16 Feb Autumn horse feeding tips
As the autumn cool down begins, it’s time to think about making dietary changes you may need to make to your horse’s feeding regiment in preparation for winter. In this article, we discuss some of the things you should consider as you adjust your horse’s nutrition program for the colder weather.
Horses typically decrease their water intake as the weather becomes cooler. To ensure that your horse is taking in an appropriate amount of water you should ensure that it always has access to a fresh source. Also, monitor the water temperature and consider adding warmer water to encourage drinking – you don’t want your horse to dehydrate.
Another thing to consider is providing your horse with electrolytes either through an oral supplement or adding flavoured electrolyte water to a new bucket.
Hay will become one of the most common things your horse feeds on as the weather cools. This will cover most of your horse’s daily nutritional needs and will also fulfill its daily fibre requirements.
If you don’t have access to enough hay though, consider alternative forage sources, including beet pulp, complete feeds and hay cubes.
Ensuring your horse has access to plenty of hay will be of great benefit in maintaining its body temperature as each day becomes cooler. This is because the heat that your horse will produce by digesting hay is greater than the heat it will produce trying to digest concentrates.
Monitor body condition
It’s important to monitor your horse’s body condition every couple of weeks leading up to and during winter in order to keep its weight optimal. If you don’t have access to a scale then the most effective way for you to check your horse’s body fat levels is through body conditioning scoring.
By doing this, you will be able to determine if your horse is over- or under-conditioned. If it’s the former then reduce the amount of grains your horse intakes, followed by forage (if necessary). If your horse is under-conditioned then increase the amount of forage it consumes or change to a different type of forage.
That’s a wrap
Overall, colder weather means you need to monitor your horse’s body fat levels and nutritional program more closely. Autumn should serve as a period where you slowly adjust your horse’s nutritional program in preparation for winter.