You may be thinking your horse might be in need of a senior diet, or perhaps there is a new feed available that you believe is even better for your horse. Maybe you are no longer happy with your current feed. Or, your dealer no longer carries the product you were using. Whatever the reason, switching your horse to a new feed is a change that requires care and know-how.
Changes to feed, pasture or hay in general should be made over a 7 day period, gradually increasing the new and decreasing the old. For example:
Day 1: 80% of old feed / 20% of new feed
Day 2: 70% of old feed / 30% of new feed
Day 3: 60% of old feed / 40% of new feed
Day 4: 50% of each
Day 5: 40% of old feed / 60% of new feed
Day 6: 30% of old feed / 70% of new feed
Day 7: 20% of old feed / 80% of new feed
Moving from a feed higher in Non-Structural Carbohydrates (NSC) to one that is lower can be done relatively easily by following the instructions above. If you are moving your horse from a ‘low’ NSC feed to one that is higher in NSC, feed changes should happen over at least the 7 days recommended above, if not longer.
Research has indicated that horses fed pre and probiotics are better able to handle changes in diet than horses that are not.
Changes in hay, though generally not given much consideration, can have as much of an impact if not more than changes in feed. If possible, try to follow the same steps as above when transitioning your hay. Hay that is harvested from the same field, but in different cuttings will likely vary in nutritional content. Hay testing is available from many University Extension offices. Check with your area extension office for more information.