horse feed

Will Changing Feeds Cause My Horse to Colic?

A sudden change in diet, including grain, hay and pasture, can lead to colic. When making dietary changes, they must be made gradually to ensure the microbial population in your horse’s hindgut has sufficient time to adjust.  Unfortunately, horse has the most poorly designed digestive system out of any animal, which makes them highly susceptible to health problems related to diet and dietary changes, including colic. However, there are simple steps you can take to prevent this from occurring. But, first, it’s important to understand why rapid feed changes can cause colic. What happens when I change my horse’s diet too quickly? If your horse’s digestive system is exposed to a new diet suddenly, it can lead to a sudden growth of bacteria that are needed to break down the new feed. This, in turn changes the balance of good and bad bacteria (a bit like inner health plus… in the hindgut, which can result in a severe bout of colic. Instead, when making any dietary changes, new grain, hay or pasture should be introduced over 1-2 weeks. How should I change grain? At certain times of year, you may need to change the commercial horse feed your horse consumes. For example, when preparing them for competition. To make this change safely, you should replace approximately 25% of their current feed with their new feed every other day. This should also be done when changing “batches” of hay from the same suppliers. How should I change hay or pasture?  While there are published studies on changing commercial grain-based horse feeds, we recommend you follow a similar rule of thumb as outlined above when introducing new hay. Simply replace approximately 25% of your horse’s hay ration with their new hay every other day. Turnout to a new pasture can be dangerous, particularly during the transition from Winter to Spring, (as explained in this article). Turnout should start with one hour per day in the early morning and increased in half hour increments each day following. When making dietary changes, you should consider consulting your veterinarian or a qualified equine nutritionist. If you notice any changes in manure output, such as diarrhoea, seek advice from a Veterinarian.

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5 Reasons Your Horse Needs Water During Summer

Did you know there are six nutrients every horse requires in its diet – carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins, minerals and water – yet, water is often the most forgotten? In this article we discuss five reasons why horses needs water, especially during Summer.  Horses consume 22-55 litres of water per day  This amount may only go up when the weather is hot and humid. Water is the vital nutrient that keeps any living thing functioning. During Summer and following intense exercise, the need for water increases to remain hydrated and assist in maintaining core body temperature. Commercial feeds and baled hay lack moisture  Depending on where you live, your pastures may be affected by drought this season, which leaves your horse relying on grains and roughage. Fresh pasture usually contains between 60-80% moisture, whereas commercial feeds and baled hay provide far less to your horse. Horses can lose up to 10L of water in sweat per hour  During intense exercise, your horse can lose large quantities of water and electrolytes in their sweat, which must be replaced. If the weather is warm enough, horses standing idle in the paddock are also at risk of dehydration if left without shade and fresh water supplies. Health problems can impact water consumption  Fluid loss is common in horses with diarrhoea and chronic kidney disease. This will need to be compensated by providing these horses with additional water to not only keep them hydrated, but also to facilitate recovery. Lactating mares have higher water requirements  Finally, the demands placed on your mare’s body to produce milk for her nursing foal are high, with lactating mares often needing up to 80% more water than other horses. Ensure she also receives a well-balanced, forage-first diet to support her and her growing foal. 

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Psyillium Husks

Should I feed my horse psyllium husks?

Derived from the husk of the psyllium seed, commercial psyllium products are promoted as aids to eliminate sand from the horse’s digestive system. However, numerous studies into the effectiveness of psyllium husks have uncovered some findings worth exploring. Regardless of where you live, your horse will ingest dirt and sand each day when grazing and eating directly from the ground. This increases the risk of sand colic, where dirt and sand build up within the digestive system, leading to potentially severe digestive upset, such as impaction. While feeding psyllium husks is not harmful to your horse, several studies indicate that long-term use reduces its efficiency to rid your horse’s digestive tract of dirt and sand build-up. Instead, microbes in the bowel start to ingest psyllium husks as a fiber source. Consulting your veterinarian is an important first step in determining whether you should feed psyllium husks and how much your horse requires. There are a number of clinical tests your veterinarian is also able to perform if you have concerns about sand ingestion. However, like most health problems, prevention is certainly better than cure. Anywhere there is sand, decomposed granite, or gravel, the risks of sand colic increase. Similarly, soft footing areas in paddocks and arenas can lead to sand ingestion. To protect your horse from the risk of sand colic, you should: Do you have questions about your horse’s diet? Call us today on (07) 4511 4554 to speak with one of our qualified veterinarians about a diet consultation for your horse. Click here to learn more about our nutrition and diet services.

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Do I need to feed my horse supplements?

Many horses lead healthy lives without supplements, but for those in training or competition, supplements may be useful for several reasons. If you’re considering giving a supplement to your horse, it’s important to consider a few questions before purchase.  Firstly, let’s consider what a supplement is. A dietary supplement should be non-toxic, with demonstrated health benefits. Supplements usually contain one or more of the following ingredients: Vitamins Minerals Herb or botanical additives Amino acid They are used for one of two reasons. The first is to assist in the prevention of deficiencies. These include vitamins, minerals and electrolytes. The second is to improve performance. These include calming agents, joint and muscle supplements, and blood tonics. Many pleasure horses thrive on a nutritionally balanced, forage-first diet, with vaccinations, dental and hoof care kept up to date. However, for those performance horses in high intensity training or competition, they may require a supplement at some point in their career. Choosing a supplement If you’re considering a supplement that makes any claim, the product should be registered with the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority. It should also bear a National Registration Authority registration number and the state in which it’s registered. However, before you make the decision to purchase, you should consider these questions: What does it contain? The supplement should have a list of ingredients clearly visible. Why does my horse need it? Consider what you hope to achieve and if this is realistic. How does it work? You should be aware of what the ingredients will do to your horse. Can I afford it? If price point is a factor, be mindful of which is the best product for your horse. Is it designed for horses? Any product not designed for horses is unsafe to use. Will it swab? If you compete, select a product that is safe and won’t swab. 

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My horse has broken into the feed shed and eaten everything. What should I look for?

The first step is to call your veterinarian immediately to determine what course of action needs to be taken. Overeating can lead to colic and laminitis, while consuming feeds not intended for horses can be fatal. Your veterinarian will be able to advise you on what to do.  Firstly, if your horse has consumed a large quantity of horse feed, you need to very cautious about an onset of colic or laminitis. Colic is a general term describing stomach discomfort or pain. You must watch your horse carefully for changes in behaviour and closely monitor their vital signs. The common signs of colic are:  Pawing at the ground Looking around at the flank Frequently laying down and getting up Rolling Curling the upper lip Increased heart rate or breathing rate Excessive sweating around the flanks or shoulders Laminitis causes severe pain in the hooves and may be evidenced by lameness, unwillingness to move, slow movement or lying down for long periods. You should closely monitor your horse’s vital signs, and check their hooves for a bounding digital pulse or heat that doesn’t dissipate. Secondly, if your horse has consumed any feed intended for other animals, you should find the feed bag and read the ingredients to your veterinarian. Some of these feeds contain additives or medications that are potentially deadly to horses. Depending on the quantity and type of feed your horse has consumed, your veterinarian will be able to assess the severity of the situation. If you notice any unusual changes in your horse’s vital signs, or suspect colic or laminitis, call your veterinarian immediately.

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My horse ate chicken feed. Is he going to be okay?

I was feeding my horses this morning when I realized that one of them had gotten into the chicken feed- this is a common call we get as Equine Veterinarians. If your horse ate chicken feed, it is important to take action immediately. Chicken feed can be dangerous for horses and can cause serious health problems if left untreated. Symptoms of chicken feed poisoning in horses can include colic, diarrhea, and lethargy. If you notice any of these symptoms, it is important to call your vet immediately. Chicken food does not get processed the same way horse feed does and the chicken digestive tract can grind food and tolerate mold and mycotoxins far better than horses can. Often chicken food is completely grain also, which can produce colic, diarrhea, and laminitis in horses. But alternatively chicken can eat horse feed and if you want to read more about it here is a good article on It. Assessing the Situation When you find out that your horse has eaten chicken feed, it’s essential to assess the situation carefully. As a horse owner, it’s natural to be concerned about your horse’s well-being. Here are some things to consider: What to Look For First, check the label on the chicken feed to see what ingredients are listed. If the feed contains any harmful substances, it’s essential to take immediate action. Next, assess the amount of chicken feed your horse has eaten. If it’s a small amount, your horse may be okay, but if it’s a large amount, it could be dangerous. Ring your veterinarian immediately if you think it has consumed more than 2-5 kgs for an adult full-sized horse. Symptoms of Chicken Feed Poisoning Watch your horse closely for any signs of poisoning. Symptoms of chicken feed poisoning can include: If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s essential to call a veterinarian immediately. Treatment Options After discovering that your horse ate chicken feed here are the treatment options: Home Remedies If your horse only ate a small amount of chicken feed, you can try some home remedies. First, remove any remaining chicken feed from your horse’s reach. Then, offer your horse plenty of fresh water to help flush out any toxins. You can also offer hay or grass to help dilute the chicken feed in your horse’s stomach. Keep an eye on your horse for any signs of discomfort or illness. When to Call a Vet If your horse ate a large amount of chicken feed or shows any signs of illness or discomfort, it’s important to call a vet immediately. Signs of illness can include colic, diarrhea, lethargy, or loss of appetite. The vet may recommend further treatment, such as administering activated charcoal or intravenous fluids. What to Expect from a Vet Visit During a vet visit, the vet will examine your horse and ask about the amount of chicken feed ingested. The vet may take blood samples or perform other tests to check for any signs of toxicity or illness. Treatment options may include administering activated charcoal to absorb toxins, administering intravenous fluids to prevent dehydration, or providing medication to alleviate symptoms. The vet may also recommend monitoring your horse’s condition for several days after the incident to ensure a full recovery. They may also suggest you keep an eye on your horses feet and their temperature. If the feet become hot the treatment is to give them foot ice baths for 15 minutes every hour for sometimes 48 hours to prevent laminitis from occuring. Preventing Chicken Feed Poisoning Storing Chicken Feed As a responsible horse owner, I know that proper storage of chicken feed is crucial to prevent my horse from eating it. I store my chicken feed in a secure, airtight container that is labeled clearly. This helps to prevent accidental ingestion of chicken feed by my horse. I make sure to always keep the container out of reach of my horse and other animals. Alternative Feeding Options If you are concerned about your horse accidentally ingesting chicken feed, you can consider alternative feeding locations or different food for your poultry. There are many different types of feed available that are specifically formulated and safer for horses if they accidentally eat some. You can talk to your veterinarian or a qualified equine nutritionist to determine the best feeding options for your horse. By following these simple steps, you can help ensure that your horse does not accidentally ingest chicken feed or other harmful substances. Taking these precautions can help keep your horse healthy and happy. Read More About Horse Feeding Topics

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Horse Health: The Spring Health Check

As the seasons change from Winter to Spring, it’s an ideal time to review your horse’s health with your veterinarian. With Spring comes a more active riding and competition schedule, and an assessment of your horse will help to maximise their performance. Our veterinarians are an excellent resource for advice on all aspects of horse management, including preventative medicine, nutrition, body condition, behavioural problems and hoof care. Use Spring to treat your whole horse to gain the most out of the warmer months.  Health Care  Before the busy season begins, a physical examination by your veterinarian will give your horse the best start to an increasing workload. Not only will your vet be able to identify any issues that may affect your horse, but you can also discuss nutritional and training strategies. Vaccination and parasite control are central to your horse’s health. The threat of parasites and biting insects increases as the weather warms, so the start of Spring is the perfect time to protect your horse with vaccinations, de-worming and a faecal egg count. Hoof Care Spring brings many challenges to your horse’s hooves, particularly if they’re kept in soggy or muddy conditions for prolonged periods of time. Thrush and hoof abscesses are common in the wet. A consultation with your vet will aid treatment and prevention. If your horse is encountering any hoof problems in hand or under saddle that relate to shoeing or trimming, it’s important that you resolve these issues well ahead of travel and competitions. Your veterinarian will be able to offer advice on the hoof care solution your horse needs. Nutrition Finally, adequate nutrition and pasture management play a massive role in your horse’s health, energy and immunity. The transition from Winter to Spring can leave your horse susceptible to acute and chronic conditions, like colic or laminitis, if diet changes aren’t managed correctly. Likewise, incorrect feed storage, resulting in contamination by vermin or mouldy hay, can have devastating consequences for your horse. Seek advice from your veterinarian about your horse’s nutritive requirements and safe storage practices on your property.

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Feeding Your Horse During Winter

As the temperature drops, the demands on your horse’s body to stay warm increase. Adding more forage – in the form of hay or pasture – can support your horse during Winter, but there are risks associated with this higher intake.  To maintain a healthy body condition, the average horse needs to consume 2% of its body weight per day. Forage sources, such as hay or pasture, should form the bulk of your horse’s feed ration, as they’re a better source of concentrated fibre than grains. Fibre is the most important ingredient in the horse’s diet. It provides your horse with the essential energy they need. During Winter, fibre has an added benefit. The digestion of fibre produces body heat, which helps to keep your horse warm. For some horses, such as young horses, broodmares and older horses, the cold temperatures can take a toll on maintaining body condition. For other horses kept in work, their energy requirements increase. Additional forage may be added to their diet to support a healthy body condition. However, with this increase in forage, comes the risk of impaction colic and there are three common causes: Dehydration – Horses may drink less water during the cooler months, especially if they’re not exercised regularly. Dehydration is the leading cause of impaction as fluids assist in digestion. to prevent impaction colic, you should keep your horse hydrated throughout Winter. Feed changes – Rapid changes in feed, such as changing hay or grain types, can also lead to impaction colic. Any change in your horse’s diet should be made over a period of several weeks to give your horse’s digestive system time to adjust. Lack of exercise – Freedom of movement is vital to your horse’s physical and mental health. During Winter, turnout and exercise shouldn’t be limited, unless absolutely necessary, due to severe weather, illness or injury.  

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