Feeding Horses During Winter: The Basics

a girl feeding a horseWinter is currently in full swing. During this time of the year, there are several changes in terms of horse care. One of the major changes involves feeding. One can’t just choose any animal feed or any other type of food and run with it. Here are some important factors to consider when feeding horses during winter.

The Right Food Combos

Horses require a good amount of fibre, more so in wintertime. Fibre helps keep the digestive system healthy, which is critical when it’s cold. Fibre-rich feeds are great choices, including hay. The latter can help keep the horse warm because digesting it produces heat.

Another important factor is portions. The more the temperature drops, the more food is required. This rings true for feeds. Horses need at least 1% more food for every temperature drop below the critical level. More food means more heat. Keep in mind as well that thinner horses or those with short hair will need more to compensate and keep warm.

Rely More on Feeds

Grazing can be tough during winter. There is less forage and limited sunlight to keep the horses comfortable, after all. Compensate for this with high concentrate feeds. Ensure that the feed has vitamin A, D, and E. If there are choices with probiotics and biotin, choose them as well. Fortunately, there are a lot of choices in local markets that fit almost every age and type of horse.

Keep in mind, however, that cold weather doesn’t always mean more rations required. Consider the horse’s weight and overall body condition before increasing rations. Nutritionists can provide expert insight if the horse’s state of health isn’t clear.

Don’t Forget Water

Water is a given. Keep the horse hydrated, especially during the cold months when grazing is limited. In stable, ensure that troughs are clean and filled. If there’s a chance that they’re frozen, break the ice and remove it. Then again, hydration is critical whether it’s cold or warm out.