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Robinsons - The uks No equestrian Provider Special Interview

Winter Feeding Advice

TopSpec - Winter Feeding Advice

During winter, when grazing is in limited supply, frozen or covered by snow, it is important to provide alternative sources of fibre (e.g. hay, haylage or chop) to aid digestion and keep the hindgut working efficiently.

Fibre is continually fermented by the microflora in the hindgut. This process of fermentation produces warmth. So before reaching for extra hard feed in the cold weather, always ensure your horse has access to ample forage.

TopSpec - Winter Feeding AdviceHorses with poor teeth may struggle to chew long fibre effectively. In this case the hindgut microflora are deprived of essential fibre which can lead to digestive disturbances, with weight loss and loose droppings seen as a result. A soft, short-chopped grass can be used as a hay replacer for a period of time. However, offering fibre in a pre-ground form e.g. with nutritious but high-fibre cubes, rapidly becomes essential.

Although forage is the foundation of a horse's diet during the winter, it is important to balance this diet and ensure an optimum supply of the essential amino acids, vitamins, trace-elements and minerals that will be lacking in a forage-only diet. A top specification feed balancer is the perfect solution. 

For those that need to gain weight, a top specification, conditioning feed balancer is ideal. The high quality protein included will promote muscle development and topline when combined with working in a correct outline. The amount of nutrients that can be utilised from hay/haylage will be increased when using one of these balancers, reducing or eliminating the requirement for additional hard feed.

When further condition is needed, appropriate blends and/or straights can be added.

Conversely, for good-doers, winter can be a very useful time to drop some condition before spring. Poor-nutritional-quality hay should be fed, e.g. late-cut meadow hay, and soaked if necessary. A non-conditioning, top specification feed balancer can be used to balance the diet. This will supply optimum levels of micronutrients without promoting weight gain when fed as part of a calorie controlled diet.

Article supplied by nutritionists from the TopSpec Multiple Award-Winning-Helpline. They can be contacted, free of charge, on 01845-565030.

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