Tips for feeding special needs horses in the winter
Preventing winter weight gain in easy keepers.
- Some horses gain weight when given a winter break from trail riding, training, and/or showing.
- Monitor your horse’s weight carefully during breaks and, if necessary, back off on concentrates.
- When you feed less than the recommended amounts of a commercial concentrate, you need to supplement with a complete vitamin and mineral pellet (Micro-Phase ™) to ensure your horse’s nutrient requirements are met.
- Never cut back on hay to reduce calorie intake; instead, change to a more mature grass hay that will provide plenty of fiber but less energy.
Weight loss in hard keepers and how to avoid a winter energy crisis.
- Long hair coats often mask weight loss, so monitor your horse’s weight carefully. Regular body condition scoring is beneficial. Don’t wait to increase calories; do it at the first sign of weight loss.
- Provide free-choice high-quality forage 24/7, when possible.
- When additional calories are needed, add a high-fat supplement (Equi-Jewel®) to the diet. Avoid feeding large amounts of concentrates high in starch and sugar, as they increase the risk of colic and laminitis.
- Provide a digestive tract supplement (Neigh-Lox® Advanced) to ensure digestive health and stimulate the appetite.
Careful winter management reduces the risk of health problems in metabolically challenged horses.
- Winter can be a risky time for metabolically challenged horses. Research has shown that cold weather causes greater variability in a horse’s insulin levels. Additionally, horses tend to exercise less when it is cold, which can cause insulin levels to increase.
- Continue feeding a low starch and sugar diet throughout the winter months.
- If your horse is on medication or supplements to help control metabolic disease, continue to use them as prescribed.
- Keep a close eye on your horse and check in with your vet if you see any foot soreness or other out-of-the-ordinary behavior.
- When additional calories are needed to keep your horse warm in cold weather, increase the amount of grass hay you feed.
- If you need even more calories to maintain body weight or provide energy, add a high-fat supplement (Equi-Jewel®) that is low in starch and sugar to the diet.
Article written by KPP staff.
Copyright (C) 2014 Kentucky Performance Products, LLC. All rights reserved.
Article sponsored by Neigh-Lox Advanced; healthy digestive tract formula. Blend of ingredients that work synergistically to support both a healthy foregut and hindgut so horses utilize feed more efficiently, feel better, and eat better.
When health issues arise, always seek the advice of a licensed veterinarian who can help you choose the correct course of action for your horse. Supplements are intended to maintain healthy systems and support recovery and healing. They are not intended to treat or cure illness or injury.
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Since 1998, Kentucky Performance Products has simplified a horse owner’s search for research-proven nutritional horse supplements that meet the challenges facing modern horses. KPP horse supplements target specific nutritional needs and are formulated to complement today’s feeds, thus safeguarding against over-supplementation. Each product is scientifically formulated and made with high-quality ingredients at certified manufacturing facilities. Kentucky Performance Products is proud to offer a quality assurance promise backed by a money-back guarantee. Kentucky Performance Products brings you horse supplements you can count on because the horse that matters to you, matters to us.