Winter Feeding for a Calm and Healthy Horse

Winter isn’t without its challenges, and this includes keeping your horse healthy, happy and looking their best. Inevitably shorter days and dismal weather can mean reduced turnout, irregular exercise and less hacking opportunities to blow the cobwebs away. Feeding plenty of forage to keep the horse occupied when stabled for longer also means keeping an eye on your horse’s waistline.

Fibre and oil for a calm ride

For a calmer ride research has shown that feeding sources of slow-release energy from fibre and oil is key. Using a feed that supplies an appropriate amount of energy for a reduced workload will not only help with a calmer ride but also help to keep the waistline in check as well.

Dengie Hi-Fi Molasses Free combines chopped and pelleted alfalfa and straw with a light rapeseed oil coating, mint, and fenugreek for added tastiness. Hi-Fi Molasses Free contains very low levels of energy, sugar and starch making it ideal for horses at rest or in light work that need to watch their weight or can be excitable. Simply combine with vitamins and minerals to balance the ration.

Maintaining skin, coat and hoof condition

UK pasture and forage typically lacks the trace minerals copper, selenium and zinc and conserved forage also lacks vitamin E. Ensuring a balanced ration and adding some extra beneficial nutrients such as biotin can help with the environmental challenges to your horse’s skin, coat and hooves in the winter.

Healthy Hooves Molasses Free combines chopped and pelleted alfalfa and straw with a light rapeseed oil coating, vitamins, minerals, garlic and MSM. Healthy Hooves Molasses Free provides a balanced ration when fed at the recommended quantity and includes biotin at the level found in a hoof supplement. MSM, which is a bio-available source of sulphur, is also included as it is a key component of keratin for joint support as well as good hoof, coat and skin condition. Grass is the natural source of sulphur for horses and those on restricted grazing may benefit.

Managing weight and digestive health

We all know that trickle feeding is vital for digestive and behavioural health but in the domestic environment ad-lib forage feeding can often result in obesity. Choosing low calorie fibre sources is key for weight management and keeping the horse chewing.

New Dengie Ulser Lite combines oat straw with dried grasses, grass and alfalfa pellets with a light rapeseed oil coating, ADM Protexin in-feed formula, that combines prebiotic and live yeast, and herbal blend. At 8MJ/kg Digestible Energy Ulser Lite is a low-calorie fibre feed to support digestive health that can also be used to partially or totally replace the forage ration making it an ideal alternative when only more calorific forage like haylage is available.

Straw – a low calorie fibre source

Winter weight loss in good do-ers or overweight horses is a vital step to getting them to or keeping them at a healthy weight long term. In the UK our conserved forages such as hay and haylage can be too calorific when fed ad-lib and straw as a lower calorie fibre can be very useful to mix in the forage ration to keep a horse chewing without the calories. Some people are nervous regarding straw use, but research using straw to replace 50% of the haylage ration found no detrimental effects on digestive health. Furthermore, it helped to slow the overall rate of intake of the total forage ration which in turn lessened insulin response which is good news for those with insulin dysregulation.

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