Prep Now for a Healthy Winter
Many horses tend to lose weight over the winter. While this isn’t necessarily worrisome, you may want to consider transitioning your horse to a high-calorie feed in the next month or keeping his body condition in prime shape. Be sure to evaluate his body condition now, and continue monitoring it regularly, so you can implement any necessary changes before losing too much weight.
Winter Weight Loss
For horses who don’t move south to compete over the winter, colder temperatures present some natural metabolism challenges. For example, it takes more energy for the horse to simply keep warm. Add to that the decreased pasture available to graze over winter, and you’ve got a calorie deficit on your hands. If your horse is older, has an underlying disease, or is still maintaining his regular workload, this deficit can have even more dramatic effects on his weight.
To increase your horse’s caloric intake, our first recommendation is to make sure you’re providing an energy-dense forage source. Try a legume hay, such as alfalfa or clover; legume hays have more energy than grass hays. Evaluate the hay for its nutrient content; hay with lots of leaf and stems usually indicates it was harvested at its peak.
In addition to high-energy forage, you may need to provide a high-fat horse feed. Because fat is so energy-dense (clocking in at 2½ to 3 times the energy of grains), high-fat horse feeds are an economical choice: you can add necessary calories without overfeeding your horse.
When choosing a high-fat horse feed, look for ingredients like vegetable oil, sunflower seeds, rice bran, linseed, and even soybeans. For horses in light to moderate work, a feed with 8-12% fat should provide the calories needed to prevent winter weight loss.
High-fat Horse Feed Recommendations
We offer several horse feeds that fall under the high-fat horse feed category:
• Fibrenergy contains 12% fat, no grain, high levels of beet pulp and chaff (chopped up timothy and alfalfa hay), along with Stamm 30 to ensure appropriate levels of protein, vitamins, and minerals
• Prep 14 contains 10% fat and high levels of beet pulp as well and is also fortified with Stamm 30
Keep in mind that any changes to your horse’s nutritional program need to be made gradually. This includes both forage and concentrates. Therefore, if you know you’ll need to add calories to prevent weight loss, we recommend starting to transition to the new forage and/or feed sooner rather than later.
Have questions on whether your horse will need to switch to a high-fat horse feed this winter? Reach out to us; we’d be glad to help you determine how to maintain your horse’s condition over the winter.