Feeding for Cold Weather: Winter Nutrition for Horses
With winter on its way, many horse owners are wondering how to adapt their feeding program to keep their horses warm this winter. It is important to keep in mind that it is not only the thermometer temperature that should determine the amount of feed necessary to keep the horse warm. The wind velocity and the thermometer reading will determine how cold the horse actually feels.
To calculate the real temperature in winter:
- Thermometer temperature minus one degree for each mile per hour of wind velocity.
- For each degree it is calculated to be below 32° F, it is necessary to add 1% more feed. For example, if it is 40°F and the wind is blowing at 20 miles per hour, the horse feels as though it is 20°F. So, this horse needs 12% more feed.
Other factors which will increase the energy demands: thin hair coat, precipitation, and poor body condition.
Highly digestible fiber sources do the best job at producing internal body heat, although many old timers still believe in corn and oats. Oats actually produce more heat than corn because of the higher fiber content. It is the fermentation of fiber in the hind gut that best produces body heat. So for cold days and nights feed:
- Extra hay.
- Horse Kwik Complete Pellets containing readily digestible alfalfa meal .
- Alfalfa cubes.
- Life Design Senior containing alfalfa meal and rice bran.
REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION FROM NUTRENA FEEDS EQUINE NUTRITION UPDATE, VOL. 3 ISSUE 1 1999.