You’ve done your research, forked out your hard earned cash and after waiting for your supplements to arrive you head excitedly to the feed shed to make your horses new magic brew… WAIT!
Before you jump in and throw the whole dose in on the first day, there are a few things you may want to consider.
Any new feed or supplement should be started slowly. If your lucky enough to have a garbage guts then sure… get up to the full dose in a week or two, but if, like some of us, you have a suspicious nelly, the following tips may help.
START SLOWLY – Its always best to err on the side of caution and start any new feed supplements slowly! It’s far better to build up over several weeks, even a month or two, than create a problem from the beginning by trying to introduce too much at once. If the full dose is two tablespoons, start with just half a teaspoon or less.
IS THE BIN SHALLOW? – Make sure your horses feed bin is shallow! I’ve found it’s often the smell of a new feed rather than the taste that turns horses away. You only have to watch them take a sniff and walk away to know that. So a deep bin is going to concentrate the smell. Find a bin that’s shallow and wide, more like a tray than a bucket, something that allows free airflow in and around the nose. See pics below.. Once your horse is accepting the supplements well you may be able to go back to your old feeders.
IS THE BIN CLEAN? – If not, it might be the old crusty bits the horse is objecting too. Give it a scrub but avoid chemicals and detergents.
IS THE CARRIER FEED WELL ACCEPTED? -Is the horse accustomed to the carrier feed or is this new too? If changing the carrier feed ingredients, make sure the horse is 100% happy to eat this first.
IS THERE ENOUGH CARRIER FEED? – Is there enough carrier feed to dilute the taste/smell of the supplements? In the beginning you may need to increase this a bit if your not used to feeding much. I personally feed one cup of maxisoy or speedibeet (dry) soaked in 3 litres of water then mixed into another large scoop of chaff. Once the fibre feed has soaked and swelled it makes substantial bulk without adding too much in the way of calories and it makes a perfect damp mash to mix powders into!
POWDER ACCUMULATION – Is there powder in the bottom of the bin? Always mix with damp feed to avoid this problem. Inhalation of powders is a hazard and must be avoided.
TIME – Are you allowing the horse enough time to eat up? Or are you running out to fix the problem as soon as he walks away from the bin?
OTHER OPTIONS – Does the horse have other things to eat like hay? Try holding off on the hay till he or she eats dinner.
The following things can be used to hide the smell of supplements or to tempt fussy eaters:
- Apple Cider Vinegar – this one in itself might take the horse a while to get used to but I’ve found horses generally get to like the taste/smell and once they accept it, because its quite strong, its an excellent way to hide other smells!
- Flavored teas – brew up a cup to throw in with the feed. Flavors that have been successful include – peppermint, spearmint, chamomile, cinnamon and apple, rosehips, meadowsweet. Or you can try any other sweet herby flavor you can find!
- Powdered herbs sprinkled on top of the feed. Some good ones to try include beetroot, fenugreek, star anise, apple fibre, calendula, stevia and peppermint.
We have just put together a herbal blend called ‘Taste Tempter’ that can be used in the first weeks of starting any new feed or supplement. Check out the shop for more details.
Other things to rule out include – dental issues, gastric upsets or ulcers and stress and anxiety, for example is your horse separated from the herd to eat?
All else fails you can syringe the ingredients in! Try mixing them first with something sticky and yummy like carrot or apple baby food or beetroot powder mixed into a paste.