Tips for feeding your horses at your Charlottesville horse farm.
As the weather gets colder, owners of Charlottesville horse farms should make necessary adjustments to their horses’ feeding program to prepare for the winter. What are the changes you need to do? Here are some tips to help you prepare to adjust your feeding program for your horses for the colder temperatures.
Horses usually decrease their water consumption as the temperatures get colder. Make sure that your horses have access to clean, fresh water, even when temperatures go below freezing. Make sure to check your water sources are not frozen. You may also want to consider providing your horses with warm water to encourage them to drink and/ or electrolytes to avoid dehydration. If you are adding electrolytes to the water and not giving an oral supplements, give your horses a second water bucket in case they don’t like to drink flavored electrolyte water.
Monitor your Horse’s Body Condition
Make sure to monitor your horse’s weight regularly, at least every few weeks leading to the winter months. Don’t make the mistake of just relying on how long or thick the horse’s hair coat is since this is not truly indicative of the horse’s real condition. Additional feeding may be necessary to maintain your horse’s healthy weight during the winter months.
If your horse is overweight, reduce its calorie intake from grain before you reduce the amount of forage. If the horse is underweight, increase the amount of forage or change it to a more nutritious type. To maintain a horse’s weight, you may need to add calories from concentrates or fat sources.
The most common source of forage for the horses in your Virginia horse farm is hay. Hay can offer a significant amount of a horse’s daily nutritional needs, depending on the type of grass and harvest time. Hay also gives the horse the required amount of fiber for its hindgut health.
If you have a shortage of hay, consider using alternative sources of forage to help stretch your forage supply like beet pulp, hay cubes, and complete feeds. The heat created by digesting hay is greater than the heat created by digesting concentrates, meaning hay helps your horses save more energy to produce body heat and stay warmer during the cold winter months.
Owners of Charlottesville horse farms need to prepare not only their homes, but also their horses for winter. Monitoring a horse’s condition, checking its water and forage supply, and carefully adjusting your horse’s feeding program to meet its nutritional needs will ensure that your horses stay healthy even during the colder winter months. If you need help in adjusting your horse’s feeding program for winter, consult a veterinarian or an equine nutritionist.