Spillers' equine nutritionist Clare Barfoot provides one H&H forum user with some helpful advice on how to feed her good doer through the winter months
Q: “I’m looking for recommendations on what to feed my Welsh sections D and B through the winter. They are both good-doers. Where they are currently kept they get a morning feed along with other horses (to save them from feeling left out!). The D puts weight on very easily so I’m unsure as to what best to feed. I will be keeping them in a separate paddock so will give haynets on daily basis through winter.”
A: Winter is a good opportunity to slim down good doers and in actual fact it may be metabolically healthier to do so especially for natives. Native ponies have evolved to put weight on in the summer and ‘live’ off their fat reserves throughout the harsher winter months when grass is less available and nutritious. Depending on the type of winter we have and the pasture you have available you may not have to supply additional forage unless the ground becomes snow covered. Although winter grass is less nutritious it is still likely to meet energy and protein needs of most natives in light work, however it can’t be relied upon to provide a balanced diet.
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I suggest for both your Welshies that you feed them a balancer such as SPILLERS® Daily Balancer, this has been designed to complement pasture and forage. It contains a full range of vitamins and minerals with no added iron which is often oversupplied in forage based diets. The quality of protein will also be less in winter grass compared to spring and summer the additional lysine from the balancer will address this shortfall. The balancer can be mixed with some low calorie chopped fibre to bulk out the bucket, extend eating time and support gastric health.
Other tips include to not to pile on the rugs as keeping warm will burn up a few calories, even if you clip your ponies they may not need heavyweight rugs! Opt for low calorie mature hay and if you can help up the exercise.”