Thursday, September 16, 2010

Transitioning a Horse from Dry Feed to Pasture

Received the following comment on a post concerning Horse Nutrition – Determining the Horses Energy Need,....Anonymous asked: "I'm moving my horse from Arizona to Tennessee. Do you have any suggestions on what I should be planning for?"

I assume you are asking about getting your horse ready for a transition from dry, baled hay to pasture grass. If so, you have the right idea, planning a transition from dry hay to pasture. Horses just cannot go from eating dry, baled hay one day to lush pasture grass the next safely without a transition.

This transition from dry hay to pasture needs to be a gradual change otherwise the change maybe so drastic as their delicate gut is stressed and colic can result.

We recently shipped a horse to Hawaii and in preparation for the 2 day trailer ride to California, then the 8 day trip via a ship to Hawaii, we found out what the horse will be fed enroute and started 4 weeks out gradually replacing increasingly larger amount of the horse's feed with alfalfa-hay pellets getting her used to the change in very small increments.

You may not be able to feed your horse lush pasture grass before you ship him off or trailer him up to Tennessee, so you'll probably have to do the feed transition once you are in Tennessee. Simply only let him eat very small amounts, then increase the time he is turned out to pasture, to give him the best chance of transitioning from dry feed to lush grass. Watch his manure when he is stalled so you can see any changes that occur as well as the amount of manure.

Depending upon the type of grass in the pasture, you may want to, or may have to supplement with natural grains, processed grains or dry alfalfa so the horse's nutritional needs are met.

I suggest talking to your horse vet about this as well as anybody you know in Tennessee who also brought their horse from a similar environment. Hope this helps and safe journey for you and your horse.

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