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Reducing the risk of impaction colic in cold weather

01 December 2023

When the weather turns cold, horses are less inclined to drink and coupled with sudden changes in management, such as more time spent stabled or eating more hay, this can increase the risk of impaction colic. Ensure that exercise remains part of your daily routine for stabled horses. Walking out in hand helps to keep the gut moving, reducing the risk of impaction and generating warmth in the process. 
Encouraging drinking is important to help reduce the risk of an impaction occurring. Here are few tips to help keep your horses hydrated...
  • Ensure water is readily available. An obvious one perhaps but water freezes quickly and needs checking regularly. Have your ice breaking kit to hand: a hammer to break the ice and a colander to scoop the pieces out are ideal as leaving the ice in there will only help the water freeze over again faster.
  • Offer feeds as a warm mash. We always recommend soaking our Simple System feeds to increase hydration and reduce the risk of choke. Using warm water instead of cold not only speeds up soaking times, it will also be much appreciated by your horse. PuraBeet is a great choice for adding hydration as it soaks up to 5 times it's volume in water, double that of our other pellets.
  • Provide a bucket of warm (not hot) water. Horses typically do not enjoy drinking very cold water, so take the chill off by adding a kettle of hot water to their buckets.
  • Consider offering flavoured water. A handful of Simple Balance +, MetaSlim or TopGain added to a bucket of water can work a treat.
  • Position stable water buckets against an internal wall rather than an outside one. They are less likely to freeze.
  • Try an alternative to hay. If your horse is spending more time stabled, the chances are they're eating more hay. Eating more dry forage means your horse needs more to drink. Offer a soaked hay replacer alongside their hay. HayCare is an ideal, and very palatable, alternative.
If you require feeding advice our nutrition experts will be very happy to help on 01728 604 008. If you are concerned that your horse is showing signs of colic, please contact your vet in the first instance.

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