It's Freezing Outside! Top Winter Horse Nutrition Tips
By: Dr. Rob McCoy PhD
Frigid temperatures have many of us longing for the warm, sunny days of spring. For now, though, we simply turn up the heat and bundle up to stay warm. What about our horses? What can we do to make winter comfortable for our equine friends?
Manna Pro’s Dr. Rob McCoy holds a PhD in Animal Nutrition and says that in addition to proper shelter, good nutrition and hydration, the following tips are important to helping our horses manage winter conditions:
- Horses tend to drink less water as temperatures fall. When this is combined with increased forage consumption, it can lead to impaction and colic. Provide your horse with plenty of water -- at least 8 to 12 gallons daily. Snow is not a good substitute as it forces a horse to burn calories to melt the snow. Consider using a water heater if you live in an area that has regular freezing. Providing warm water will encourage your horse to consume more.
- Weight loss is a common problem in winter, as horses use more calories to keep themselves warm. A drop in body weight makes it more difficult to tolerate the cold. Feed horse supplements with a high quality fat source such as Max-E-GloTMStabilized Rice Bran. It is highly digestible and offers extra calories to safely promote weight gain and help your horse maintain a healthy weight. Fat works like a layer of insulation under the skin and will increase warmth and energy in winter.
- Bolster your horse's immune system. Overall health and well-being are especially important during a long winter and can help your horse better adapt to changing temperatures. Max-E-Glo provides natural vitamin E and antioxidants to support a healthy immune system. Sho-Glo® Vitamin and Mineral Supplement is another option, providing important anti-oxidants including vitamins A, C and E.
- Muscle and joint stiffness can be an issue for horses when winter conditions keep them in their stalls for long periods of time. Try a combined glucosamine and chondroitin horse supplement with a formula like Sho-Flex® Joint Supplement, which provides essential nutrients for maintaining joint cartilage and connective tissue.