Frost and the increased risk of laminitis
Many of us have seen hard frosts this morning and snow may even be on the cards for some parts of the country later this week. This has the potential to increase the risk of laminitis.
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. Ensure any new hay or haylage is introduced slowly. If you are totally out of old hay and are not prepared to risk feeding new hay just yet, HayCare provides a good for them. But don't leave your horse short of forage as long spells without eating can result in ulcers and colic.
In winter it can be hard to strike a balance between horse ownership and day-to-day life; less daylight means many horses spend an increasing amount of time indoors and may also have less interaction with their owners who are dashing back home to thaw out