As with humans, the food and its quality are also directly related to the general well-being of horses. In order to always be able to offer your darling the best, you might want to try the food that was recommended to you. We’ll tell you now what you need to know about changing feed in horses.
Why Change the Food at All?
If you notice that your horse cannot tolerate the current feed or you have simply been advised that another feed might be better, it is time to change the feed. This change is not always easy, because while some horses have no problem with such a change, it is difficult for others. In this case, too rapid a change can quickly lead to an imbalance in the intestinal bacteria, which can lead to diarrhea, feces, and even colic.
How to Change the Feed?
Basically, there is one important rule: take it easy! As I said, the feed is not changed overnight, because the horse’s stomach does not benefit from that. Instead, a slow, steady path should be chosen. However, this differs depending on the type of feed that you want to convert.
Roughage includes hay, straw, silage, and hayage. These are very rich in crude fiber and form the basis of horse nutrition. A change may be necessary here, for example, if you change the hay supplier or take the horse to a course. It can prove difficult for horses that are used to long, coarse hay to process finer, more energetic hay.
To make the changeover as easy as possible, it is smart to mix the old and new hay at the beginning. The new portion is slowly increased over time until a complete change has taken place.
Change From Hay to Silage or Haylage
When getting used to hay on silage or haylage, one must proceed very carefully. Since silage is made with lactic acid bacteria, too spontaneous, rapid changeover can lead to diarrhea and colic. However, silage or haylage can be essential for horses with respiratory problems and the change becomes a must.
If this is the case, proceed as follows: on the first day 1/10 silage and 9/10 hay, on the second day 2/10 silage and 8/10 hay, and so on and so on – until a complete changeover has taken place. This is the only way the horse’s stomach can slowly get used to the new feed.
Caution! It is best if the hay portion is fed first, as the horses usually prefer the silage. It also makes sense to always provide a little hay after the change. The laborious chewing of the hay stimulates digestion and saliva formation.
Here, too, the feed change should be carried out slowly. The best way to do this is to mix a few grains of the new feed into the old one and slowly increase this ration. In this way, the horse slowly gets used to it.
When you take on a new horse, it can happen that you don’t know what feed was given before. Here it is best to start slowly with concentrate and base your diet primarily on roughage in the beginning.
There are often problems when changing the mineral feed. That is why you should start with the smallest amounts and give the horse’s stomach plenty of time to get used to the new diet.
Most of the juice feed consists of pasture grass, but this can be scarce, especially in winter. In these moments, you can switch to apples, carrots, beets, and beetroot without any problems. But even here you shouldn’t change too spontaneously. It is best to let the horses out on the pasture in autumn and spring as well – nature takes care of getting used to the fresh grass all by itself. Of course, you have to be very careful when grazing in spring.
Conclusion: This is Important When Changing the Horse’s Feed
Regardless of which feed is to be changed, it is always important to proceed calmly and slowly – after all, strength lies in calm. In general, however, it can also be said that horses do not need a varied diet, but rather are creatures of habit. So if there is no valid reason, the feed does not necessarily have to be changed.