Changing my horse's hay type correctly.

Hello everybody! I am about to purchase my first horse and have a bit of a hay issue. The barn I am buying the horse from free feeds wheat hay to all of their horses. My barn only supplies alfalfa and grass hay. Also, at my barn they are only fed breakfast and dinner. I am not sure how to transition my horse properly from free fed hay to not and from wheat hay to alfalfa and or grass hay. Don’t want my horse to colic! Please help!

Buy a bale of hay from the old barn. Take it to the new barn and ask them to transition the horse from old to new hay over a week or two. They will recoil in horror from the wheat hay but should understand your request. Have them transition from wheat hsy to straight grass hay. Then when he is happy on grass hay, start adding alfalfa.

In addition to colic watch for diarrhea which can be a result of changing feeds.

In general no big deal.

What Scribbler said. I just attended a feed seminar which was very interesting and the vet who did the presentation said it takes two weeks for the gut biota to completely adjust to a new feed. However, she was discussing grains and processed feeds, so hay might not be such a big change.

In addition, carefully monitor how much hay your horse is getting at the new barn. Many posters have experienced problems with boarding barns being stingy with the hay. I had that problem myself until I changed arrangements so that now I buy my own hay and the barn feeds it.

If your horse is in a stall or small paddock, I think it is especially important to keep hay available for most of the time, if nothing else, to keep him busy and free from nervous vices. So after you transition him, if his weight is good and he looks happy, do nothing. If his weight is good but he looks anxious or stressed, give him extra grass hay. If he is losing weight, add alfalfa. Like I said, that is basic advice which doesn’t take into account any special nutritional needs your horse may have, such as a heavy work load which requires other feeds. Oh, and don’t forget to buy a mineral block for him.

Thank you all so much!