Horses usually love winter weather, but the change in temperature does have an effect how you should manage your horse.
This week Dr. Steve Duren, a world renowned equine nutritionist and the expert behind LMF horse feed formulas, joined Dr. Brett Bauscher on the D&B Supply Ask a Vet podcast (download the podcast or visit our Audio page). During that podcast both Dr. Duren and Dr. Bauscher discussed how to care for and product animals during the winter months.
In response to the podcast, here are four tips that will help you better care for your horse this winter.
No. 1: Provide Lots of Water
Water, according to Dr. Duren, is the single most important element in a horse’s diet anytime of the year, so be sure that you’re providing plenty of water. You need to keep that water from freezing too. In fact, many horses will not drink if the water’s temperature falls below 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Bottom line, invest in a water heater and check your horse’s water supply regularly.
No. 2: Feed More Hay
A horse should eat about 2 percent of this body weight in hay each day. So — to make the math easy — a 1,000-pound horse needs something like 20 pounds of hay daily. What’s more, horses use hay for heat.
“The main way that horses produce heat for warmth in the winter,” explained Dr. Duren in the Ask a Vet podcast, “is fermentation of fiber. …their hind gut bacteria ferments hay, and when they ferment that [hay] it produces heat, and that’s actually what keeps a horse warm… [so] to keep a horse warm in the winter, increase the volume of hay” that you feed.
No. 3: Keep You the Exercise
Horses are generally happy in relatively cold weather and should be willing to get exercise even when the temperature has fallen. It is a good idea to try and keep a horse’s actively level consistent year around.
No. 4: Provide Wind Shelter
As mentioned several times already, horses do well in winter. They may even stand in falling snow, but wind can chill a horse to the proverbial bone. Be sure to give your horse someplace to get out of the wind.