What can contribute to a lack of available energy and weight loss?
At this time of year, horses aren’t getting the calories and nutritional benefits from grazing that they do during the summer months. Coming into the new year and leading up to competition seasons, often our horse’s exercise regimes and workloads increase. Extra energy is also consumed in maintaining normal body temperature in winter.
Our horses are expending a lot of energy without it necessarily being replaced as we would normally expect. If we don’t adapt our feeding techniques over winter, our horses can struggle to maintain weight and the work we want from them.
What can I do to help?
If this period of cold weather continues, there are some simple and effective ways of helping. But remember this is only temporary and as soon as the spring and its fresh flush of grass arrive, our challenges with our horses will change.
It is likely that our horses are currently receiving less than the normal intake of good stuff from hay, haylage and grazing. They may be under an increased workload and/or climate conditions, meaning they need more nutritional support. Make sure they have access to grazing or a good quality forage supply in the stable to help keep them warm and replace energy levels and reserves.
Our golden oldies can struggle to consume enough forage in winter if they have poor dentition and cannot manage long fibres. If this is the case, a soaked hay replacer or short chop chaff can be used to replace or top up their forage intake.
Pure Meadow Mash
Vitamins and minerals
The nutritional value of grazing decreases in cold weather and horses are often on restricted turnout due to the weather. This can lead to our horses lacking some of the essential nutrients from their diet.
A feed balancer containing all of the required vitamins and minerals alongside high-quality amino acids, such as our Pure Balance, should be included in horse’s feed to ensure they are receiving a fully balanced diet.
High calorie feeds
Consider all the contributing factors and the demands that we are putting on our horses at this time of year. It is no wonder that maintaining weight and condition with some horses can be a problem. You may need to move your horse onto a feed with a higher oil content such as Pure Condition; a fibre-based feed perfect for horses that may have dropped off in weight over winter.
A high oil feed can also be added to our horse’s diets to increase their calorie and protein intake. Linseed is perfect for the job as it is low in sugar and starch so won’t cause diet related excitable behaviour but will provide extra calories to support weight maintenance.
Don’t forget that hard feed and supplements should only provide up to 30% – 40% of the horse’s energy requirement. What is often overlooked and must not be marginalised is that the balance of 60% to 70% needs to come from hay, haylage and grazing.
Pure Feed Nutrition Team
If you have any questions on your mind about feeding your horse during the winter months please contact our nutrition team. They will be happy to offer advice over the phone on 01458 333 333 or by email at [email protected]. If you are looking to make a change to your horse’s diet you can also request a personalised diet plan for your horse here.