Spring Feeding Tips for Your Equines
Seasoned horse owners know that you change your equines feeding habits in the winter and spring months. The warmer temperatures change their nutritional needs, and you want to ensure that your horse makes a smooth transition throughout the seasons.
Just like humans, no two horses are alike. Many will gain a few pounds over the winter months as they’re not working their bodies as much. On the other hand, some horses will lose weight due to the change in weather. Before altering their meal plans, the first consideration is to consider their body condition.
It’s always best to get a veterinarian involved when you make any changes to their feeding program. Since they know and can quickly tell if a horse is too skinny or too plump, they can advise you on what’s needed to ensure their overall health. If you don’t have a large enough scale to weigh them, there’s another option.
The Henneke Scoring System can help you to guesstimate about how much fat is currently on their body, and you can read about it by clicking on the link. Once you’ve determined the fat ratio, it’s easier to adjust their food without going overboard.
The Importance of Great Grains
Each equestrian does things differently. Some will feed them more grain in the winter to maintain their weight, while others will reduce the grain amount to keep them from gaining due to inactivity. Regardless of whether you’re going up or down with grain consumption, you need to make sure you do it slowly. Any abrupt changes to the daily intake can cause them to become sick.
When adjusting, make sure they still get the required amount of nutrients. Your horse needs the following to thrive:
Each horse has a different activity level, and their body conditions are diverse. So, an equine working in the field will need more than one who is on retirement and grazing in the sunshine. A horse that’s doing races and working will need more nutrients and grain. Keep in mind that spring grass can help your horse receive their proper nutrients, so you will need to supplement less.
Adjusting their food up or down is fine; just make sure the nutrients stay the same. When going up or down in grains, you may want to consider a high-calorie feed or a ration balancer product.
Forage is Fiber
Forge is fiber, and your horse needs this to survive. Thankfully, horses eat a lot of it. However, forge is not created equally. Some have a higher nutritional content than others. If a pasture has died off over the winter, this will significantly affect the level of forage it can provide the horse in the spring. Beet pulp is an excellent option to help supplement their diet until the grass is back to its normal state.
Thanks to April showers, the new grass that comes in is often full of sugar. So, it’s essential that you are careful and not allow them to consume too much sugar as it can cause some severe health issues, especially for older or inactive horses. If a horse has a medical condition like Cushing’s or diabetes, you must watch their intake of these fresh grasses very carefully.
A grazing muzzle can be an excellent tool if you’re trying to limit pasture intake, as it can reduce the chance of sickness and increase vet costs.
Hydration is Essential
The sun sure gets hot at midday, so your horse needs to have plenty of water during this time and all day long. They will sweat when the sun’s beating down on them, and they can quickly dehydrate. It’s also advisable to add an electrolyte supplement to their feed to help ensure they get the essential nutrients they need.
Think of how warm you get in the heat of the day, and your weight isn’t anywhere near that of a horse. Sure, they’re built differently and tough, but it’s not going to change the fact that they need plenty of water.
The Freshness of a New Season
Everyone loves the newness of spring, from animals in the barnyard to human beings. It’s refreshing to get rid of cumbersome winter clothes and horse blankets and feel the gentle breeze wash over your body. Consequently, spring is also when you must ensure you’re in proper shape and ready to withstand the temperature changes.
Just as you do in your diet when you need to take off a few pounds, you want to make any changes to your equine’s diet slowly. If you need help, your veterinarian is just a phone call away. If caring for your horse has become too much in their golden years, at Oak Haven Acres, we can ensure they have a safe place to live out their retirement. Keep us in mind for all your equine retirement needs.