Horse feed

Feeding horses during winter holidays

The majority of horses will have some kind of winter holiday where you reduce how much work they do. In some cases it can be three to four weeks to get through the coldest part of the year. In others it could be several months. Whatever the situation, you will need to adapt the horse feed. It is important to maximising the health of your horses.

Why is the change necessary?

If you don’t adapt what you are feeding a horse during a winter break, it can result in weight gain. That happens because the reduction in activity will mean the animal is burning fewer calories. If they still have a diet that is heavy in calories, starch, and sugar, they will put on weight.

You may also find your horses suffer from excitability and anxiousness during their winter break if you don’t adapt the feed. It happens because of sugar and starch in the diet. They can cause hormone fluctuations.

Another issue you may have is a horse could suffer from tying up (ERM). This is a disturbance in muscle function that can lead to painful cramping and muscle damage. If you retain a high energy diet but suddenly reduce exercise levels, this can be the outcome. Some horses are more susceptible to it too because of their genetics.

Case by case

The thing to keep in mind here is to change the horse feed on a case by case basis. Some horses may need to gain weight over their winter holiday, so you don’t need to make dramatic changes to their diet. Other may need to lose weight, so you can reduce calories to a minimum. In some cases horses may be having a longer break or have a really big drop in activity. Here you will likely need to stop hard feed.

A good rule though is to make adjustments gradually, both in terms of level of exercise and amount of feed. It can help the horses to adjust.

Another general rule is it is easier to reduce the amount of hard feed in a diet. You can do this faster than you can introduce it originally. All you have to do is ensure there is enough forage available.

If you do adapt the feed you may need to look at supplements and balancers. This way you can still ensure your horse gets the right amount of vitamins and minerals. It is especially important if you remove hard feed entirely and switch to forage. Plus, you need to make sure they still get enough salt.

Get it right with horse feed in winter

JS Hubbuck Ltd is a company you can trust to supply the high quality products you need. We don’t just choose any old items. We take the time to learn about everything we stock so we know it is right for our customers. That way we can also give them the best recommendations.

If you are thinking about adapting horse feed this winter to give animals a break, we hope you find the tips above useful. You can also come to us to order products or get in touch if you need help choosing.