Wintertime is usually associated with plenty of mud, looking for your horse in the dark after work and wondering where did that nice shiny coat of hair go? If your horse looks a little dull in the wintertime it can be really helpful to add a little oil to their diet. Pasture naturally contains around 8% oil; this oil is naturally higher in omega-3 than omega-6 fatty acids. When pasture is limited and the nutritional value drops, a horse on dried forages and grains will often end up with a diet higher in omega-6 fatty acids.
Correcting this balance is easily done when using an oil specifically blended to offer a high omega-3 intake such as Foran Equine Kentucky Karron Oil. The advantage of this type of oil is that low intake is required. Typically just 45mls per day can be added, which won’t break the bank and is easily digested by the horse.
As well as a drop in oils, it is common for the diet to run a little short on the vitamins and minerals normally found in spring and summer pasture. Using balancers is a simple way to keep up intake and help keep the body fighting fit over the winter months. Balancers contain high amounts of copper and this will also help put a good shine on a coat again. Dried forages are very low in copper, normally between 4 and 8 mg/kg, whereas a balancer will be around 160 mg/kg. Intakes for balancers are normally 100mg / 100kg of bodyweight.
Keeping a spring in your horses step can be aided by feeding additional B vitamins. When at pasture the horse can produce these vitamins quite easily. Winter feeding can leave them a little short if the hard feed is not well supplemented or you are using chaffs, beet pulp, alfalfa or straights such as oats as the base. Balancers like GROCARE Balancer will contain a high level of B vitamins or they can be supplemented specifically using products such as Foran Equine’s Shy Feeder.
Without pasture which is high in moisture the diet in winter can seem a little dry and not very ‘juicy’. Popping in some beet pulp or adding an apple or two is often a welcome treat!
If you would like to find out more on this topic, drop our nutritionists your questions.