BHF Nutrition – Winter Feeding

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Soaked Horse Feed for Winter

During the winter your horse may have a different routine to normal which may include different types of exercise, varying, shorter hours of turnout and, as a result, more time in a stable or shelter. Even if your horse is doing less exercise, they use a considerable amount of energy to maintain their core body temperature, so they still need the correct diet. That is not to say that they need more feed, they just need the correct, high quality feed.

Appetite during Winter

Some horses during the winter may suffer from a loss of appetite and it can therefore be difficult to make sure that they are getting all of the nutrients that they require for the colder months. In addition, because it is often much colder to the touch, some horses do not drink enough water, so hydration is a key factor to consider.

In order to combat these two issues, you may want to consider feeding a soaked horse feed which can be soaked in warm water. The warmth of the soaked horse feed makes it more appealing to a horse who loses their appetite in the cold weather, helps the horses core temperature and the water provides additional hydration if they haven’t been drinking much. British Horse Feeds Speedi-Beet is extremely versatile and can hold up to five times its weight when soaked – not only that, it has revolutionised the feeding of beet pulp feeds, soaking in just ten minutes. 

If your horse needs a feed which is low in starch and sugar, then these two feeds are great options. Speedi-Beet contains just 5% sugar, with zero starch and Fibre-Beet has 5% sugar and 3% starch. 

Hind Gut fermentation

Feeding your horse a mash feed during the winter also has benefits for keeping your horse warmer from the inside out. Both Speedi-Beet and Fibre-Beet stimulate hind gut fermentation – this fermentation process provides heat internally to the horse. This means that you may not need to add additional oil or starch to maintain a horse’s condition. If you’re feeding a warm mash (i.e. you soak it in warm water too), the horse is required to use less energy to keep themselves warm. 

Forage Supplies

In winter, horses tend to spend less time grazing and in fact, less time eating due to shorter daylight hours. Not only that, but the forage available to them tends to be lower quality. Fibre-Beet, from British Horse Feeds, is a great conditioning soaked fibre feed that can be used to enhance, and in some cases replace forage supplies temporarily if they are not available. This alternative can also be beneficial to horses who need grass intake restricting due to conditions such as laminitis.

For example, 1kg of soaked Speedi-Beet could replace 0.5kg of hay, or extend 5kg of hay to provide a higher quality feed. Fibre-Beet can be fed at up to 1kg/100kg body weight of horse. This means that for a 500kg horse you can feed up to 5kg of Fibre-Beet (dry weight) each day. As a short-term solution if you have no forage you can actually substitute all your forage with Fibre-Beet, but it is best to consult us or your vet first.

As horse owners, we are becoming more aware of the importance of fibre in a horse’s diet, providing the main source of energy with both physical and psychological benefits. Introducing Fibre-Beet or Speedi-Beet into the diet means your horse can rely less on traditional hard feeds, as well as having a positive prebiotic effect. A cost-effective way of feeding through winter.

Maintaining good condition & general health

During the colder, winter months, some horses also struggle to maintain their condition which can come from poor quality forage and struggling to maintain their core temperature.

Micronised Cooked Linseed has many benefits as a conditioning feed, being rich in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. It is also an excellent source of oil, with up to 40% content, giving the product a Digestible Energy of 22 Mj/kg. It consists of mainly long chain fatty acids which are very readily absorbed, and either go to storage (as does glucose if in excess) or enters the TCA cycle. The energy flow from oil is greater than starches and sugars and so less needs to be fed.

Not only is Cooked Linseed great for maintaining condition, it also has been shown to help the inflammatory cycle, immune function and allergy response in horses as well as having great antioxidative properties. The profile of proteins within Cooked Linseed complements that of forage protein and can therefore support muscle development and regeneration as well as providing bioactive peptides which support the function of the vascular system and blood pressure regulation

If you would like further feeding advice, please contact our friendly and knowledgeable team on 01765 680300.