Following on from Abbie’s recent blog, many of us will be adapting our horses’ diet as we head into winter. Some horses can be reluctant to eat their feeds when something new is introduced, so here are some tips to get your fussy feeder eating again!
There are multiple factors to take into consideration when trying to introduce something new to your horse’s diet such as smell, taste and texture. Horses do generally prefer sweet and salty tastes and avoid bitter or sour. This is just as well, as many poisonous plants are bitter, and a horse’s keen sense of smell can detect the chemical markers and remember the plant’s taste.
Firstly, you should eliminate any possible medical causations which may be preventing them from eating such as dental issues and Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome (EGUS). If the horse is in discomfort, they could lose their desire to eat. It is also common for certain medications to impact the horse’s appetite, this is commonly seen from Prascend tablets used in the treatment of Equine Cushing’s Disease, also known as Pituitary Pars Intermedia Dysfunction (PPID). Once any potential health issues have been ruled out, there are various ways in which you can tempt your horse to eat their new feed.
Due to being flight animals, horses are prone to neophobia - the fear of anything new or different. This means that if you suddenly add in something different to their feed bowl, they may be put off even touching it. To reduce the risk of this you should introduce any new supplements and feeds very gradually, starting out with just a pinch, and slowly increasing to the recommended feeding levels over the course of 5-7 days.
If you find that gradually introducing a new supplement or feed has not been successful, you could try grating some apple or carrot into your horses feed, this may encourage the horse to eat. Fenugreek Seeds are also recommended, as this herb can help to stimulate the appetite of picky eaters. Fenugreek seeds are additionally a good source of protein and fat which can help the more underweight horse gain condition. However, we do not recommend feeding Fenugreek Seeds to pregnant mares due to their uterine stimulating effects.
Here at Feedmark, we manufacture a product tailored to those with a specific individual taste, this product is called Fussy Feeder! Fussy Feeder is a combination of Spearmint, Linseed and Fenugreek, blended with added Spearmint oil to provide a fragrant, tasty treat to encourage your horse to eat. It combines the most commonly used equine appetite stimulants, Mint and Fenugreek which have the added bonus of being digestive aids. By popping Fussy Feeder in your horse’s feed, the pleasant aroma and taste can help to mask any unpleasant additions.