Article by Dunstan Feeds
As we head into Spring there is much excitement with pregnant mares and new arrivals.
However, it is also a critical time for last year’s foals as they hit 12 months of age. The way these young horses are managed over the next few months will depend a great deal on their body condition, type and if they are to be targeted at Yearling Sales.
With Spring comes an increase in pasture availability and within these Spring pastures, elevated sugar levels, resulting in increased calorie intake for these young horses. In conjunction with milder climatic conditions, many young growing horses will see rapid gains in body condition. For young horses that have wintered very well it is a time when calorie intake may need to be restricted to avoid excessive weight gain and the potential developmental issues that may arise from that.
The first thing that can be reduced is supplementary feed. However, it is still critical at this age that adequate mineral fortification is being provided. By reducing the feed rate of a full feed to under 2.5kg per day will result in a decrease in calorie contribution but also a significant reduction in daily mineral intake. ‘Full Feeds’ are formulated to be fed at a minimum of 2.5kg per day at this time. The ideal way to manage these horses while maintaining a balanced ration and reducing daily calorie intake is to move them to a ‘semi- concentrate’ or “balancer” pellet (in the most extreme cases).
As the name would suggest, the Semi concentrate is more concentrated in nutrients than a full feed, and the balancer pellet is more concentrated again. Depending on the condition of the young horse and the feed availability going forward will help to determine the most suitable product. Dunstan has two ‘semi concentrates’ which, when fed at 1.5kg per day in conjunction with forage, will provide the yearling with the necessary nutrients for optimum growth and development. Dunstan Fibre Balancer comes in the same form as Dunstan Fibre Grow, so transition to the lower intake feed is easy. Dunstan also has a semi concentrate in a textured meal form in Dunstan Grass Balancer which is ‘related’ to Dunstan Yearling Mix and again results in an easy transition from the full feed to the semi concentrate.
If the step down in calorie intake needs to be more aggressive, the use of a balancer pellet like Dunstan Multi-Ultra would be appropriate with a feed rate of only 500g per day. Those with pregnant mares that are using the Dunstan TriMAREster can utilise that product if required, again providing a concentrate source of key minerals at the 500g feed rate.
In contrast, young horses that are in requiring additional body condition or do not have access to abundant pasture, continuing to use a full feed is necessary, particularly for those individuals targeted at the Yearling Sales. These horses will require different feeding and management strategies.
If you would like to know more about the products Dunstan has available or to talk to the Dunstan Team, please call Dunstan on 0800 438 678. Alternatively, you can contact David Smith directly on 0274 931580 or Gretel Webber on 021 557316.