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Getting ready for the grazing season

Posted in : on 02-03-2022

The build-up to the grazing season is very important. The digestion of your horse has to adjust itself to a new food ration. The digestion of your horse is completely focussed on winter rations and should be changed slowly from stable to pasture. This way is the digestion able to adjust to the new situation and is the body able to prevent problems such as colic, laminitis and diarrhoea. But how do you solve this?

A good transition to the grazing season

The build-up to the grazing season is very important. The digestion of your horse has to adjust itself to a new food ration. The digestion of your horse is completely focussed on winter rations and should be changed slowly from stable to pasture. This way is the digestion able to adjust to the new situation and is the body able to prevent problems such as colic, laminitis and diarrhoea. But how do you solve this?

  • Build-up from barn to pasture. Start with small periods of grazing in the pastures. Some horses are more sensitive to change than others. Build-up the change slowly.
  • Strip grazing. A big pasture can be divided in parcels or strips so you can control the amount of grass your horse eats. This way your give your horse a new piece of grass everyday and is the grazed grass able to recover.
  • Full stomache. In the first period you can give your horse hay before it is going outside. This is how you prevent that your horse eats to much sugar-rich young grass.
  • Digestion. Also adapt the food supplements on the change from barn to pasture. Grass consists out of energy, sugars and proteins and it consists out of little structure. Complete the ration with extra vitamins, minerals and herbs to keep the digestion and the metabolism balanced.
  • Detox. The start of every season is the best moment to start a detox. Due to the change of ration produces the body of your horse a lot of waste broken down by the liver. A detox works cleansing and helps your liver and kidneys to dispose the waste. The perfect preparation for the change from barn to pasture! Read more about detoxing for horses.

The dangers of sweet spring grass

During the winter months is the digestion adapted to dry roughage. When grass is part of the daily ration then is the digestion also influenced to the grass eaten by your horse. But why?

Grass produces a lot of fructan (a sugar), which makes grass grow. Fructan is only processed when it is warm enough. This is why the sugar levels are at its highest when the temperatures rise as it hasn’t grown in winter. During spring is fructan at its highest level and is also a common cause for laminitis. On what should you pay attention to?

  • Night frost. After a cold night then you shouldn’t let your horse on the pastures. The grass is then able to process the stored fructan.
  • Make sure that the pasture is fertilized correctly. This can be a great influence on the fructan levels in the grass and can be a reason of high fructan levels.
  • Limit eating grass. Limit your horse to eat gras with a grazing mask, less time on the pastures or on grass.
  • Sugar levels. Is your horse sensitive to sugar? Be careful during the change from barn to pasture. During the constant changing sugar levels of the grass is a supplement such as Glucose support great to maintain healthy sugar levels.
  • Magnesium. Magnesium is important to muscle and nerve function however, the high potassium in ryegrass pasture reduces its absorption and pasture tends to have lower levels of magnesium in spring. Many grazing horses with nervous, excitable behaviour during the spring and autumn respond to magnesium supplementation.

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