Friday, October 31, 2014

Grain Inconsistencies

Otto has been on Mare and Foal since he got here. He loves it.. loves it so much that I have to hang a bucket for him to eat because he gets so excited about eating , he paws at his pan if fed on the ground and it ends up on the ground wasted.
 In the morning , he is usually waiting for for his breakfast. Tom feeds hay when he gets up and then later I go out and give him his grain. Yesterday morning, he was out in the pasture still (granted I was earlier than usual) laying down  I think. It was foggy and dark so I could only see shadows from the partial light I had on.  I waited and he did make his way over to the barn eventually . He took a couple of bites and then walked away from it.

UGH..OH..I thought..

I watched him for a bit and he wasn't at all interested in his grain. He didn't appear to be in any discomfort.  He had some dried grass in his mane but it didn't look like he had been rolling or anything. He just seemed sleepy and not hungry. But it was  definitely atypical for his norrmal voracious appetite.

I had about an hour before I had to leave for an appt so I pulled his bucket and watched him. He drank and wandered about. He definitely seemed like something was bothering him but nothing outwardly obvious. There was still plenty of hay and Cassidy was happily munching away. He had some gut noises but since I don't have a good idea of what is normal for him yet, I wasn't sure if it was quieter than it should have been. There was some pinging sounds and some distant gurgling but if it were any of my other horses, I would have said his gut sounds were a little quieter than they should have been. I decided to walk him around a bit and see. I ran in the house, changed clothes and came back out. He was standing at the fence and passes a small but of manure that looked normal. That was a good sign. I took him for a walk  and then did a little lungeing at a walk. I figured it was as good a time as any to start learning and I was tired of walking through grass and getting soaked. He aseemed fine. In fact he seemed kind of put off that I was making him work at this hour and had some attitude about the whole thing.  I did notice he was rather flatulent for a bit.. When time was up and I had to get going, I checked gut sounds again. They were definitely louder and much more distinct. I took the halter off, he went over and was interested in the hay. Gas bubble???

I knew I would be gone for only about an hour . He would have to wait. It wasn't something I could cancel and he wasn't really exhibiting any classic signs.  When I returned home, Cassidy and him were happily out grazing in the pasture and shortly after that, they were running laps and bucking and getting the other geldings all worked up. Clearly he was feeling better but I kept an eye on him all afternoon.

About 3:00 I decided to give the grain another try. He turned his nose up to it again..he took a bite and then started spitting it out ,like it tasted bad .. it was mixed with beet pulp so I thought maybe the beet pulp got sour, (although it should not have been because it had only been soaking since late the night before)
I tired giving him just some of the remaining beet pulp without any grain mixed in.. He ate that just fine..It wasn't the beet pulp.

This was a brand new bag of his Mare and Foal feed. The mornings feeding was the first  scoop out of it. I wondered if maybe it had gone bad. I didn't smell bad or look like it had gotten wet or anything but he was definitely not liking it.

I tried to give the other geldings a handful of it just to see their reaction. When it comes to grain, they won't turn down anything. They also did not care for it. They took one bite and began spitting it out.

I had purchased two bags at the same time so I opened the other bag . I gave Otto and the other horses a sample of that.. Same reaction.

How could a horse go from eating his grain perfectly fine to completely hating it overnight? The only thing that made sense was that something was wrong with hit.

I tried one last thing. I remembered that I had emptied out the rest of the old batch of grain that was in the bottom of the barrel into another bucket the night before .I am not sure why I did that but I had about a half a scoops worth of the previous bag of Mare and Foal, that he had been eating with no issue.

I went ahead and gave him a couple of handfuls of that. He dove into it and was looking for more.
It was pretty obvious I had ruled out that the two new bags , for whatever reason, were not tasting good to him or the other horses.

I called the supplier that I buy the grain from. They had not been made aware of any formula changes or had any other complaints.  They were nice about it and said to bring the bags in and maybe it was a bad lot.  They would check the lots and give me a bag from a new lot to see if it helped. When I got there, we discovered everything they had on hand was of the same lot #.

I wasn't going to bring another bag of that home only to have the same issue.

After alot of back and forth,  and comparing feed tags, I decided to keep with the same product line ( as opposed to switching to Purina or Omolene)  but go with  a slightly different formula. I chose the  Original Formula. The percentages of ingredients were almost identical (mostly less than what the M&F Formula had) . Additionally, everything in that line of grain has similar make up with the controlled starches , amino acids and pre/probiotics so this wasn't going to change at all.  Besides, Otto gets Equipride so any gaps in nutrition would be pretty much covered by that supplement.

I felt like this was the best decision considering that I was  now going to have to make a drastic grain change . I wanted to lower the risk of issues associated  drastic feed change as much as possible. If I switched products all together I would have to start at the beginning and slowly reintroduce grain.

Considering I want to minimize any period of time where I have to decrease his caloric intake, this was really my best option. I had not planned on having to switch grains.

Mare and Foal


The good news is that the new formula meets Otto's approval . I gave him a sample yesterday afternoon.  He chowed down on it like a growing colt should.  He happily ate both his dinner and breakfast this morning so we are back in business.
I have never experienced something like this  before. One of the reason I chose this product is that they are supposed to be very good about cleaning out the hoppers between formula mixes.Their smart grain technology is supposed to make the feeds more consistent bag to bag. It seems something might have gone wrong.

I will be reaching out to the company to let them know what has occurred.  It's possible it was just a formula change that the distributor wasn't informed about.

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