Keeping warm in winter
Horses grow a very effective winter coat which can be adjusted according to the temperature – little muscles can puff the coat up or smooth it down for more or less insulation. Horses also have an internal boiler to help keep them warm and this is the fermentation vat of the caecum and the large colon. Here, a vast army of microbes breaks down fibre from forage, producing fuel for the horse, B group vitamins, heat and a certain amount of gas.
So-called “heating” feeds which are the starchy grains in many horse feeds such as nuts, cereals and mixes, may cause “hot” behaviour but do little to keep horses warm. The heat from these feeds is only generated when they are used for energy in the muscles. Exercise will release the heat, but then the calories from that food are all used up as well. Fermentation of fibre in the hind gut releases food and heat – which is why horses should be fed forage, the best source of fibre!
In winter, the main source of forage is hay. If your horse cannot manage to eat enough hay, due to being old or having poor dentition, replace the hay weight for weight with HayCare which is Timothy grass, harvested at the hay stage and pelleted. Add water to make an easy to eat hay replacer that is just like hay and totally free from all cereals, their by-products, pulses such as soya, molasses, binders and preservatives. And it’s naturally very low in sugar and starch. Horses that drop weight in winter will do best when their additional requirements are met with good quality forage, not starchy or sugary feed.
For additional requirements, it makes sense to use forage feeds and there is wide range available in different forms, varying nutritional values and different forages, all from Simple System Horse Feeds.
Contact our Feed Line for advice on what to feed your horse:
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