Winter Feeding

Many horse owners notice weight loss in their animals during the winter months.  No matter where you live in Canada, our climate does tend to take a toll on any creature living outside (or at least spending a good part of the day out).  It is important to review your feeding regime in the fall as winter approaches, and again in the spring before the pasture grasses begin their rapid growth.  If you continue to ride and train in the winter, or if you have growing or breeding horses it is important to make sure that they continue to get enough calories for their daily needs.  I always encourage owners to take a moment to weigh and record their horse’s daily intake and get a sense for the amount and calorie content that they are feeding.  Remember that during the cold and rainy months, body temperature regulation burns calories.  So, even if you don’t increase your horse’s daily physical activity, he might still need additional good quality calories to maintain weight.  The best way to get additional calories is to increase the daily amount of good quality hay.  You can also add a fat source to your horse’s diet, such as flax (a great source of Omega-3 fatty acid), or rice bran (also a good source of Omega fatty acids, along with gamma oryzanol which helps with muscle building).  If purchasing ground flax or rice bran, just make sure it is stabilized both to preserve nutrition content and so that it doesn’t go rancid due to the high fat content of these products!  Better yet, buy whole flax and grind it yourself as needed.

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