Horses Need Proper Feeding in Winter

Don’t let winter get the better of your horse. Find out what to consider when feeding when the temperatures drop.
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In many parts of the country, winter means increased stable time, decreased riding time and significantly different nutrient requirements for horses, said Louisiana State University AgCenter equine specialist Neely Walker, MS, PhD. And despite mild winters in other parts of the country, decreased temperatures and wet conditions will affect the demands on the horse’s body for heat production.

A horse’s energy requirements start to increase once the temperature drops below the animal’s critical temperature or the horse’s natural comfort zone. “Your horse’s critical temperature will depend on his current nutritional status, environmental temperatures, wind, and wet hair coats,” Walker said.

When planning the winter menu for a horse, keep in mind that the lower critical temperature for a horse is approximately 40 degrees, she said. “For every one degree lower, you should increase your horse’s feed intake by 1% of its body weight.”

For example, she said, a 1,000-pound horse should receive an additional two pounds of hay when the temperature drops 10 degrees (for example, from 40 degrees to 30 degrees)

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