It’s no secret that feeding a horse in winter can fast become a difficult and costly endeavour, but there are a host of ways that you can keep a firm grip on your budget, whilst not compromising the health and wellbeing of your four-legged friends. The secret lies with fibre.
Absolutely essential for maintaining optimum handgun function, fibre has another hidden benefit in that while being digested, it releases heat energy that keeps your horse warm and comfortable. Generating slow-release energy and significantly reducing the likelihood of colic becoming an issue, fibre needs to be a major concern, but how can you get enough into your horse this winter, without risking excessive wastage?
- According to research, giving your horse a decent variety of fibre will keep them interested, happy and keen to eat. Hay, haylage and chopped fibre all work well, but to up the ‘fun’ for your horse and keep them suitably stimulated, try adding chopped fibre to a bucket along with apples and carrots, as this will make them hunt out the tastier morsels.
- A buffet of fibre will always be more interesting than a single offering, which is why some riders swear by multiple nets of fibre, with a different variety in each one. A bucket of chaff wouldn’t hurt either.
- Many people subsidise hay supplies with high-quality oat or barley straw, but this must be monitored closely. Always ensure a constant supply of fresh water and check that droppings don’t become infrequent. This is not recommended for horses with delicate digestive systems however, as constipation is a real risk.
- If hay looks as though it is going to be in short supply in your area, you will need to look into replacements that have been created to give the same nutritional benefits as hay and haylage. Certain brands will have vitamins and minerals added in, to give a complete nutritional package, but always check as you will have to add supplements yourself if not.
- Minimise wastage by presenting fibre to your horse in an appealing way. Experts recommend making more of a ceremony of feeding time, by bringing them in from the field to eat, or installing appropriate racking that will prevent trampling causing waste.