Winter Feeding – Considerations
Winter is certainly not a horse owner’s favourite time of the year. Along with the cold, dark and mud, many horses struggle to maintain condition, making it difficult to have them looking their best when the season gets underway.
There are a number of things to consider about your horse and his or her individual circumstances when developing a winter feeding plan.
- Their current body condition
- Will they remain in work over winter?
- Their temperament
- How much access to pasture and the quality of the pasture
- Will they be boxed /yarded?
If your horse is underweight coming into winter it will be very important to implement a feed plan that provides a good increase in daily calorie contribution as soon as possible. Not only does your horse need to intake more calories for weight gain it also needs to contend with the conditions winter brings - cold, wet and in most instances reduction in pasture availability and quality.
If the horse is in good health i.e. has no health issues that may limit its ability to put on condition, it will a matter of looking at the existing feeding regime and ensuring an increase in supplementary feed.
Fibre First! If pasture is limited, ensure the horse has access to plenty of quality hay or haylage to make up this shortfall. This will not only provide calories, it will also assist in ensuring the horse’s minimum daily requirements are satisfied, which is critical for digestive health.
Hay will also help keep horses warm due to the extra heat generated during its digestion.
Further fibre can be added to the feed with the inclusion of Dunstan Beet:
As Dunstan Beets are super-fibres, they have more calories per kg than traditional fibre sources. Not only do they provide more calories than many other fibre sources for weight gain, they also add additional fibre to the ration to assist with maintaining digestive health.
Dunstan provides two beet options for horse owners to allow them to choose the beet product which best suits the requirements of their individual equine.
Further fibre options are Equifibre Lucerne Pro and Equifibre Meadow Pro, two variants of ensiled products which provide horse owners with great choice. These palatable forage supplements will bulk out the ration with more fibre - great for horses spending time in boxes or yards, with limited pasture and when feeding out hay is difficult in mob situations.
Move to a higher energy feed?
Horses that are light require an increase in total daily calorie intake. This can come from increasing the intake of the current feed or moving to a higher energy feed which will provide more calories per kg. If you weigh your feed and you are not feeding the recommended intakes appropriate for the size of your horse, simply increase the intake of the existing ration. Alternatively if you are feeding high intakes of a lower energy feed it may be appropriate to move to a more calorie-dense feed. For example, if feeding Dunstan Coolfeed you may move to Dunstan Maxim Low-GI. The feed you choose will of course need to be suitable for the temperament of the horse.
If the feed you are feeding suits the horse, then you may be reluctant to make a complete change, and adding in a ‘little something’ to the mix may be the answer!
Adding a ‘Little Something’
Dunstan has two great calorie-dense supplements that are intended to be added to a ‘full feed’ to boost overall calorie contribution as well as assist with coat quality and ‘topline’
Vitamins and minerals are not added to Dunstan Extruded Rice (with added Rice Bran oil) and therefore it can be incorporated into the existing ration to provide further calories without doubling up on vitamin and mineral contribution. Add Dunstan Extruded Rice into the existing ration at 500grams to 1.5kg daily. Alternatively, Dunstan Muscle n Shine can be included at 250grams to 1kg daily. Dunstan Muscle ‘n Shine does include added vitamins and minerals so will help to ‘top-up’ requirements if there is a slight shortfall in the current ration.
Calories without More Feed
Unfortunately some owners are only able to feed their horses once a day and this can make it difficult to get additional condition on their horses. Sometimes it is not appropriate to just make the feeds larger, as due to the small size of the horse’s stomach, it is recommended that no more than 2kg of concentrate be fed in a single meal (based on a 500kg horse). However, adding some oil to the ration will increase the calorie intake without the horse having to consume more feed. Oil also provides a ‘cool’ energy source, ideal for horses that do not tolerate addition grain in the ration.
Dunstan Trifecta Oil is a blend of vegetable oils to provide the important fatty acids Omega 6, 9 and 3. A natural antioxidant based on extract of Rosemary and Vitamin E is included to optimize shelf life and product stability.
To assist in your horse putting that feed to good use over winter for weight gain, ensure that he/she has plenty of good shelter and/or is well rugged.
If you are struggling with the winter feeding woes and would like some assistance with the best feeding options for your horse please contact Dunstan:
Ph 0800 438 678