Transitioning from grain to pasture only
   

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Transitioning from grain to pasture only

This is a discussion on Transitioning from grain to pasture only within the Horse Nutrition forums, part of the Horse Health category
  • Transitioning a horse from hay to grass
  • Horse gorging on grass

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    04-08-2013, 12:14 AM
  #1
Foal
Question Transitioning from grain to pasture only

My mare currently gets a 1/2 coffee can of grain daily then gets let out with free choice hay..now that spring is coming, she we be let out on 75 acres and I want to take her completely off grain..I know when you switch feeds you have to slowly switch it over so they don't colic, but is it necesary to slowly wean her off the grain or will she be okay with the free choice hay and grazing 24/7 if I just stop graining her soon?
     
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    04-08-2013, 08:45 AM
  #2
Green Broke
Just stop. You aren't giving her that much anyway.
     
    04-09-2013, 12:12 AM
  #3
Green Broke
Quote:
Originally Posted by stingerscricket    
My mare currently gets a 1/2 coffee can of grain daily then gets let out with free choice hay..now that spring is coming, she we be let out on 75 acres and I want to take her completely off grain..I know when you switch feeds you have to slowly switch it over so they don't colic, but is it necesary to slowly wean her off the grain or will she be okay with the free choice hay and grazing 24/7 if I just stop graining her soon?
Grain is not ordinarily what one has to worry about "transitioning" off of to something else as it is just "additional". It is transitioning from dry hay to pasture that takes a bit of effort. I can't tell from you post if you meant she is currently let out to free choice hay and pasture, or just the former...but if it is just free choice hay she is eating, she will need to be transitioned to pasture when the time comes.
     
    04-09-2013, 10:22 AM
  #4
Foal
Ok that makes sense Missy..she is currently on pasture with free choice hay, she is just getting let out onto more fields (the 75 acres) now.
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    04-12-2013, 03:03 AM
  #5
Trained
While I don't think it's a big problem & not vital like weaning them *onto* grain or other different feeds, I do think it's generally still best for their system to change anything gradually.

But so saying, while I don't know what a 'coffee can' equates to(they're available here in anything from about 250g to few kg caterer's tins & it depends what sort of grain as to how heavy, etc), if it's only a small quantity, and in feeding only once daily it's already less digestible & potentially problematic for her health, so I too would just stop it.
     
    04-12-2013, 10:36 AM
  #6
Banned
I fed my two horses 6 pounds a day most of riding season last year. Once we weren't riding I just quit feeding it.

They went to hay only diet never seemed to have a problem. No work no grain for my horses I feed oats there lots cheaper then other feeds.
     
    04-12-2013, 12:45 PM
  #7
Green Broke
You didn't say where you live. Where I live we have to be concerned about grass founder. This happens mostly in the Spring, but can happen ANY TIME from April to November, when it's warm enough and there's a really rainy period, and the pasture grows too quickly. It produces too many carbohydrates for a horse to digest. His body tries to rid itself of the extra sugars in the system by sweating, peeing and through the hoof. If there is too much the sugars become a toxin bc the hooves swell up and the horse founders. It can happen whenever all of the ingredients are there and the horse gets let out for a day of gorging grass.
My Vet knows that my North pasture, where they have almost daily turnout has digestable weeds and my horses nibble down the grass short enough that we both don't worry about them there. My south pasture comes in thick and lush. I give my horses no MORE than an hour on it in the Spring. They will get 24/7 turnout there after mid-June, when it stops growing so quickly.
Check your pasture and check with your Vet. If you have a dry lot, I would use that. Plan for your # bales of hay/year to use until the pasture is safe. Every year My Vet comes out for horse/dog/cat yearly stuff and reports on how many grass foundered horses she has had to treat this season.
Last Saturday, we had had a dry spell for one week. I put out hay in a dry spot, haltered and tied my horses to posts until they had eaten their usual morning feeding, then gave them a few hours on the lush pasture. As soon as they took a break from eatingI closed them out of it. They weren't gorging on the hay bc they were full before I turned them out on it. If you founder your horse on those 75 acres, you'll be kicking yourself.
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    04-12-2013, 02:09 PM
  #8
Showing
Our horses are completely off of pasture April through May. Grass founder is the reason. When I do put them back on I start them off in hours. One hour a day for a week then 2 etc. I continue to bring them back to the dry lot in the evenings and don't put them back out till the dew is off the grass all summer due to one of my girls being susceptible to scratches. I also never grain them. Not sure if your horse has health issues but if they don't, try a pure forage diet of hay/grass. Mine get a small amount of alfalfa cubes (Standlee) during the cold winter months. Then they get less than 1 lb. Of Standlee Timothy/alfalfa pellet with their supplements in the evening. Otherwise they are on grass hay only with summer pasture time.
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    04-12-2013, 04:41 PM
  #9
Foal
I am in MO and not concerned with grass founder, she is always out on pasture and gets turned out on those 75 acres every spring. She or the other 30 horses at the ranch have never foundered since I've been there(3yrs). Vidaloco she doesn't have any health issues, and having a diet with soley grass and hay is exactly what I plan to do :) Thanks for the replies, I will take her off the grain.
     
    04-12-2013, 06:50 PM
  #10
Trained
Corporal, it depends on types of grass(eg cattle fattening 'improved' rye is very high in sugar) and weather & time of day too as to how much sugars are in the grass, but it's not just in spring, or long, lush grass.

While gorging large quantities will obviously yield them more sugar, long, lush grass is typically lower than overgrazed or otherwise stressed pasture, so the really short stuff can be more problematic. Sugar levels build in plants due to photosynthesis and are used over night in growth. So generally sugars are lowest in the wee hours/early morn & highest in early evening. Frost & such shuts down growth though, so plants may retain their sugars & still be high in the morning, only to build higher levels with more sunshine.

Another common misconception is that grass is bad but hay is fine. The only difference effectively is water content. Unfortunately while hay loses a lot of nutrients with cutting, drying, storing, sugar isn't one of them. So that hay may be just as high as your 'lush' pasture if it was grown from rich grass, cut in the late arvo or on a frosty morning or such.

'Unimproved', native grasses are often lower in sugars than 'improved' varieties, so better horse feed. Like us, horses can generally handle some 'junk food' without health probs, but like us if we develop type 2 diabetes from too much junk or just calories, horses with IR or other metabolic 'diseases' are far more sensitive to any sugars, so if it isn't low NSC may need their hay soaked & drained before feeding, to leach out sugars.

So... Stingers, you may well not need worry too much, but if there is heaps of grass & horses overfeed, if they are overweight to begin with, etc, there may indeed be a concern & just because it hasn't happened yet (that you have noticed - often 'low grade' laminitis isn't recognised) doesn't mean that it won't. Just be proactive & don't wait for a problem before addressing.
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