I was recently asked by Standlee Feed Company to feed their products to my horses for thirty days and then blog about my experience. The Idaho based company sent me a $120 dollar gift card to purchase their feed from a local supplier here in northern California.
In mid-April I headed down to my local Tractor Supply store, which carries Standlee products. For $120 I was able to buy three 50 pound compressed mini bales of grass/alfalfa hay, two 40 pound bags of timothy pellets and two 40 pound bags of beet pulp pellets. Tractor Supply’s customer service was awesome as usual, but their selection left me wanting. I wanted to get compressed Timothy, but had to settle for the grass/alfalfa combo instead.
The next day I started working the Standlee feed in with my timothy hay that I’m currently feeding. I started out by adding a half of the little flakes from the compressed bales. The bales are supposed to spread out once you remove them from the plastic. I took measurements in the plastic, and then again after about ten minutes. I noticed only very little “growth”. What I did notice was a cloud of dust when I pulled apart a couple of flakes. It’s not dirt, it’s alfalfa dust. My horses never coughed but I did. I also found a little rock, and a little piece of baling twine. I’m not sure why there would be twine in the bale since it was secured with plastic bands. It happens. Always look your hay over before you throw it into the feeder.
I was on the fence but my horses loved it. They immediately scarfed it up the first time I fed it. On day two they were waiting for me eagerly. I had to do some training in personal space in order to get the hay to the feeder. My guys are normally pretty polite, but they were so eager to get that hay that they forgot their manners. I guess they like alfalfa as much as I like chocolate.
Standlee’s compressed hay is certified noxious weed free. Weed free programs are becoming more and more common. Certain wilderness areas, and some counties require that hay be certified as weed free before you can bring it with you. I can definitely see the value in using these compact, easy to transport bales for travel to the mountains or horse shows.
Beet pulp is awesome. I use it every winter to keep weight on my Thoroughbred. It’s a good way to put weight on without making my horse hot. And it’s very affordable. Beet pulp is easily digestible and low in sugar. Natural balance farriers will recommend beet pulp or rice bran, but the beet pulp is about half the price. You can feed it in addition to your hay or as a substitute.
It’s an acquired taste, so not all horses like it at first. I introduce it slowly to my horses with some grain to get them used to it. After a while I can feed it plain.
How to feed beet pulp is an area that is highly debated. You’ll hear advice ranging from, soak it for four hours or your horse will explode to don’t soak it at all. Standlee recommends that you soak your beet pulp. (Shreds for 30 minutes, pellets for two hours.) I chose to feed the pellets this time because they are lower in sugar (7% vs 10% in the shreds). Soaking feed for two hours is a major pain when you’re a working mother juggling your kids between baseball and 4-H. After putting off feeding the beet pulp pellets for a while because I couldn’t work out the time needed to soak it, I decided to do some research. I went straight to AAEP for my information. According to the experts who conducted the experiments, no horses exploded from eating unsoaked beet pulp. Not only did they not explode, but they suffered no ill effects at all (Feeding Beet Pulp). It seems to soak or not to soak is a question to be answered by you and your horse. Ask him how he prefers it.
When I brought out the pellets my horses got very excited! Pellets sound like grain. The sound of the scoop crinkling the bag, the rattle in the bucket as I pour them in. The anticipation was intense. As was their disappointment when they rushed to their buckets only to discover that their “grain” tastes like grass hay. Poor boys. They turned up their noses and went back to their hay (orchard grass). Only after the hay was gone and there was nothing better to do did they finally eat the pellets.
Pellets are handy. They are easy to haul and easy to feed (No more hay down the bra! Woohoo!). But horses tend to eat them too quickly, which could cause digestive problems, but will more likely just cause boredom. I am a promoter of good old fashioned grass hay for horses. If you do want to supplement a small amount of alfalfa in your horse’s diet then pellets can be a good way to go.
Standlee’s products are:
I love that the company is family operated. They don’t feel like a giant corporation, they feel like a family that cares that I’m happy with my product.
I will definitely continue to purchase my beet pulp from them each winter to keep my Thoroughbred fat. I will also buy alfalfa pellets from them if I ever have time to ride enough that I feel my horses could use the extra energy in their feed. As for the compressed hay, well, I live in an area that is covered with hay fields. Hay is so easy to get here, and it’s really good hay. Hay from this area gets shipped all across the country to top racetracks and dairies because it is so nutrient rich. And it’s cheap and easy to get, so how could I justify paying $18 for 50 pounds? I couldn’t for every day use. I do have some uses in mind for it though. If I ever travel somewhere that requires certified weed free hay, I’ll pick some up. If my kids decide to show livestock in 4-H, the little bales of alfalfa will be perfect!