AQHA Magazine September/October 2018 Sep_Oct_2018_1-52_proof_FINAL (1) - Page 39

prior to feeding. Copra can be used to increase energy in the diet but should be fed in conjunction with a balanced ration, especially for growing or breeding stock since the protein is of low quality and will not support adequate growth. Common health risks associated with drought feeding During drought, you may need to make frequent changes to your horse’s diet as different ingredients become unavailable, or a new source of an ingredient is found. Constantly changing the diet, using unusual ingredients that you are not famil- iar with and feeding more hard feed to make up for the lack of forage imposes some health risks on your horse. The major risks to be aware of are colic, gastric ulcers, laminitis and worms. Colic: To minimise the risks of colic, try to provide as much roughage as you are able, and provide as much energy in the form of fibre and fat as possible, thus minimising the need for grains. Introduce all new feeds and ingredients including different hay and chaff types over a period of 7-10 days, gradually phasing out the old whilst slowly increasing the new ingredient. Remember that dry forage sources such as hay contain much less moisture than fresh pasture, so horses will often drink more water when consuming large amounts of these forage sources. If you are having to feed a large amount of the required energy as hard feed, make sure you feed little and often. Feed no more than 2.5kg of hard feed in one meal. This may mean that you have to provide three or even four meals per day in order to reduce the risk of colic. Provide plenty of fresh water, whatever the cost. If you have run out of water from your dam, you will need to find an alternate source, or move your horses to an area with good water supply. Gastric ulcers: These result from feeding a diet high in grains, and from the stress of work or travel. Again, to help prevent ulcers, try to minimise grains, and feed small meals with plenty of forage. Bulk out the meals with chaff or one of the chaff substitutes mentioned to slow down consumption and allow as much hay as you can ration. gastric environment and protect the sensitive lining of the stomach. Laminitis: Horses are at high risk of laminitis with drought feeding practices. Making all changes very slowly, feeding small meals and enlisting the help of your veterinar- ian and/or equine nutritionist can be essential in successful manage- ment of these horses during drought periods. Depending on the individ- ual history of the disease with this horse, management techniques may vary. It is worth considering adding KER EquiShure to your horse’s ration during this time. KER EquiShure promotes normal digestive function by aiding in the maintenance of an optimal hindgut environment and is designed for horses suspected of suffering from or that are at risk of developing hindgut acidosis. Hindgut acidosis can be triggered by many factors, including restrict- ed forage intake and the overflow of starch from the small intestine. Hindgut acidosis leads to changes in the bacterial population of the hindgut, digestive disturbances and reduced digestive efficiency. Worms: Dry conditions do not favour larval survival, so worms tend not to be quite so prolific in horse pastures during drought but if there is a lack of forage horses may start to eat droppings and graze rough areas of the paddock to sat- isfy their need for forage. Maintain a vigilant worming program during drought to help horses get the most out of their feed and remove droppings from the paddock or yard regularly. Wood chewing: You may notice your horse eating tree bark, or your fenc- es if you are not providing sufficient forage in the diet. The easiest way to prevent and remedy this problem is to make more forage available either with hay or chaff, or with some of the aforementioned alternatives. Once the drought has broken When the rain comes, everyone breathes a collective sigh of relief, but the problems do not end with the first patter of the life giving drops. Paddocks that have become dry and dusty will take a period of time to fully recover, and until then, the dangers of fresh new growth to your horse will also have to be carefully managed. The temptation is strong to put the horses straight into a paddock that has just become lush with new growth and feel the glow of satisfaction from watching them tuck into natures gift. But as with all dietary changes, the introduction to new pasture must be done slowly to avoid the risk of colic and laminitis. If possible, start by allowing just a couple of hours each day at the new pasture. Not only will this help the horses to get used to the change in diet, but it will allow the pasture to recover a little too. For the first month or so, build up to a period of time during the day at pasture, but take the horses off, or rotate to a different paddock for the rest of the time so that fragile new pastures will not become depleted right away. If you have the facilities to selectively graze your pasture by using temporary fencing, then start this practice right away, and allow the worst portions of your pasture to fully recover before subjecting them to the stress of grazing. Beware of the ‘green drought’ in which your pasture may appear to remain green, but there is no actual grass to be had. You will need to continue with supplementary forage until there is sufficient pas- ture for the horse to graze consist- ently before reducing the amount. Whilst the benefits of the new pasture and hay crops are starting to be felt, you can gradually wean the horses off any extra hard feed you have had to provide to main- tain weight during the drought and revert back to your old management systems. For those horses that have lost quite a bit of condition during the drought despite your best ef- forts, continue to feed them enough hard feed to recover their condition before cutting back. Help is available Feeding and caring for horses during a drought can be stress- ful. For more information and tips on successfully managing horses during drought, contact Kentucky Equine Research’s FREE nutrition consultation service on 1800 772 198, email advice@ker.com or submit a diet analysis through our website www.ker.com. Consider adding an antacid and gastric coating supplement like KER Neigh-Lox. KER Neigh-Lox is a scientifically formulated blend of slow and rapid acting antacids and gastric coating agents designed to support the maintenance of normal September • October • 2018 • The Australian Quarter Horse Magazine • 39