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Spring Feeding for your Horse

Posted on 25 September 2016

Everyone anticipates the joy of Spring. 

The realization that  the long harsh winter is gradually changing into the pleasures of spring and then SUMMER!

Along with the warmer temperatures, expect changes to the condition of the pastures. Grass is changing to a greener appearance & will contain a healthier nutritional value. These changes require changes to the way we feed our horses.

Grass is approximately 85% water, helping your horse stay hydrated. Grass is high in protein & has large amounts of Vitamin E & Magnesium for continued health.

After a long winter, controlling the consumption of new green pasture can limit exposure to toxins that can cause behavioral problems.

Problems: Controlling the consumption of new green grass when returning to pasture after a long winter.

  1. Horses eat faster & more in the
  2. Sugar levels of Spring grasses are higher
  3. Laminitis occurs

Solutions:

  1. Good management practices keep sugar levels
  2. Slow, steady introduction to pasture. For horses with past laminitis issues, 15 minutes a day for a week, then 30 minutes a  day  for  week,  increasing  each  week  until     4 hours a day is reached (for normal horses, 30 minutes a day for a week, 60 minutes a day for a week, etc). At 4 hours a day, see if they’re holding in the normal range. Many horses cannot go over 4-6 hours in the Spring, but  in the Summer can go  8-10 hours.
  3. Feed hay or alternative feed prior to turnout. Continual hay lowers Insulin, protects feet.
  4. Turnout in the early morning (5:00-8:00 am) in the  gradual steps as sugar levels in grass are low at this time  of day. Avoid afternoon turnout as the sunlight raises carbohydrates (sugars) in the grass.
  5. Exercise lowers Insulin, increases muscle & circulation.
  6. Night-time turnout (after 9:00 pm) allows your horse more time in the pasture. Night time sees lower sugars in the grass than afternoon grass.
  7. Change paddocks if grass being eaten to lower than 4”. Shorter grass has more sugars.
  8. In Spring, do not turn out onto new grass. It’s very high in sugar & you may destroy the roots, making the pasture quality lower. Grass ideally should be 6-8 inches, established prior to turnout.
  9. Supplement with Vitamin E. Vitamin E helps the immune system & is an anti-inflammatory.
  10. Consider PERFORMANCE BOOSTER as a prebiotic during Spring to support the hindgut & assist in feed concersion
  11. Water moves food through the gut quicker, which further helps in Insulin control. Always have an ample fresh supply.
  12. Feet grow quickly on pasture, so routine farrier care is essential. SPEEDI-BEET is an approved feed by the Laminitis Trust. Feet may need trimming more frequently than in winter.
  13. Spring is the time to have your vet check do the annual check & vaccinate.

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