Herbivore Nutrition and Spring Pasture

Posted on Sep 18, 2013
Herbivore Nutrition and Spring Pasture

Good quality hay in Southern Ontario was in short supply this winter due to the crazy weather patterns experienced during last year’s growing season. Hay that could be found was two to three times more expensive than previous years. Everyone was looking forward to this year’s growing season to provide fresh pasture and this year’s hay to their collection. Beware the freshness! Most animal keepers are aware that switching to a new concentrate needs to be done slooowly. I usually suggest incorporating a new diet at no more than 25% per week to avoid gastric upset. That means it will take a month to switch your animals onto a new diet. The switch between forages of varying quality needs to be performed just as slow. Forage can make up more than 70% of an animal’s diet so a dramatic change may cause issues such as laminitis and bloat. The following note was recently posted on the Masterfeeds Facebook page by Nutritionist Jackie VandenBrink, MSc. It makes some very good points regarding spring grass that should be considered when feeding our zoo species as well. So, make sure to hold back enough of that poor quality hay you were using over the winter months in order to make that transition when this year’s hay is available. It will be tempting to offer this year’s hay as soon as it is cut. Be patient! Take a moment to read Jackie’s post and substitute your ungulate of choice whenever she mentions horses!