4. ENSURE ADEQUATE WATER INTAKE
Water should always be the first consideration in the diet of any horse. An adult horse (500kg) in a cool, comfortable environment that is not working or lactating requires a minimum of 25-35 litres of fresh, clean water per day.
Impaction colic in horses during the winter months is one of our greatest concerns. This form of colic is mainly due to the horse becoming dehydrated because it consumes less water due to cooler temperatures (no sweating), cold water and a diet of hay (10% water content) instead of pasture (80% water content). When horses drink cold water during the winter, their bodies must expend additional calories to warm their tissues back up from the heat loss that is incurred, so they instinctively drink less.
Research has shown that horses drink the most water when the water temperature is between 7°C and 20°C. Optimum water consumption will keep the fibre in the horse’s digestive system hydrated, allowing it to be broken down efficiently by intestinal bacteria and to be pliable, and less likely to “ball up” and cause a blockage in the large intestine. The water requirement is higher if the horse is in training, nursing a foal, growing, or pregnant.
During winter, there are a number of ways you can encourage your horse to drink more. Salt and mineral licks, such as Barastoc’s Horse Block, can help encourage drinking. Feeding products like Speedi-Beet and Fibre-Beet, which are fed wet, can help increase water intake — Speedi-Beet expands to hold five times its weight of water on soaking.
5. TIME AND DAYLIGHT HOURS
We all dread the shorter days that winter brings — not only is there less time to ride, feeding up in the dark is a challenge!
If you can simplify your feeding program, you’ll save time and find yourself in front of the fire quicker at the end of the day. Barastoc’s range of complete feeds are a great way to ensure a horse’s nutritional needs are met without having to spend hours measuring and mixing.
Barastoc partners with Kentucky Equine Research (KER), a company at the forefront of research into equine nutrition and exercise physiology. KER produce research-backed micronutrient premixes; the nutritional core of Barastoc feeds, they combine micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) in an easy-to-mix form. The result is a range of complete feeds for horses at all stages of their lives. When fed at the recommended rates, there is no need to add anything else other than an appropriate amount of roughage; there is no simpler way to feed.
Even though winter is far from over, winter solstice (the shortest day) in the southern hemisphere is Sunday, 21 June. Hang in there, because the length of daylight hours will start to increase from then on. As winter descends, remember to rug wisely, keep an eye on our older equine friends, and watch that water intake! EQ