For some of us, winter has already arrived. For others, it’s just beginning in earnest. For all of us, the horse is facing some challenges.
During the winter months, it is important to remember winter nutrition for horses. Whether you have to adjust your horse’s diet or add additional vitamins and supplements, your horse has different needs in the winter. Horses actually tolerate and enjoy the cold a lot more than most of us do. Their neutral temperature, with no energy expended to either keep warm or cool off, is in the 40s Fahrenheit – the same as your refrigerator. However, a number of health conditions made worse by the winter environment may dictate the need for supplementation not required in summer months. A few nutritional tweaks can pay off in weight maintenance, reduced colic risk, better hydration and hoof health.
In winter, some horses tend to have difficulty holding a good body weight. Healthy fats can help hold weight and condition, as well as help maintain a glossy coat and strong solid hooves. In winter, they are perfect for providing cool calories in a palatable energy source.
Your horse needs a vitamin and mineral supplement matched to your hay. This isn’t something you want to skimp on just because the horse is not working as much. These are the nuts and bolts that keep the immune system healthy and literally every cell functioning.
Electrolytes aren’t just for sweating horses. They are for every day, all year. There are baseline requirements present all year for Sodium, Potassium and Chloride. Failure to meet them easily leads to inadequate water consumption and a chronic tissue dehydration which can result in the most common type of cold weather colic – impaction. Electrolytes keep the horse drinking well and support normal intestinal function.
If your horse spends considerable time in the barn, or faces long periods of confinement due to weather, you have some special considerations. Being stall bound is difficult for some horses leading to nervousness and undesirable behaviors like weaving, stall walking and wood chewing. This is a perfect time for herbal and nutritional calming alternatives.
A barn that is closed up tightly to keep out the cold and wind can be warm and cozy but very hard on the respiratory tract. Ammonia from bacterial break down as well as mold spores and small particles from hay and straw combine to irritate the tissues and set the stage for chronic lung conditions. Stale air in close quarters also concentrates viruses, which have a much easier time setting up house in irritated lungs. Targeted vitamins, antioxidants and nutrients like Spirulina, Jiaogolan, Gynostemma that support balanced immune responses will help.
Frozen, uneven ground or wet, muddy conditions may mean your horse’s feet need more attention. The hoof wall contains a specialized form of the same protein found in skin, which is keratin. Key nutrients for the hoof are also the same as those for skin. These include the B Vitamin Biotin and Pyridoxine and the essential amino acids L-Lysine and L-Methionine. Fat plays a pivotal role in the protective barriers in skin and hoof and especially Copper and Zinc, are key to structural integrity and resistance to infections.
Uckele Health & Nutrition, maker of CocoSoya®, formulates and manufactures leading supplements for winter.
CocoSoya – This unique fatty acid formula is an ideal way to sidestep weight loss and poor conditioning during a long winter. Provides cool calories to promote a shiny coat and excellent body condition.
Equi-Base Grass – With high concentrations of vitamins, time-released minerals, major minerals and probiotics that may be imbalanced or missing when not on pasture.
Pro-Lyte Pellets – Helps replenish major electrolytes and trace minerals daily in a highly concentrated, low-sugar palatable pellet.
Seroquine – If your horse is tired of close quarters, this herb-free formula is designed to support healthy nervous system function to keep your horse calm and relaxed while supporting focus.
Lung EQ – With Jiaogulan to support healthy immune function and open airways. Spirulina supports balanced antibody production and stabilization of histamine releasing cells. Provides antioxidant support for tissues challenged by irritants and allergens.
Omega Hoof – Potent formula gives weak, shelly hoof walls a boost of essential vitamins and minerals. Palatable pellet includes Biotin to support the health and growth of keratin and other connective tissue, Lysine and Methionine, key amino acids essential for hoof growth, and Omega Fatty Acids to maintain pliability and hoof moisture level.