Winter is expensive for horse owners, but feeding the right diet pays dividends. Stephanie Bateman ask experts how to save without skimping
“The aim of winter feeding is to ensure horses maintain good condition and stay healthy,” says Baileys Horse Feeds’ senior nutritionist Emma Short. “Due to poor weather conditions, horses require a good balance of nutrients and energy to support them, particularly as the grass quality declines.”
But each breed, height and type of horse has very different needs. Here, we take a look at four different categories to find out what they typically require in terms of hard feed and forage, and what the priorities are.
Poor-doer or veteran
“It is advisable to change your feeding regime gradually in the autumn to prevent weight loss in winter,” says Emma. “A horse weighing 500kg requires about 12.5kg of feed per day for weight gain. This could comprise of 3kg of a conditioning cube, ad-lib forage or 9.5kg of hay (12.5kg of haylage).”
“Forage should be offered on an ad-lib basis, ensuring that at least 1.5–2% of bodyweight is being eaten as fibre,” advises registered nutritionist Lizzie Drury of Saracen Horse Feeds.
In addition, the poor-doer will require a nutrient-dense bucket feed. “We recommend a conditioning feed balancer topped up with a low sugar/starch conditioning blend,” advises TopSpec nutrition director Nicola Tyler.