Thursday, July 15, 2010

Changing Seasons means Changing Diets

Looking at Mike's post showing how different a horse's environment can be from one season to the next is a great reminder of how very different a horse's diet may need to be from one season to the next. Forage, hay or pasture, makes up anywhere from 70 - 100% of most horse's diets. Mike's pictures show the full range of forage quality in pastures from season to season; from being just a place to buck and play in the snow during winter to providing excellent nutrition in the green grass of spring and early summer. Depending on your horse's age and activity level, what you provide for your horse in addition to pasture may change with the season as well. Sometimes this just means adjusting feed intake down a bit when the horses are transitioned from hay to pasture. Pasture will usually provide a higher level of nutrition, especially calories and a horse grazing pasture will get fatter than the same horse eating hay. For horses that are working at a moderate or high level, this may mean decreasing your current feeding rate by 1 - 3 lbs per day. Maybe you were feeding 7 lbs of Omolene 500 during the fall and winter while competing and feeding hay, but now with good pasture, you may keep the same level of work and condition by feeding 4 - 5 lbs of feed. Purina premium feeds are formulated to meet nutritional requirements when fed with good quality hay or pasture when fed at least 0.3 lbs per 100 lbs of body weight (3 lbs per day for a 1000 lb horse) of the feed. Some other feeds have higher minimum recommended feeding rates than that. If you are feeding a feed and you find that your horse is getting fat even on the minimum recommended feeding rate, then it is time to change to one of the Purina Nature's Essentials Enrich products. Enrich products are formulated to meet nutrient requirements in very low feeding rates, 1 - 2 lbs per day for most horses, so they provide the protein, vitamins and minerals without excessive calories for horses that maintain body condition on hay or pasture and little or no additional feed. The Enrich 12 is for mature horses eating good pasture or straight alflalfa hay, Enrich 32 is for younger horses still growing or any horse eating mostly grass hay or moderate quality pasture such as late summer/early fall. Another great option for horses eating good pasture that may need a little more than Enrich but can't quite eat Strategy, Omolene or Ultium without getting too fat is new Purina Strategy Healthy Edge. It is a super product for less active, easier-keepers that still need more than 1 - 2 lbs of Enrich. Purina Strategy Healthy Edge has a great nutritional balance that keeps awesome bloom and hair coat with lower calories than other Purina premium products designed for performance horses. It is a great fit for many horses, especially those that you want to keep in show shape, that do well on higher fat and lower starch, but don't need all the calories that come in a high-performance feed such as Ultium. For more information on choosing the right product for your individual horse or forage situation, go check out our Purina Feed Product Recommender at Have a great summer, enjoy the green grass while you have it!

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