Can horses cope with sudden cold weather?
Horses can survive and even thrive in what we consider to be very inhospitable conditions, but they do need plenty of feed to fuel them and keep them warm.
When old hay is running low, or is not very good quality, we will want to start on the new hay as soon as possible. But when can we start using new hay?
Newly made hay continues to under-go changes even after it is baled. Traditionally, new hay was never fed to horses until Michaelmas at the end of September - when it was termed old hay!
In practice and under pressure of supplies, do not feed new hay until it has been baled at least 6 weeks and even then, keep a close eye out for any signs your horse is not happy with it. This could be loose droppings, bloated and gassy or even colicky. Not all horses are affected by new hay, but it is not worth risking a gassy colic. Similar guidelines apply to haylage as well - you should wait until that has been baled and wrapped for at least 6 weeks.
If you are completely out of old hay and are not prepared to risk feeding new hay just yet, HayCare (our hay replacer for horses) provides a good alternative to tide you over as it is 100% Timothy grass, dried and pelleted, that has been harvested at a mature stage for naturally low sugars and high fibre.
Another alternative is to allow your horse have more grass if that is suitable for them. But don't leave your horse short of forage as long spells without eating can result in an increased risk of devloping gastric ulcers and colic. Always offer a decent forage feed immediately before you work your horse, especially if he has been short of forage.