Feeding your horse in the winter is a difficult task. The temperatures begin to plummet in the winter, pasture grass stops growing and your rescue will depend on you to supply adequate nutrition. When temperatures drop below the “critical temperature” of 45 degrees Fahrenheit, your horse will require more energy to sustain its internal body heat. For every 1 degree below critical, your horse will need a relative 1 percent increase in consumable energy. Proper feeding in the winter months will revolve around three essential factors: water, fiber, and fundamental nutrients.
Tips For The Winter:
A 1,000-pound adult horse in a relaxed environment will drink at least 8-12 gallons of clean water per day. Water intake will closely mirror the volume of feed consumed. Most rescue horses need roughly 48 fluid ounces (1.5 quarts) of water per pound of feed. Since horses can consume up to 3 percent of their body weight in a 24-hour period, your rescue should be downing at least 8 gallons of water on any given winter day. Water intake will increase if the adult horse is lactating, working, or in training; foals and growing horses will have a higher requirement as well.
The problem with water intake in winter is all about access. Horses won’t eat snow or drink frozen water unless they’re desperate. Decreased water intake may lead to digestive issues (notably, colic) and weight loss. Therefore, you want to provide water that’s considerably warmer than the air outside.
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