Saturday, April 4, 2015

Signs of Spring: Thoughts on Supplementation, Hay Analysis, and Laminitis

by Barbara Noble

When Barbara Noble sent us this article, I appreciated the reminder that springtime brings new growth of all kinds, including the prospect of new hay, rich new grass, and definitely, a few seasonal concerns. A timely post! - Mary Gallagher

Not long ago I took a course in Equine Touch. One of my fellow participants was a veterinarian from the area where the clinic was held.  Other participants were eager for the opportunity to access her expertise during free time and kept asking her questions, mostly, ‘should I give my horse a supplement?  What supplement should I use?  Does my horse need a different type of supplement?  I heard many supplement questions and only one answer: It depends upon what is in your hay.  You have to get a hay analysis.

I could not agree more. How can I adjust what I feed my horse when I do not know what I am feeding? Seriously! Hay is grass. The soil conditions change what is in the hay, and the 'haying' conditions change what is in the hay. Two major variables. Soon we will all be buying newly cured hay. Ask your supplier for a current analysis, or get it done yourself, and feed your horse for health. 

I can help you with the process if you would like some camaraderie!  I have a hay corer and recommend Equi-Analytical, a great lab for hay analysis for horses. Then let's look at balancing that diet.

On a related topic, some people are experiencing lameness in their turned-out horses.  Some horses have significant lameness, while some are just tender-footed. Please be aware that while for some horses grass is the staff of life, for others it can be the stuff that kills them!!  Spring is notorious for bringing on laminitis/founder and must be considered if your horse being 'off' doesn't have a different, obvious cause.  Take them off this fast growing high sugar starch spring grass as a first intervention. 

Contact Barbara by email if you’d like her assistance with hay or other nutritional questions.

If you are a Freedom Farm hay customer, you can find the 2014 analysis here. And Freedom Farm has pens available if your horse needs to stay off of grass for a while! Email or call me for more info. -MG

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