Winter can be a tricky time of year, good doers are feeling hungry but shouldn't have too many calories and other horses may be prone to weight loss. Here are 5 tips to help you this season.
1. Seek advice
If you are at all unsure about your horse's diet this winter call the feed helpline of a reputable company for expert advice.
2. Go easy on OAPs
If you have a veteran with bad teeth, feed softer, leafy hays. These will be easier to chew and more digestible, which will help the horse get more nutrition from forage.
3. Watch out for winter laminitis
Unfortunately laminitis is not just a spring time issue. Sugar levels can acccumulate in pasture on cold, bright mornings. This is because the grass photosynthesises (produces sugar) but doesn't grow- and it is the growing process that would normally use up sugar. If your horse or pony is prone to laminitis you should try to avoid turning him out during these conditions.
4. Show tough love
For good doers, feed tougher hay which is harder to digest and therefore lesss likely to cause weight gain. The less nutritious the hay is, the more a good doer can have without putting on weight. If your horse is very overweight feed good quality barley straw mixed with hay. This will reduce boredom and prevent ulcers as he is able to eat ad lib forage without adding to his weight.
5. Make a plan
If your horse lost weight last winter, feed a conditioning mix or nuts as soon as the grass quality declines or the weather gets colder, and slowly increase the levels. Weigh your horse regularly so you can spot any changes.
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