Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Winter Feed Changes: Use Caution when Adjusting Rations - Full Article

by: Oklahoma State University
December 22 2011, Article # 19329

Horses need more feed to replace energy loss brought about by harsher weather conditions as the temperature turns colder, and that means equine owners need to take steps to ensure colic does not become a problem.

Equine owners must practice sound management in altering their animals' rations if problems with colic or founder are to be avoided, said Dave Freeman, PhD, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension equine specialist.

"Concentrate composition and amounts should be increased gradually over a period of several days, especially if the horses are already consuming large quantities of grain," Freeman said.

Many concentrates will have significant levels of soluble carbohydrates, which are efficient providers of energy.

"However, eating too much of these compounds in one meal is a significant contributor to the frequency of colic and founder in horses," he said.

One general guideline is to limit grain feedings to maximum single meal intakes of around 5 pounds per 1,000 pounds of body weight.

"Of course, some concentrates are less energy dense than others, so following recommended intake levels on feed bags is a good practice," Freeman said.

Gradually increase portions of grain mixes over several days when conditions require horses to need significant increases in energy intake is an added precaution against colic...

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