Spring is here!!!29/04/2019
Spring is here!!! And so is the new sweet grass.
As the clocks have gone forward now is the time for the young sweet spring grass to come through. But what problems does this cause if we are not mindful?
1. Horses can consume huge amounts of grass in a day, up to 5% of their body weight, this is 3 times the amount of calories that is required for a horse in light work, so we end up with a calorie overload.
2. High intakes of sugar and fructan, which are referred to as ‘WSC’ can be found in the stem of the grass which can lead to colic, insulin problems, laminitis and weight gain.
3. WSC is always higher in early spring, but change hour to hour making it hard to know when it is safest to turn out. The WSC levels will be lower at night as the grass cannot photosynthesis without sunlight.
4. At this time of year, we get sunny frosty mornings and this can be a danger for laminitics. When it is too cold for the grass to grow overnight the WSC levels may remain high and when the sun comes out this is coupled with photosynthesis and more sugar is produced.
There are ways in which we can make sure that our horses don’t get too much grass, for example, restricted grazing. But be careful our horses can become wise to this and eat up to 1% of their body weight in 3 hours even if they have been fed and have hay for the rest of the day.
Grazing muzzles do help. They reduce intake by an average of 77% in horses turned out for 3 hours, and reduce weight gain when worn for 10 out of 23 horses. But this has to be monitored as this can cause your horse to be frustrated. Also, it can cause uneven wear on the teeth.
You can always completely remove your horse from grazing. This is an ideal option if your horse is prone to Laminitis or stomach problems. Grazing should be replaced by hay.
Just a few pointers to keep you and your horse happy this spring.