Cooler weather is now upon us and once the temperature sinks below 45°F a horse’s body begins to utilize more energy in order to maintain body temperature. Hair coat, body condition, moisture and wind chill factor are important factors that will influence your horse’s energy expenditures during cold winter temperatures. Allowing your horse to develop a winter hair coat and gain weight for a higher body condition score will ensure they’re in a better position to manage the challenges of winter weather. The longer hair coat provides insulation and additional body weight can serve as an energy reserve during colder months.
Cold-Weather Management Tips
- Pay close attention to weather forecasts and make plans in advance for cold weather.
- Well-fed horses adapt reasonably well to cold weather, whereas underfed horses will lose weight, lose body condition and thus have less cold tolerance.
- Approximately 72 hours prior to colder conditions, begin increasing the amount of long stem hay fed and maintain the level determined during the cold period. The initial target should be a 10% increase.
- If your horse has difficulty maintaining body weight during winter, then not only increase long stem forage intake but also increase the concentrate intake. Try using a fat source such as oil or Integrity Rice Bran to increase the energy density of the balanced Integrity horse feed given to maintain body weight.
- Free access to water is always critical for your horse year-round. During the winter, attention to water temperature is equally critical. If your water trough is not heated then its critical to offer warmed water daily – up to 10 gallons per day.
Want to know more? We’ve got lots of additional feeding guidelines for horses here to ensure proper nutrition for your horse no matter the weather.