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.
The UK has an aging population of horses, with over one third of the UK horse population considered veteran. The average age of a horse in the UK is 14 years. For comparison, the average age was 10 years old in 2006 and veterans accounted for less than a quarter (only 23%) of the UK horse population.
Older horses can be a concern, particularly over the winter months when they no longer seem to do as well. The efficiency of the digestive tract often reduces with a major issue being worn, loose or missing teeth.
Even if your older horse still has all of their teeth, after years of chewing and grinding, the roots become progressively more shallow until they are insufficient to keep the tooth stable inside the jaw. A wobbly tooth may be less efficient to chew on, and may become uncomfortable. Horses with poor dentition or that find chewing uncomfortable, can often lose condition as they find eating hay or haylage difficult. They may also be more prone to episodes of colic if there is insufficient fibre intake.
It is important to provide forage in an easy to eat form to keep our older horses happy and healthy over winter. A soaked pelleted forage is a great option and Simple System HayCare is the ideal hay replacer.
HayCare is made from 100% Timothy grass that has been harvested at a mature stage, providing nutrition levels likened to low sugar, high fibre hay. This naturally low calorie, low starch hay replacer is suitable for all horses, including those with metabolic issues.
It can be difficult to appreciate just how much soaked hay replacer your elderley horse may need. A hay replacer, such as HayCare, needs to be fed in the same fry weight quantity as hay. To replace 5kg of hay you will need to feed 5kg of dry HayCare before it is soaked for example. When soaked this looks like rather alot, but there is no limit to meal size when feeding forages. It is safe to feed multiple big buckets of HayCare - leave them dotted around the stable or field, allowing your horse to graze on them as they would hay.
Reference: The BETA National Equestrian Survey 2023
If you'd like to discuss feeding your veteran horse our Feed Line will be happy to help. For a free Feed Plan speak to a member of our team on 01728 604 008 or complete our online form.