Seasonal Diet Changes for Horses
Changing seasons can bring about potential problems for horses and horse owners.
Changing seasons also mean drastic swings in weather conditions and temperatures. This, combined with a major diet adjustment of moving from pasture to hay, can increase the chance of digestive disturbances. When nighttime temperatures drop in the winter, it becomes too chilly for plants to grow and the sugars are stored for later use. This leads to a concentration of stored sugars in the plants, which may increase the risk of digestive upset or laminitis in some horses. Horses at most risk are those that are significantly overweight or those that have trouble managing normal blood sugar levels and are sensitive to sugar content in the diet.
While not scientifically proven, many horse owners and veterinarians have experienced what appears to be an association between changes in barometric pressure and the incidence of colic episodes in horses. A dramatic drop in temperature often causes horses to drink less water, and at the same time, horse owners will often increase the amount of hay fed to help horses stay warm. More hay and less water consumption together may lead to impaction colic.
As we move into fall and winter, hay becomes the major forage source for many horses. Switching from pasture to hay or getting a new supply of hay represents as big a change to the horse as a change in grain. These significant dietary adjustments should ideally be made gradually to decrease the risk of digestive upset. Horses should be fed good-quality hay to maximize nutrition and minimize potential digestive problems. Good-quality hay, of any variety, will be clean and have outlying characteristics. These include a high leaf-to-stem ratio, small-diameter stems, few seed heads or blooms, fresh smell and appearance, and bright color. Ark Country Store is here to help with all of your foraging needs.
Winter is a season of transition and an important time to evaluate the quality of forage available for your horse. Find out whether the grain ration is appropriate and adequate to meet your horse’s nutrient requirements. When winter arrives, horses must be in good condition to be able to withstand colder temperatures.
Stop by Ark Country Store today to prepare your horses for this cold winter season.
Source: Purina Mills