Changing your horse’s feed may be necessary in a number of situations, whether you are starting a new diet, exercise levels, age, health related diet, moving barns, new horse, etc.
The reason why I changed Tofino’s feed is because:
- His feed was high in starch
- He is getting older (15 yrs)
- His workload
- He was getting diarrhea
I switched from Havens to Zabeel Low Starch feed from Zabeel FeedMill about two months ago (vets orders), since he left the veterinary hospital due to his severe diarrhea. This is specifically made for horses of Tofino’s age, or those prone to Laminitis.
Now that he is stable, Cavalos Equine Care & Supplies have been kind enough to send through a couple of Reverdy Adult Specific Energy feed bags to test out, which is also low in starch. I also get his hay from Cavalos too (Timothy first cut).
The reason why I chose this specific feed is because of the following specifications:
- Energy sources selected with the aim of preventing tying ip, (high level of oils and fats and a small amount of slow releasing starch)
- The inclusion of salt encourages sufficient drinking thus ensuring correct hydratation of the body.
- Maintains the integrity of muscular cell membranes (Vitamin E at a high dose, the organic form of selenium and Omega 3s)
- The considerable tampon ability of lucerne (alfalfa) neutralises gastric acid
- The lining of the digestive system soothed by fatty acids, kaolinite and smectite form a protective film against acid secretions
- Limited gastric and intestinal fermentation (small quantity of starch, fibres to stimulated the intestinal transit and prebiotics)
- Support for the digestive flora (reinforced levels of assimilation factors)
- A reinforced level of magnesium helps to calm nervous horses and encourage a relaxed attitude.
After you make sure you select the appropriate diet your horse should be on according to his state, this is how the transition ought to occur, according to Magan.C from The Feed Room:
Day 1: 80% of old feed / 20% of new feed
Day 2: 70% of old feed / 30% of new feed
Day 3: 60% of old feed / 40% of new feed
Day 4: 50% of each
Day 5: 40% of old feed / 60% of new feed
Day 6: 30% of old feed / 70% of new feed
Day 7: 20% of old feed / 80% of new feed
Day 8: 10% of old feed / 90% of new feed
Day 9: 100% new feed
As for hay, it is also ideal to add new loads of hay gradually, especially when going from a lower-nutrient first cutting to a higher nutrient second cutting. If you do not have the opportunity to switch the hay gradually, consider soaking the hay before feeding.
Note: Changing your horses feed suddenly can upset the horses digestive system and cause colic. You have to give time for the digestive system bacteria to get used to the feed.
Feeding Tips to Remember:
- Horses at work need at least a 70-30 ratio forge being 70% of their diet, and cereals 30%.
- If your horse is doing minimal work, he can stay at a forage only diet with a forage balancer.
- Feed your horse according to his specific needs.
- Feed little and often (maximum of 1.5kg/meal).
- Measure feed accurately.
- Do not feed immediately pre or post exercise (wait an hour).
- Stick to routine.
- Provide plenty of fresh water.