HOW TO SAFELY SWITCH FEEDS
Changing feeds is an inevitable task in raising a market project. Especially with a newly purchase market project. Changing feeds incorrectly can cause undue digestive stress. Feed manufacturers are diligent to keep their feed recipes standard and consistent from batch to batch, but there are steps that owners can take to ensure a smooth transition from bag to bag and feed mix to new mixes.
It is important to start your project with a feed that is designed for their specific need. By starting your project with the correct feed, you automatically eliminate a feed change. It’s important to understand that feeds are not created equally and please don’t think that any feed will work.
Market animals have feed requirements ranging from maintenance feeds for breeders to high energy feeds designed for show animals and many in between. Here are a few basic categories to learn about.
PHASES OF FEEDS
Supplements (for fine tuning)
Fillers (for weight control and form)
As you progress through these various feeds, transitioning your animal successfully will be based on how well you plan and organize the transition of feed.
HAVE A FEED STRATEGY
- FEED STRATEGY – Have a basic feed strategy in mind before you purchase your project.
- LOCATE A FEED RESOURCE – Check out resource tab for the local feed options available to you.
- QUALITY FEED – Select a high quality feed that has both a grower, finisher and possibly a line of supplements. Pick out a feed brand and follow the recommended manufacturer’s feeding structure. Reference article Feeding Basics for more feed details.
WHAT FEED WAS THE BREEDER USING?
When you purchase your new project, continue feeding what the breeder fed for a minimum of 1/2 bag and then transition as directed to your feed choice. It’s your choice to keep feeding the breeders feed or switching to another brand. Sometimes, the breeder’s feed may not be readily available in your area and it’s easier to switch to another local feed.
NOTE: Consider the breeder’s opinion for feeds. They are extremely familiar with their breeding programs and know how their animals will grow. They may be able to provide some valuable insight to a successful feed program.
STRESS FACTOR – Also keep in mind that when you purchase a market project and bring it home, it may have experienced stresses from the trailer ride, climate change, water and other environmental factors such as pollens, trees, & other types of allergens. By initially feeding the same feed, you eliminate at least one major stress from the list. When it’s time to transition to the next level of feed in your program, reference “Feed Change Steps” to make a successful transition.
Feed Change Steps
Day 1-3, feed ½ of the old feed mixed with ½ of the new.
Day 4-7, feed ¼ of the old feed mixed with ¾ of the new.
Day 8, feed the new feed alone.
Plan ahead. Don’t wait until you are completely out of your old feed so that the transition can be performed.
Have Probiotics on hand if your project seems stressed by the feed change.
Feed Resources – Contact your Breeder or local Feed dealer for appropriate feeds designed for your specific animal.
Newly Purchased Animals:
- 1 bag of Breeder’s Feed
- 2 bags of Grower Feed
- Probiotic Paste
If your market project is experiencing bloat, loose feces or other digestive stress, a probiotic paste treatment may help to settle things down. See article “Probiotic Therapies” for steps to administer probiotics. You will be amazed how quickly they recover and feel better! If they don’t improve within 12 hours, stop the transition and contact your adviser.
Watch out for Hay eaters such as goats, sheep & horses. Alfalfa Hay can be what is termed “hot”. It’s not that it is physically hot, but rather by its nutrients. Hot hay will quickly ferment in the stomach and can send your animal into digestive distress. Hot hay isn’t obvious to us, but the health warning signs will be a bloated stomach, loose & watery feces or your animal will be laying down in distress. Taking a week to transition your animal to the new hay bale will make a difference in helping them adapt to the new hay and avoiding a potential bloat.
NOTE: Rarely is hay hot, but every now and again, you will get a bale. So be prepared to identify the signs of bloat and digestive upset and the steps to rememdy the bloat.
The livestock feed industry has many feed brands that offer a variety of choices.
They are not all alike: Remember that each mix is:
- Designed to meet different nutritional goals.
- Each has different requirements for protein, fats and minerals for proper bone development and maintenance.
Consult with your local feed dealer or the PetsandProjects.com/Feed Tab to see which feed is best suited to meet your market goals.
Transitioning between Feeds:
- 2 bags of Current Feed
- 2 bags of New Feed
- Probiotic Paste