Adjusting diet for autumn Benefits of feeding linseed Food intolerance
QAutumn is approaching, so what adjustments should I make to my horse’s diet once turnout hours are limited? Robert Duff, Warwick
ALimited turnout means an increase in time spent in the stable, so your horse’s intake of grass will need to be replaced with preserved forages, such as hay and haylage. Ideally this should be provided on an ad-lib basis to ensure digestive health is maintained and that correct weight maintenance is achieved.
Tweaking his diet
If your horse is being fed the recommended intake of a commercially available feed, adjustments to his diet shouldn’t be needed as it will be meeting all of his vitamin and mineral requirements. If he’s a poor doer in the winter but maintains a good weight in summer, he may need to be transitioned onto a higher-calorie feed to ensure body condition and weight is maintained. In particular, providing ad-lib forage will give him additional calories. Many horses will be stabled for long periods of time during the colder months and adding high oil feeds or supplements to the diet can be a good way of increasing the calories provided without affecting temperament. Traditional conditioning feeds tend to be based on cereals to provide calories, but some horses can react adversely to these. Oil is a slow-release source of energy (calories) and is better suited to horses that can be excitable.
Bust his boredom
With more time spent stabled, there’s the potential for boredom to set in, which can increase the risk of undesirable behaviour. Giving your horse a treat ball containing high-fibre cubes, providing buckets of grass chop, or even placing a mixture of hay and haylage around his stable so he can forage, will all help keep him occupied and interested. Other boredom breakers can include ‘veggie kebabs’ and sprinkling high-fibre cubes or grass nuts through his hay for him to seek out.
Turnout hours tend to decrease when the clocks go back
Feeding STEPHANIE GEORGE BSC (HONS) nutrition advisor at Saracen Horse Feeds