying Technology, consumption will adjust with changes in forage quantity and quality. Expect higher consumption with lower quality/quantity forage and lower consumption with higher quality/quantity forage. Be aware that in times of lower quality/quantity forage, cattle may consume supplements rapidly.

Here are some general rules of thumb by self-fed product:

Wind & Rain Storm Mineral:

  • Put fresh, non-medicated mineral out once per week.
  • Use a covered mineral feeder to help protect the mineral.
  • Know if your mineral is complete or non-complete. Complete minerals include salt, which helps drive intake.

Accuration Block or Tub Supplement:

  • In contrast to a plastic tub, blocks have corrugated cardboard sides. Initially, in smaller pastures, more than one big block can be placed in a feeding location. When consumption is determined, then the blocks can be relocated or separated.
  • Cows per block is a function of block size and pasture size.
    • 500 lb. block: One block per 20 to 25 cows
    • 200 lb. block: One block per 10 to 15 cows

Accuration Liquid Supplement:

  • All storage tanks and lick tanks must be cleaned prior to adding liquid.
  • At the end of the feeding season, tip tanks on their sides so the remaining liquid will flow out from the wheel slot. This prevents the remaining liquid from gelling, separating or molding inside the tank and keeps rain water from entering the tank.
  • Accuration Liquid is a suspension product. Without agitation, it can become thicker over time, so it is important to move the liquid on a regular basis to maintain the free-flowing state. If forage quality is meeting cattle requirements and liquid intake is low, it is a good practice to more the lick wheels manually. That should be done weekly to keep the product from thickening in the tank.

 

Driving performance

No matter the product form, a self-fed supplement should not be approached with a “set it and forget it” strategy. “Small things like adjusting tub location and cleaning out a feeder can work together to help you achieve desired intake levels,” says Hayes. “And more desirable consumption can, potentially, lead to improved cattle performance.”

The extra time spent calculating supplement consumption and making adjustments may be well worth it.

 

Article Attributed to Purina Mills and Christina Hayes, Ph. D.

2017 Ranchers Gathering in Decatur

Tuesday, July 18th, 2017
Aug
3
5:30 pm

Ranchers GatheringThe 2017 Ranchers Gathering kicks off Thursday, August 3, 2017, at the First Baptist Church in Decatur, Texas.

What: Ranchers Gathering
When: August 3, 2017, 5:30 to 8:30 pm
Where: First Baptist Church, Decatur, TX
Cost: $10 Registration due by July 31st

Dr. Bruce Carpenter, Professor and Livestock Specialist with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service out of the Midland/Odessa Region to come speak about “Managing Females for Fertility and Lifetime Value.”

Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. for everyone to visit booths at the trade show. The trade show will feature over 20 agriculture related businesses offering the newest in technology for beef cattle producers. Dinner is set for 6:00 p.m. The $10 registration fee covers the meal and makes you eligible for one of the many door prizes given away during the program. This year’s event is being sponsored by the Wise County Extension Livestock and Forage Committee.

The deadline to register is Monday, July 31, 2017. To register, come by the Wise County Extension office at 206 S. State Street. Please make checks payable to Extension Livestock Committee. For more information, please call the Wise County Extension Office at 940-627-3341. Click here for directions.

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