angle-left Feeding and Caring for Horses in Winter

Feeding and Caring for Horses in Winter

Prepare your horse for the colder months with these winter feeding and care tips.
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Horse care in the winter can be tough for horses and humans, if not prepared for ahead of time. The nutritional needs of most horses will change during the winter months, due to the changes in the weather and environment. 

Heed these winter horse-care tips to help keep your equine friend safe and happy in the colder months:

Preparing Horses for Winter

  • If a horse tends to lose weight in the winter, increasing his body condition score by one point could be beneficial. Monitor your horse in the fall and spring to establish your plan of action to maintain his winter BCS.
  • Always float teeth and deworm several weeks before winter.
  • Exercise tends to be limited in the winter. Watch easy-keepers to make sure they don’t reach an unhealthy body condition score.

Water 

  • Horses drink an average of 10-12 gallons of water per day. Fresh water should be available at all times. Break ice several times a day if heated water tanks are not an option.
  • If a horse goes off feed, check his water. Horses will not eat if they are thirsty.

Roughage/Forage 

  • A horse’s energy requirements increase by 1 percent for every degree below 16 F. Digesting forage creates more heat than digesting grain, so provide ample hay when conditions are harsh.
  • Remember, during the winter months, pasture sources decrease.
  • When selecting a quality roughage or forage, make sure it is clean, dust- and mold-free, of necessary nutritional value and free from contaminants.
  • Test the protein, fiber, minerals, vitamins and energy to assist in properly balancing your horse’s diet.
  • Feed as often as possible and no less than two or three times per day, since horses require roughage continually and regularly.

Quality Feed and Feed Supplements 

  • Supplement your horse’s daily roughage or forage intake with a quality feed that will sufficiently balance out the protein, fiber, minerals, vitamins and energy.
  • Some horses also require feed supplements during the winter, such as minerals, vitamins or micro-nutrients.

Utilize your own experience and guidance from your vet to adjust your horse’s diet and care for optimal health this winter.