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    Re: [RC] Susan G - grass question! - Susan Garlinghouse

    > Susan (or anyone else who can answer),
    > My horses have been on a large dry lot (fed grass hay)
    > for about a month because my small pasture is grazed
    > down. We're moving this week to an acreage where they
    > will be on a pasture that wasn't grazed this summer,
    > only mowed. It's still quite green and lush (we're in
    > Iowa). Do I need to gradually introduce them to it
    > like we do in the spring? Or is a sudden influx of
    > mature grass no problem?
    > Thanks, Kristi
    Hi guys,
    Sorry to be so behind in email, I'll try to get caught up this weekend.
    Just too many irons in the fire these days.
    I'm sure by now you've figured it out and the new pasture is long past
    anything resembling green or lush---but, nevertheless, you should ALWAYS
    take time introducing any new feed, be it grain, hays, pasture or anything
    else (except for small amounts of vitamin/mineral supplements for the most
    part).  A lot of the time, horses can make transitions in a few days---but,
    if they don't, the price may be colic, +/- a trip to surgery, laminitis, all
    kinds of problems.  It's just not worth it.
    A pretty good rule of thumb when introducing a new feed is to start
    introducing the new feed at about a half pound a day, adding another half
    pound every few days until you're where you want to end up.  For beet pulp
    based products, the half pound refers to dry weight and I start the first
    week with just a handful or two prior to soaking---beet pulp is highly
    fermentable and some horses can get a little gassy and uncomfortable until
    the hindgut microbes adjust.
    For new hays, you can introduce a few pounds of the new hay every few days
    until you've replaced the old with the new.  This goes for switches of
    legumes (ie, alfalfa or clover) to grass/grain hays and vice versa.  Too
    much alfalfa at once can cause some gas and colic in some horses, and the
    lower digestibility of some of the grass hays can potentially cause an
    impaction if switched too quickly.
    >From time to time, I've heard comments that a variety of hays during travel
    and such is "good for horses", and while I don't get too wound up over
    faster switches between similar hay types (ie, orchardgrass to bermuda), I
    really don't like fast switches between grass/cereal hays and legumes.
    As for switching from hay to pasture, a good rule of thumb is to feed the
    horses up on their regular hay first, then turn them out onto pasture for
    maybe an hour a day for the first day or two, then double the turnout time
    each few days until they're out 24/7.  This schedule is a bit more
    conservative than some, but again, I sure spend a lot of my time these days
    caring for hospitalized and post-surgical horses that didn't respond at ALL
    well to sudden feed changes.  Better safe than sorry. :-)
    Hope this helps.
    Susan G
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