During the cooler month’s horse’s energy level requirements increase in order to help maintain their body temperature and to keep warm. Their need for additional energy increases to assist with heat production and as the weather gets colder, we sometimes need to adjust our feed to accommodate these changes. Managing your horses’ weight in winter can be hard especially if they are getting a bit older, however there are many ways we can help them get through winter and have them come out in tip top shape for springtime.
A few points to take into consideration to help Manage weight in winter are:
- You may think the first thing to do to increase your horse’s energy is to increase your grain or premix feed, however the most important ingredient to manage is their fibre intake ie roughage. Grain is an instant source of energy whereas fibre is digested in the hind gut and the fermentation process that occurs during digestion provides additional heat.
- During winter we advise increasing your horse’s roughage provision to between 1.5% to 1.75% of its own body weight. This will help your horse maintain their body weight through winter, assist in heat production and also help to maintain optimum Gastrointestinal Health.
- It is also important to ensure you are feeding quality roughage. If your horse does drop condition and you are feeding the recommended amounts maybe look at the quality, it may not be providing the energy and nutrients your horse requires during winter.
- Grass quality and growth is reduced during winter which limits the amount your horse consumes and the level of vital nutrients a horse would naturally get from pasture. You can counteract this by ensuring you increase their roughage provision and by also considering a multivitamin supplement. Supplementing their feed with a product such as Ranvet Ration Balancer will ensure they are getting all their daily requirements.
Healthy Body Condition Score
- Having that healthy score will ensure your horse has adequate fat stores for insulation and increased energy requirements. The addition of an oil such as Ranvet Grand Prix oil provides an additional energy source helping to maintain good body condition throughout the colder months. Adding an oil to you horses diet is a great way to increase calories without having to increase their amount of feed.
Rugging & Shelter
- You can also do that little bit extra to help manage weight during winter by putting a paddock rug on your horse to provide some extra warmth or if available stable them at night this can help as your horse won’t have to use as much of its stored reserves to keep warm.
If you are concerned that your horses current diet may not be meeting its nutritional requirements for winter, please feel free to complete our online Diet Evaluation Services and one of our nutritionists can tailor a feed plan your horse.
Written by Selena Phillis