Winter Feeding Tips

Winter Feeding Tips

With winter will come wet, cooler weather and some horses may struggle to maintain a desirable body condition. Below are some feeding tips to assist in feed management during winter.

Hay: Horses require a minimum of 1.5% of their body weight in hay, chaff or pasture daily on a dry matter basis. Therefore if pasture is limited, ensure hay and or haylage is provided to make up the shortfall. Being aware that haylage will have a lower dry matter content than hay therefore it will need to be fed at higher intakes by weight to meet the horses daily requirement. This is particularly important to remember if horses are boxed or yarded and all fibre is supplemented.

More Fibre: Additional fibre can be added to the feed bin in the form of Dunstan’s Beets. Dunstan Sugarbeet is a ‘superfibre’, providing more calories per kg than traditional fibre sources, so they are great for winter weight gain as well as providing valuable fibre to the diet. Two forms of beet provide choice for horse owners, Dunstan Betabeet Flakes (a non molassed beet) ideal when a lower sugar supplement is desired or Dunstan Sugarbeet Flakes (beet with added molasses).

Increase supplementary feed intake: Horses burn more calories over winter to keep warm. This combined with less pasture, means it is necessary for owners to make up this calorie shortfall. Sometimes it may be as simple as increasing the amount of current supplementary feed being fed. Often horse owners over estimate the amount of hardfeed being provided, weighing feed is the only way to confirm daily intakes. Knowing feed weights will provide a accurate guide for following the recommended feeding rates.

Move to a higher energy feed: If you are feeding a high intake of low calorie hardfeed transitioning to a more calorie dense feed will provide more calories per kg to achieve weight gain.

Add a calorie-dense supplement: Another simple and effective change can be to add a calorie dense feed stuff to the existing ration. The base of the diet remains the same and by adding a low intake calorie dense supplement you are increasing the overall calorie intake of the ration to achieve desired weight gains. Both Dunstan Extruded Rice and Dunstan Muscle n’ Shine are ideal to use in this situation adding calories and assisting with both body condition and ‘topline’ development. Intakes vary from 250grams to 1kg per day added into the current ration.

Add some Oil: Oil can also be added to the feed to provide more calories for weight gain. Great when you are unable to feed more feed but still need to provide more calories. Using a blended oil such as Dunstan Trifecta Oil is ideal, providing a combination of Fatty Acids, Omega 6, 9 and Omega 3. Oils need to be introduced gradually but intakes can be built up on average to 250ml per day if required.

The options above provide a variety of ways to increase your horse’s daily energy intake and therefore achieve desired weight gains. The option you choose will depend on your horse’s personal preferences, pasture availability, age, temperament and your current supplementary feed regime.

If you would like any assistance with your horses ration please contact Dunstan on 0800 438 678 or



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