Winter Feeding Programs
Dietary requirements for horses during the change of season, from hot Western Australian summers into milder winter weather, often goes unnoticed. Such seasonal changes can sometimes catch horse owners by surprise, with a sudden drop in body condition or slightly dull coat. While horses during summer are often kept on large amounts of hand fed hay due to the lack of pasture, the appearance of the first ‘green feed’ and drop in temperature requires some different dietary consideration.
As winter approaches, and annual pasture begins in its early stages, it is important to remember that the young growth may have lower nutritional value, and less plant quantity available until it is established. Therefore, the onset of pasture may not be contributing as much to the diet as perceived. Often, with the onset of rainy periods and colder, darker days the pasture can have a high moisture content, and therefore provides lower fibre/nutritional contribution in the diet. During this time it is important to continue to provide supplementary hay to top up daily roughage intake. Digestion of long stem fibre is an important heat producing mechanism for the horse. On the other hand, depend on the season, a mix of rain and sunshine can give existing, tired, perennial reticulated summer pastures a boost, so it important to watch what is occurring with your individual pasture situation.
Energy balance is also key during this change of season, as colder weather requires higher energy input for the horse to thermoregulate its body temperature effectively. If this increased energy demand is not being met, a drop in body condition can occur. Adding a little more of your concentrate, or the addition of a fibre based pellet, such as beet pulp or EasyWay Hay and Chaff pellets, are great ways to include extra fibre based energy in the diet during the onset of colder months. Providing a nutritionally balanced diet, with the help a nutrition advisor, will help horses to maintain regular body condition for optimum health and performance. Contact us to fine tune your winter feeding plan.