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The digestive system of horses is particularly sensitive. As such, if you want to change a horse’s diet, it is advisable to do so gradually and following a few rules. This will help your horse adapt to its new diet without causing any digestive disorders.
The horse’s main diet is feed crops (especially hay), which should be supplemented by a ration of concentrated feed served over several servings, usually 2 or 3 a day to avoid deficiencies. If your horse’s energy needs change, you must adapt the composition of its diet and/or the frequency of its servings. There are many reasons why you might need to change a horse’s diet: if your horse is overweight or, conversely, underweight, if it lacks energy, if you change the regularity of its physical exercise, if you fear weight loss following a change of season, etc.
The dietary needs of horses vary greatly depending on what they do. For example, a retired horse or a horse that is not exercised will need a specific diet to maintain its muscle mass and sufficient energy to help regulate its temperature in winter, and a race horse’s diet contains a lot of trace elements, vitamins, and minerals and has high energy potential. Feed with limited starch intake should be favoured to supplement feed crop intake. The intake of cereal-based rations promotes the appearance of ulcers, and for horses performing strenuous and repeated exercise, this intake of cereals promotes the production of toxins which limits performance and slows recovery.
In addition to feed, feed supplements are available according to specific needs, such as regrowing horn or coat, joint relief, or repairing the digestive system. Royal Horse can meet every need through its range of horse feed and horse feed supplements.
If you want to change your horse’s diet, allow for an adjustment period of about ten days. Start by introducing the new feed in small doses, for example, replacing 20% of the old feed with the new feed during the first two days. Then increase the dose of the new horse feed to about 40% for two days, then 60% for another two days, 80% the next two days, and finally the entire ration after eight days. Be attentive to your horse and its droppings to make sure it is settling into its new diet. If in doubt, call your veterinary surgeon. Make sure that the energy values between the two types of feed remain the same. For example, flaked feed often contains more energy than conventional feed, so you will need to reduce the ration size to ensure that your horse does not put on weight or have too much energy.
Choosing the right diet for your horse has a direct impact on its health, so it is important to favour horse feed developed by nutritionists which will cover all its vital needs.