Rural Heritage Vet Clinic

EPSM Diet - Potential Nutritional Deficiencies

by Beth A. Valentine, DVM, PhD

The following information is provided for those who are concerned about potential nutritional deficiencies in a horse on the recommended EPSM diet:

Decreasing the amount of hay fed, in order to decrease both caloric intake and dietary carbohydrate, may possibly cause a dietary deficiency of protein. EPSM horses may require a higher level of protein to rebuild and maintain muscle mass. Alfalfa hay is therefore recommended, along with a small amount of alfalfa pellets to mix with oil and supplements. Alternatively, feed 5 pounds of alfalfa pellets and up to 13 pounds of timothy hay. Commercial diets such as Purina Strategy provide needed protein; Natural GIo does not.

Make a salt block available or add salt to the oil-pellets mixture to increase its palatability.

To date we have not seen any problems with phosphorus, which is present in hay and green grass.

Vitamin E/Selenium
For all horses, regardless of diet, we recommend a daily supplement that provides at least 1000 IU of vitamin E per day and 1 mg of selenium per day per 1,000 pounds of horse, especially in selenium-deficient areas.


Beth A. Valentine, DVM, PhD, is involved with EPSM research and other veterinary matters at the College of Veterinary Medicine, Oregon State University. She is this site's virtual vet and co-author of Draft Horses, an Owner's Manual.

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26 October 2011 last revision