With equestrian sport currently on hold, you may find you have a little extra time on your hands. It’s an ideal time do those jobs that you’ve been putting off and with spring in air, what better excuse for having a tidy up and clean out on the yard and in your feed room.
Clean up your feed board
Dig out that redundant dusty whiteboard that has been tucked away all winter! A clear feeding board showing what each horse gets at each feed time will prevent mistakes. This is particularly helpful in busy yards where lots of horses may be following different feeding regimes. It’s also very useful in small yards for those days you that need to delegate your horse’s feeding to someone else.
Keep it right
Correct storage of feeds will be a big benefit in the long term. Keep feed bags dry, store them off the ground and away from walls, particularly external walls which may become damp. Try to have a dedicated feed room or area. It’s always best if the feed room can be securely closed, this will prevent dogs urinating on bags and escaped Houdini type ponies gorging on the entire contents of the feed room!
Managing rodents is always a challenge, particularly where large amounts of feed are kept. Storing feed in rodent-proof containers, specialised feed bins, repurposed feed bins, freezers etc will help keep the little furry creatures away. Use all the feed in a bin and clean it out before adding another bag. This prevents a build-up of old feed at the bottom of the bin that may become stale and mouldy. Clean, wash and dry the bins properly on a regular basis. Storing the feed in the bag in the bin is best but is not practical in large yards where it is much easier to pour several bags into bigger bins.
Wash and dry
We have had a very mild wet winter, which hopefully is coming to an end! However, with milder temperatures, mould can appear where you may have not noticed it before.
Mould is not your friend and can lead to all sorts of problems in horses, affecting the respiratory system, fertility, skin and, in the case of feeds, palatability and nutrient content. Keep bags of feed stored away from walls that may be damp. Wash feed scoops, buckets and bowls as regularly as possible. Prepare any beet pulp type feeds or mashes in small daily quantities and wash the buckets used for beet pulp every day. Pay particular attention to any buckets and scoops used for oils or other liquid supplements. Having everything as clean and dry as possible will help keep moulds at bay.
Be careful with medications
Many horses need to be on some kind of medication at some stage in their lives. If at all possible do not give oral (by mouth) medications in their feed. Horses have very discerning taste and may not eat feed with medicines mixed in, meaning that the horse does not get the full dose or eat their feed.
Another problem with medicine in feeds is contamination. Even tiny traces of medicines may get stuck to the bottom of a bucket, which then may be used to feed another horse. This may lead to disqualification for racehorses and competition horses that are routinely drug tested at events. Try to give oral medicines in a syringe into the mouth. Alternatively, a small amount of feed in a dedicated bucket or a tasty bribe or treats may improve your success rate.
Like many of us preparing for those summer days, the key to most diets is to know how much you are eating and the same applies to horses. While they are not all on a weight loss plan it is very important to know what each horse is eating and how much feed your feed scoop holds. It doesn’t matter what your scoop looks like or what purpose it served in a previous life (….you know who you are saucepan users!) it is important to know how much feed is in it. Remember that a scoop of mix will not be the same weight as a scoop of cubes. We recommend abducting the kitchen weigh scales to weigh the amount of each feed (hard feed, chaff and dry weight sugar beet) your horse receives daily. This will allow you to adjust the quantities, or the type
of feed, your horse receives so that they continue to maintain optimal weight and condition.
Whilst our expert team of nutritionists are, like many others, currently working from home they are still available to answer any questions or queries you may have. Find out more and get in touch with them on our Expert Advice page.