In the video, Kirk Carter, a senior equine specialist with Nutrena feeds, provides tips on how to safely transition your horse’s feed. He starts by explaining the importance of adjusting the horse’s diet based on its calorie needs, especially during the winter when horses burn more calories to stay warm. Kirk suggests transitioning from a high-calorie and high-fat feed, like Pro For Senior, to Nutrena’s Safe Choice Original, which has the same protein content but less fat and calories. He shares a chart outlining a gradual seven-day transition process, starting with feeding 75% of the current feed and 25% of the new feed, and gradually increasing the percentage of the new feed until day seven when it becomes 100%. Kirk also mentions the importance of considering external factors, like weather changes and the horse’s environment, to ensure a smooth transition. He advises avoiding transitions during cold, rainy or stormy weather, as these factors can potentially cause gastrointestinal upset. Kirk demonstrates how to weigh the feed using a scale and provides a feeding guide based on the horse’s weight. He also offers alternative feeding options if you don’t have the old feed available. For more information, you can visit Nutrena’s website at www.nutrena.com.

Table of Contents

Understanding the Need for Transitioning Horse Feed

When it comes to horses’ diets, it’s important to understand that their nutritional needs can vary depending on the season and their workload. Transitioning horse feed is necessary to ensure that the horse’s diet meets their changing requirements. In this article, we will explore the different needs in a horse’s diet seasonally and the impact of their workload on the choice of feed. We will also dive into how the protein and fat content in feed influence the horse’s health and weight.

The different needs in a horse’s diet seasonally

Horses have different nutritional needs throughout the year due to variations in temperature and activity levels. During the colder months, horses require more calories to maintain their body temperature and energy levels. As a result, a feed with higher fat content is ideal for winter feeding. In the summer, when temperatures rise, horses may need less fat and more hydration. Understanding these seasonal changes is crucial in selecting the right feed for your horse’s specific needs.

The impact of a horse’s workload on the choice of feed

A horse’s workload also plays a significant role in determining their nutritional requirements. Horses that are in light work or are primarily used for leisurely trail rides have different energy needs compared to horses in intense training or competitive disciplines. The type and amount of feed should be adjusted accordingly to provide the necessary fuel and nutrients for the level of activity a horse is engaged in. Failure to meet these requirements can lead to weight loss, decreased performance, and even health issues.

How protein and fat content in feed influence the horse’s health and weight

Protein and fat are essential components of a horse’s diet, and their content in feed can greatly impact a horse’s health and weight. Protein is crucial for muscle development and repair, as well as supporting various bodily functions. The appropriate protein content in feed can ensure a horse’s well-being and overall condition. On the other hand, fat is an excellent energy source that provides more calories per gram than carbohydrates or protein. By adjusting the fat content in feed, you can manage a horse’s weight and energy levels more effectively.

Selecting the Right New Feed

Now that we understand the different nutritional needs of horses based on the season and workload, it is crucial to select the right feed to meet those requirements. This section will focus on understanding the nutritional composition of different feeds, choosing the right feed based on the horse’s condition and requirements, and the various factors to consider when selecting a new feed.

Understanding the nutritional composition of different feeds

When selecting a new feed for your horse, it is vital to understand the nutritional composition of the options available. Different feeds have varying amounts of protein, fat, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Examining the nutrient profile can help you determine if a particular feed aligns with your horse’s specific needs. Pay attention to the guaranteed analysis listed on the feed label, which outlines the minimum percentages of key nutrients.

Choosing the right feed based on the horse’s condition and requirements

The choice of feed should be based on the horse’s individual condition and requirements. Factors such as age, weight, breed, and any existing health conditions should all be taken into consideration. For example, a senior horse may need a feed with higher protein and fat content to support their aging body. Consult with a veterinarian or equine nutritionist for guidance in selecting the most appropriate feed for your horse’s specific needs.

Factors to consider when selecting a new feed

Aside from the horse’s condition and requirements, several other factors must be considered when selecting a new feed. These include the horse’s activity level, the availability and cost of the feed, any potential allergies or sensitivities, and personal preferences. It is also essential to evaluate the reputation and reliability of the feed manufacturer to ensure that you are providing your horse with a safe and high-quality product.

The Transition Process Explained

Transitioning from one feed to another should be done gradually to prevent any gastrointestinal upset or disruptions to the horse’s digestion. This section will provide an overview of the transition period, explain the recommended seven-day transition process, and discuss how to proportion the old and new feed across different days.

Overview of the transition period

The transition period refers to the duration during which the horse’s feed is gradually changed from the old feed to the new feed. It allows the horse’s digestive system to adapt to the new feed without causing any stress or discomfort. A gradual transition is necessary to minimize the risk of digestive upset and maintain the horse’s overall health.

Explanation of a seven-day transition period

The recommended length for a transition period is typically seven days. This duration allows for a slow and steady adjustment, giving the horse’s digestive system ample time to adapt. Rushing the transition can increase the risk of gastrointestinal disturbances and may lead to colic or other health issues. Taking it step by step ensures a smoother transition and reduces the likelihood of any adverse effects.

Proportioning old and new feed across different days

During the seven-day transition period, the proportion of old and new feed gradually changes to shift the horse’s diet. On days one and two, it is recommended to feed the horse 75% of the old feed and only 25% of the new feed. This gradual introduction allows the horse’s digestive system to get accustomed to the new feed without overwhelming it. Over the next few days, the proportions change, with days three and four consisting of a 50-50 ratio of old and new feed. Days five and six drop the old feed to 25% and increase the new feed to 75%. By day seven, the transition is complete, and the horse can be fed 100% of the new feed.

Planning your Transition Based on the Weather

When transitioning horse feed, it is essential to consider the weather conditions during the process. Weather factors can affect the horse’s transition, and providing a stable environment is crucial to minimize stress and digestive disturbances. This section will discuss the weather factors to consider, the importance of a stable environment during the feed transition, and best practices for navigating unpredictable weather during the transition period.

Weather factors that can affect the transition

Cold weather, rainy weather, and storms can all influence how a horse adapts to a feed transition. It is advisable to choose a time for the transition when the weather is more predictable and moderate. Extreme cold can stress the horse’s system, and wet conditions can increase the risk of colic or other digestive issues. By considering the weather forecast, you can select a period when the environmental factors are least likely to disrupt the transition process.

Why a stable environment is important during feed transition

A stable environment is essential during the feed transition to minimize stress and maintain the horse’s overall well-being. Moving a horse to a new environment or exposing them to unfamiliar surroundings during the transition can result in behavioral changes and potentially impact their digestion. Stability and routine are crucial for a smooth transition, ensuring that the horse feels comfortable and secure.

Best practices for transitioning during unpredictable weather

Transitioning horse feed during unpredictable weather requires extra care and attention. If the weather takes a turn for the worse, it may be necessary to postpone the transition until conditions improve. By monitoring the weather forecast and keeping an eye on any sudden changes, you can ensure that the horse’s transition remains uninterrupted. In cases where unexpected weather patterns occur, it may be beneficial to consult with a veterinarian or equine nutritionist for guidance on navigating the transition successfully.

Practical Steps for Day 1 and 2 of Transition

The first two days of the feed transition are crucial for setting the foundation for a successful adjustment. This section will outline the practical steps for these initial days, including arranging the feed portions, emphasizing the importance of feed measurements, and offering guidance on adjusting portion sizes based on a horse’s dietary needs.

Arranging the feed portions: 75% old feed and 25% new feed

During the first two days of the transition period, it is recommended to feed the horse a mixture of 75% old feed and 25% new feed. This proportion gradually introduces the new feed while still providing familiarity with the old feed. By starting with a higher percentage of the old feed, the horse’s digestive system can ease into the transition process, reducing the risk of digestive upset.

Importance of feed measurements during transition

Accurate feed measurements are crucial during the transition period to ensure that the horse receives the appropriate amounts of both the old and new feed. Weighing the feed using a scale is the most precise method, as it eliminates any guesswork or variation caused by scooping or estimating. Knowing the exact weight of each feed portion allows for consistency and better control over the transition process.

How to adjust portion sizes based on a horse’s dietary needs

It is essential to adjust the portion sizes of both the old and new feed based on the horse’s dietary needs. Factors such as the horse’s weight, age, and activity level should all be taken into consideration. For example, a horse in light work may require smaller portions of feed compared to a horse in intense training. Consult with a veterinarian or equine nutritionist to determine the appropriate portion sizes for your horse’s specific requirements.

Managing Days 3 and 4 of Transition

As the feed transition progresses, the proportions of old and new feed begin to shift. Days three and four mark an important stage in the process. This section will cover how to shift to a 50-50 ratio of old and new feed, the continued monitoring and measurement of feed portions, and addressing potential changes in horse behavior or health during this period.

Shifting to a 50-50 ratio of old and new feed

On days three and four of the transition period, the proportion of old and new feed should be balanced evenly at a 50-50 ratio. This equal distribution allows the horse’s digestive system to gradually adapt to the new feed while still providing familiarity through the old feed. It is crucial to make this adjustment smoothly and without any sudden changes to minimize the risk of digestive disturbances.

Continuing monitoring and measurement of feed portions

Throughout the transition process, it is vital to continue monitoring and measuring the feed portions accurately. By maintaining consistency in portion sizes, you can ensure that the horse’s dietary needs are being met and that the transition remains controlled and gradual. Regularly weighing the feed using a scale provides the most accurate measurements, enabling you to make any necessary adjustments to the portion sizes.

Addressing potential changes in horse behavior or health

As the feed transition progresses, it is not uncommon for a horse to exhibit changes in behavior or experience slight fluctuations in health. These changes can be a result of the adjustment period and should be closely monitored. If any significant or concerning changes occur, such as a loss of appetite or signs of discomfort, it is advisable to consult with a veterinarian to address and resolve any potential issues promptly.

Navigating Days 5 and 6 of Transition

Days five and six of the feed transition bring about further adjustments to the feed proportions. This section will focus on moving towards a predominantly new feed usage, observing the adjustment process in the horse, and understanding the significance of the 75% new feed and 25% old feed ratio during this stage.

Moving towards predominant new feed usage

On days five and six, the feed proportions should transition to a predominantly new feed usage. It is recommended to feed the horse 75% new feed and only 25% old feed during this stage. The increased percentage of new feed allows the horse’s digestive system to become more accustomed to the new feed, gradually reducing the reliance on the old feed.

Observing the adjustment process in the horse

Throughout the transition period, it is essential to closely observe the horse for any signs of discomfort or behavioral changes. Days five and six are particularly crucial for monitoring the horse’s adjustment to the new feed. Look for signs of increased energy, improved appetite, and general well-being to assess the horse’s response to the transition. Any significant deviations from normal behavior should be addressed promptly to ensure the horse’s comfort and health.

Understanding the significance of 75% new feed and 25% old feed ratio

The 75% new feed and 25% old feed ratio during days five and six plays an essential role in minimizing digestive disturbances and aiding in the horse’s transition. By this stage, the horse’s digestive system should be more adapted to the new feed, allowing for a smoother adjustment process. However, it is crucial not to rush the transition and give the horse’s body enough time to fully acclimate.

Completing the Feed Transition by Day 7

By day seven, the feed transition should be complete, and the horse should be consuming 100% of the new feed. This section will cover the final steps of the transition process, including moving to 100% new feed, detecting and dealing with possible complications, and monitoring the horse’s adaptation to the new feed.

Moving to 100% new feed

On day seven, it is time to completely switch to the new feed and feed the horse 100% of the new feed. By this stage, the horse’s digestive system should be fully adapted to the new feed, and any residual reliance on the old feed should be eliminated. Gradually increasing the proportion of new feed over the previous days allows for a smooth transition without causing any significant disruptions.

Detecting and dealing with possible complications

Throughout the transition process, it is crucial to be vigilant for any possible complications. While most horses transition smoothly without any issues, there is always the potential for digestive disturbances or other health problems. Common signs of complications include a loss of appetite, changes in manure consistency, colic symptoms, or changes in behavior. If any of these complications arise, it is essential to consult with a veterinarian to address and resolve them promptly.

Monitoring the horse’s adaptation to the new feed

After completing the feed transition, it is important to continue monitoring the horse’s adaptation to the new feed. Observe the horse’s overall health, energy levels, body condition, and appetite to ensure that the new feed is meeting their nutritional needs adequately. Remember that every horse is unique, and individual adjustments may be necessary to optimize their diet and well-being.

Handling Feed Transition in Special Circumstances

In certain circumstances, the old feed may not be readily available or other factors may complicate the feed transition process. This section will provide guidance on what to do when the old feed isn’t available, tips for breaking up feed servings throughout the day, and how to ensure a smooth transition in unusual situations.

What to do when the old feed isn’t available

If the old feed is unavailable during a feed transition, it can complicate the process. In this case, it is important to switch to the new feed gradually and monitor the horse’s response closely. Start with smaller portions of the new feed and gradually increase it according to the recommended proportions for each day of the transition period. Pay attention to the horse’s digestion and overall well-being to ensure a smooth transition without any adverse effects.

Tips for breaking up feed servings throughout the day

In situations where it is possible to feed the horse multiple times throughout the day, breaking up feed servings can be beneficial, especially during the transition period. Smaller, more frequent meals help ease the horse’s digestion and prevent any potential overload. Divide the total daily feed portion into several smaller servings and provide them at regular intervals. This approach supports a smoother transition and reduces the risk of digestive disturbances.

How to ensure a smooth transition in unusual situations

Unusual situations, such as traveling or changes in stabling arrangements, can complicate the feed transition process. In such cases, it is crucial to prioritize stability and routine as much as possible. Minimize additional stressors, maintain consistent feeding times and locations, and pay close attention to any changes in the horse’s behavior or health. If necessary, consult with a veterinarian or equine nutritionist for specific recommendations tailored to the unique circumstances.

Conclusion

Proper feed transitioning is crucial for maintaining a horse’s health, well-being, and performance. By understanding the different needs in a horse’s diet seasonally, the impact of their workload on the choice of feed, and how protein and fat content influence their health and weight, you can make informed decisions regarding their nutrition. Selecting the right new feed, planning the transition process based on the weather, and following practical steps for each day of the transition will ensure a smooth and successful adjustment. Stay vigilant, monitor the horse’s adaptation, and consult with professionals when needed to optimize their nutrition and overall care.