Changing your horses feed/ forage.

rascal

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Was told recently that i was too fussy about taking ages to change horses feed/forage and doing it slowly was old hat and no longer applies. Is this true? Am i just being a fusspot?
 

PurBee

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In my experience it’s the wisest approach to change feeds slowly.

Mostly if the forage is being changed - forage being the largest part of their diet, if there’s a sudden change from hay to haylage, for example, different bowel bacteria are required for the switch and don’t ‘grow’ overnight to accomodate digesting the new feed well.

Equally the introduction of a pelleted hard feed of 1kg+ suddenly will cause a different requirement of bowel bacteria to accommodate the influx of large amount of new food.

I’ve just been stung by this myself with my 2 having looser stools due to changing from half grass/haylage to having 2 days only haylage no turnout onto grass, only dry lot turnout due to path to field flooded and new area being fenced to resume grazing. I thought theyd handle it as theyve been having 5kg each of haylage daily anyway....but no, its caused a bowel reaction.

Equally, in spring when they get access to more grass i have to be really strict to limit gorging, no due to high sugar, mainly due to bowel bacteria need time to adjust.

Even if we were to suddenly start eating a new food we were not used to - loads of legumes say, they require different bacteria than usual diet of meat/dairy to digest them. We’d suffer likely with bloat and a couple of different bowel movements!

I’m not the most experienced horse person, but what i’ve learnt from ‘old timers’ mostly is still valid today and holds great wisdom. Slow Food change being the most valuable.
 

Lois Lame

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Was told recently that i was too fussy about taking ages to change horses feed/forage and doing it slowly was old hat and no longer applies. Is this true? Am i just being a fusspot?
Yes it is true and no, you are not being a fusspot.

I personally don't think any of the old hat ways are passed their useby date. I know that I have read peoples' opinions that things have changed, but they haven't. It's all about... (I don't like this saying) shades of grey.
 

Lois Lame

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That's probably as clear as mud. (ETA: referring to my comment)

I'm referring to the sometimes metntioned practise of feedng before riding. I would not ride a horse who hadn't had any forage for hours.
 

Mrs G

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It’s not ‘old hat’ and definitely still applies! Ignore whoever criticised you. Having lost a horse to colic (and i myself suffer from IBS), I know how sensitive (and painful!) stomachs can be. I always try to make feed and forage changes gradually - as said, to let the gut bacteria ‘acclimatise’. While some things in the horse world have moved on and changed, the way their digestive system works hasn’t! Keep doing as you are OP; your horse will be the better for it.
 

Red-1

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I am extremely careful. I even take the last 2 bales of one batch of hay to mix with the new batch, starting with 1/4 then 2/2 then 4/1. That is even different batches of old hay, as well as old/new.

Hard feed I am less cautious, but that could be because I feed very little. Rigsby has just graduated to some speedy beet, and that did start with 1/4 mug, then 1/2 mug and he now gets 3/4 mug, which I think is enough (unsealed measure). He has that with his familiar Top Chop Zero.

He recently has Trinity Consultants' L94, he was supposed to go onto almost 100ml, but the first day and last day he had a half measure.
 

Micropony

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If there's been an update recently to HorseBowel2.0 to enable this new mode of operation of which you speak, the horses on our yard clearly haven't downloaded the software upgrade yet. They still react unfavourably to sudden changes in hay and grass quality, with some being more sensitive than others.
Must check their wifi connection, as I like the sound of HorseBowel2.0, I bet it saves rugs and bedding and all manner of tummy aches! Wonder why it's not downloading...
 

Tiddlypom

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I'm referring to the sometimes metntioned practise of feedng before riding. I would not ride a horse who hadn't had any forage for hours.
That’s an oldie that I’ve been glad to ditch too.

Not just forage restriction either. I knew of a top jumping pony in the 80s who wasn’t allowed water overnight before or before competing on a show day :oops:.

I introduce new feeds and supplements carefully.
 

Carrottom

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I would always make changes gradually where possible, for the reasons given above. However there are some circumstances where this is not possible, e.g. a fit, hard working horse receiving large quantities of high energy feed has a sudden injury - I would stop the high energy feed immediately and replace with forage. Similarly if a horse is in horspital feeding regime would change.
 

milliepops

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yes in general I agree that it's best to make changes gradually.
Like people though I think there are some more sensitive to digestive stuff than others so I don't personally have hard and fast rules, once you know a horse well you can get a picture of whether you have to be super cautious or just "normal" IME. All of mine are fine with changes of forage. OH makes it all so I know what I'm getting, there's really very little risk of big changes in that respect. I'm more careful with fresh grass than hay/lage.

Hard feed - depends on the type IMO. If I was swapping from one brand to another but where the basic ingredients and formulation was much of a muchness, I think the amount of time needed to transition is much reduced, compared to a situation where you totally change what the horse is getting. I'll swap between grass nuts and grass chaff, from one balancer to another etc without fretting too much, because before selecting each thing I'll know what I'm getting in terms of ingredients and nutritional profile and if it's pretty much the same, I don't find there's a problem with swapping. introduction of new things or upping quantities is a different story but again some are less sensitive than others.
 

Red-1

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As far as the no food before riding goes, up until September, my horses were ad lib forage, so it didn't really figure.

However, I now have a cob, so he has 4 nets a day, trickle type, but even so has some time with no forage. I time my rides for when he has been eating, not because I fear he will have ulcers (we are restricted to walk work for now anyway) but because no-one wants to ride a hangry cob!!!
 

Lois Lame

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That’s an oldie that I’ve been glad to ditch too.
I actually meant that, although I wouldn't ride a horse who hadn't been fed for hours, I still believe in the 'don't ride directly after feeding' business.

That is what I meant by shades of grey.

I'm terrible at explaining myself sometimes.
 

Widgeon

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I think that's right for old fashioned cereal based feeds, but with the forage based feed so many leisure horses have now, I believe it's quite safe to feed then ride straight away, or feed immediately after riding.
Yes, I was under the impression that a bowl of chaff before riding was actively recommended for anything that might have ulcers
 

windand rain

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I always put the last quarter of a bag of feed in the top of the new one if its the same brand. If a different brand then it is introduced slowly over a week or so. Mine only get a small yoghurt pot of feed daily it makes plenty once it is soaked to carry supplement or extra vits. They are mostly on foggage in their own fields again tiny amounts per day. If they need hay it is scattered around the foggage paddock
 

milliepops

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I think that's right for old fashioned cereal based feeds, but with the forage based feed so many leisure horses have now, I believe it's quite safe to feed then ride straight away, or feed immediately after riding.
Yep I often feed mine breakfast and ride straight after, that way I can ride before work. if I'm doing that I just leave the cereal part for a meal later in the day and she has a bowl of grass chaff/nuts while I'm getting ready.
 
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