Ad­just­ing diet for au­tumn Ben­e­fits of feed­ing lin­seed Food in­tol­er­ance

Your Horse (UK) - - Contents -

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

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