The transition from pasture to stable

Most horses and ponies are heading back to their stables, which presents various challenges in terms of nutrition.
Horse in stable

It's September and autumn is coming! Most ponies are heading back towards the stables and in terms of nutrition, this presents different challenges;

  1. Less grass and more dried roughage

  2. The summer coat is replaced by the winter coat

  3. Foals are weaned

1. Less grass and more dried roughage
Hopefully we will get to enjoy a nice Indian summer this year, but the moment of stabling the ponies is coming. The ponies will have to get used to this as well as the change to a different ration. Going to the stable also means replacing grass with dried roughage, such as hay or silage.

1.1 Slow transition
Switching from grass to hay, as well as switching to a new supply of roughage, involves a major change in the digestive system of ponies. Let the transition from grass to hay be gradual, as is the transition between different batches of roughage, so that you reduce the risk of digestive problems. The bacterial flora in the blind and large intestines is a complex system, living off food that has not been digested in the small intestine. Does the composition of this food change? Then the system changes with it. Therefore, we recommend starting supplementary feeding of hay or silage 3 to 4 weeks before the ponies go to the stable, so that the ponies can get used to the dried roughage.

1.2 Ensure good quality forage
You can judge roughage by sight, but to make sure the roughage contains enough nutrients, it is best to have the roughage analysed. Then choose a concentrate that best suits the quality of the forage and the ponies' working intensity or life stage, so that the ponies stay in good condition during the stabling period. Build up the amount of concentrate feed slowly to allow the ponies' digestive systems to get used to it.

1.3 Prevent colic
Changing weather conditions and fluctuations in temperature combined with the transition from grass to hay require adjustments to the gastrointestinal system and can increase the risk of digestive problems. With a drastic drop in temperature, ponies tend to drink less. In addition, hay contains less water than grass, so they get less fluid. Make sure ponies keep drinking well.

2. The summer coat is replaced by the winter coat
Now that summer is over, ponies start to create their winter coat. There are two main factors that play a role in your horse's shedding; the amount of light and the temperature. The extent to which ponies shed varies by breed. Breeds that originally live in cold areas develop a much thicker coat than ponies originally from warmer countries.
As shedding takes energy, it is common for ponies to be less energetic and fit and more prone to ailments during this period. Fortunately, there are some simple measures you can take to help ponies during this period.

2.1. Brushing ponies
Extensive brushing not only gives your ponies a nice massage, it also helps with shedding. Brushing ensures good blood flow to the skin, making the coat loosen better.

2.2. Nice exercise
Exercise improves blood flow, which is an important factor in shedding. Exercise is also important for the digestive system, so good exercise is very important, especially during the shedding period.

2.3. Vitamin boost
Shedding costs ponies a lot of energy and the whole shedding process can sometimes be laborious. This may be because the ponies do not have enough of their own vitamin B. Therefore, give the ponies an extra vitamin boost, for example EquiFirst Vitamin Support. EquiFirst Vitamin Support provides an extra dose of vitamins to support the ponies' resistance and ensures smooth shedding and shiny coats.

2.4. Omega fatty acids
Omega fatty acids ensure healthy skin and coat. These omega fatty acids are found in grass and linseed, among others. EquiFirst Linamix® contains plenty of linseed. Linseed is a natural source of omega 3 fatty acids. A ration supplemented with extra omega 3 fatty acids supports health on several fronts. For example, fertility, reduction of allergic reactions and skin and coat quality. Besides linseed, Linamix® also contains inulin (a prebiotic) via chicory. Inulin is a prebiotic consisting of specific carbohydrates (FOS - fructo-oligosaccharides) that feed the intestinal bacteria, thereby influencing the growth and activity of these bacteria thus promoting and/or maintaining intestinal health. Do you want to support ponies when shedding? Then brush the ponies well, ensure sufficient exercise and, where necessary, give a vitamin boost with EquiFirst Vitamin Support and/or extra linseed with EquiFirst Linamix®.

3. Foals being weaned
Now that the end of the grazing season is in sight, it is time for many foals to be weaned. It is important that foals eat enough foal feed at the time of weaning to prevent them from losing too much condition. But above all, do not give too much concentrate while weaning. Irregular or too fast growth of foals can have a negative influence on healthy and strong legs. In fact, apart from heredity, exercise and nutrition also influence the development of OC(D).

The ration of weaned foals is best made up of unlimited roughage with concentrate. The gastrointestinal tract of foals is still developing. The development and composition of the intestinal flora is stimulated by providing sufficient roughage. Choose high-quality roughage. Soft, green and fine roughage usually contains a higher content of protein as it comes from young grass. With an unlimited amount of roughage, foals will be less likely to get bored, have less stress and achieve optimal gut development. As a concentrate feed, we recommend EquiFirst Starting Cube, this foal pellet is a tasty 6 mm pellet and contains all necessary nutrients, such as amino acids, minerals, trace elements and vitamins. This foal pellet is made from the same raw materials as adult pellets, only more attention is paid to the quality of the protein source (milk products) and palatability. Young foals cannot get all the nutrients from roughage, so extra concentrate is needed to supplement protein, minerals and vitamins. Give ponies small portions several times a day, no more than 0.3 kg per meal. A recommendation for the amount of concentrate feed is not so easy to give, because needs can vary a lot and there are many sizes of foals. Do not give too much concentrate, foals will eat less roughage, whereas this should be the basis. A lot of concentrate feed contains a lot of energy and protein, which causes too fast growth and risk of disorders, such as OCD. We recommend feeding foals with the Starting Cube for the first year of life, after which they can switch to the Growing Cube.

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