Every winter we, as horse owners, lovers and friends, have concerns about how the condition and performance of our equines will stand up to the increased physical demand that these colder months present.
Feeding horses during the winter months requires careful attention to their nutritional needs and the challenges posed by colder temperatures. Here are some feeding tips to help you during this time:
Regularly assess your horse's body condition score (BCS) throughout the winter. A BCS of 5 to 6 is generally considered ideal.
If your horse's workload remains the same during winter, you may not need to consider an increase in their concentrate feed. However, if your horse is working harder or has a higher energy requirement due to cold weather, you may need to adjust the amount and type of concentrate feed. This should always be done gradually and not without consulting a feeding specialist.
Ensure your horse has access to clean, drinkable water at all times. Monitoring water intake is crucial in winter, as horses may reduce their water consumption due to cold temperatures. Insufficient water intake can be detrimental to the digestive process and can be the cause of abdominal discomfort, colic and loss of condition.
Horses need additional calories in order to maintain their body temperature, and condition in the cooler weather. In the hind gut of the horse, microorganisms break down the fibrous plant material through fermentation. As they digest the complex carbohydrates, they release energy in the form of heat. Providing more hay, or other high-fibre roughage supplements, will allow your horse to meet increased energy requirements as well as maintain a suitable body temperature.
Spurwing’s fully balanced rations are all based on high fibre principles. This makes them suitable for feeding year-round, with very little adjustment in the winter months- making them ideal for maintaining the optimal condition and performance of your horse.
At Spurwing, we advocate the giving of good quality roughage or hay ad-lib – particularly in winter.
If grazing is available, it is likely that the quality of this will have suffered due to the change in season. Ad-lib roughage will ensure that your horse can trickle feed, as designed, and prevent the many digestive issues seen when not enough hay is available.
During winter months, when the quality of grazing and roughage has a noticeable impact on condition and performance, we offer additional roughage supplements.
Spurwing Lucerne Conditioner mix –Contains the Cape’s premium lucerne as well as full fat soya to provide your horse with a conditioning mix of nutrients that promotes hindgut health and improves overall body condition. The elevated fibre and fat levels make it an ideal, protein rich, winter supplement.
Spurwing Hay Presto - A mix of high quality oat hay, conveniently bagged and cut to optimum length in order to support digestibility, is lightly sweetened to provide palatability. Oat hay is incredibly high in fibre and therefore encourages thorough chewing and elevate saliva production which also aids the digestive process.
Adding a small amount of fat to your horse's diet can provide extra calories and help maintain body condition during winter. For our horses in hard work, those that are fussy eaters, horses on poor grazing or mares in foal and lactating , Spurwing has specially designed a highly digestible, protein rich Energy Supplement that promotes weight gain and gives your horse the readily bioavailable additional calories that they need to maintain condition and performance.
Our wide variety of high fibre rations, incorporating Lucerne, red grass and oat hay, will assist in supporting your horses every day and winter-feeding requirements. Not only do they assist with additional fibre, but also with full fat soya and a full vitamin and mineral content.
Remember, every horse is unique, and their nutritional requirements may vary. Consider consulting a feeding specialist who can assess your horse's specific needs and provide tailored recommendations based on their age, breed, body condition, and workload.
Author- Adèle McLeod
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