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 in summer. Coming into the new year and leading up to competition seasons, exercise regimes and workloads are increasing, and our horses are expending a lot of energy without it necessarily being replaced as we would normally expect. Extra energy will have been also consumed in keeping warm through the cold periods, which is also a consideration.
It’s easy to see why, if we don’t adapt our feeding techniques over winter, that our horses will struggle to maintain the weight characteristics we want for and from them in these conditions.
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 the hay, haylage and grazing.
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 overnight to help keep them warm and replace energy levels and reserves.
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 may be a problem. You may consider moving 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. To learn more about Pure Condition click here.