Most horses will maintain their weight easily over the spring and summer months when grazing is of good quality and plentiful. However, come Autumn through to Winter we see horses struggling to maintain their condition, why is this?
The first reason is that for those grazing the quality of grass has decreased along with its availability, and for those stabled throughout the winter months they may not be receiving enough forage or are receiving low quality forage. In both cases the first thing we want to look at is increasing the quality and availability of forage. We can do this by offering soft leafy forage offered at ad-lib either in the stable or by using a round feeder for those turned out on pasture. This will ensure that your horses forage requirement of 1.5% of bodyweight is achieved, as well as helping to increase the nutrition that they are receiving from their forage. Remember forage = heat production, so an increase in forage will also help your horse heat themselves from the inside out, as fibre fermentation produces heat!
While fibre is vital for a healthy hindgut, which helps your horse get the most from his feed, it may not be calorific enough to maintain or promote weight gain. Therefore, we must look at providing a concentrate feed within the diet to meet your horse’s basic nutrient requirements and to increase their calorie (energy) intake. At Bluegrass we have a variety of conditioning feeds to meet the needs of all horses. Our conditioning feeds contain ‘Super Fibres’ such as beet pulp or soy hulls as they are highly digestible and safer to feed than cereal grains due to their fibrous nature which reduces the likelihood of starch overload. Conditioning feeds also contain high levels of oil as well as stabilised rice bran, as fat boosts the calorie density of the horse’s ration helping to maintain and promote condition. Bluegrass products such as Cool N Condition Cubes, Prime Conditioning Mix, Re-Solve Cubes and Re-Leve Mix are all fully fortified and will provide a calorie dense diet.
Beyond the basics of water, hay and a concentrate feed we also need to ensure the comfort of our horses by looking at a few more details:
- Horses should have access to shelter from extreme weather, this can be a barn, run in shed or a grove of trees.
- Rug according to your horses’ individual needs, metabolism, clip type and whether they are stabled or not, ensuring to check rug fit and any signs of discomfort daily.
- Owners should ensure horses have proper dental care and a targeted worming programme so that feed can be properly digested and utilized.
- Horse that are stabled in the winter should receive daily turnout to exhibit natural behaviours and reduce stress.
- Horses should be inspected daily to identify any injuries, skin problems or rug issues.
Don’t forget if you need any advice our expert team are here to help, we will answer any queries you have. We will also help you, make feeding simple and ensure your horse remains at an ideal condition throughout the winter, so head to our website, drop us a message or give us a call.