With winter on its way, ensuring your horse is provided with the correct diet in the colder, darker months whilst not breaking the bank can be a major headache for horse owners.
It can be easy to think that your horse needs a complex and varied a diet to make sure they remain happy and interested in their feed but in reality their diets do not need to be overly complicated.
A simple, high quality 'bucket' feed can be a cost-effective addition
to ensure they are getting all their nutrients.
Nowadays there are a wide variety of ‘complete’ complementary feeds available. All Allen & Page feeds are balanced with added vitamins and minerals to ensure that, when fed at recommended amounts according to body weight and workload, they will provide the horse with the essential vitamins and minerals required. This means the addition of a broad-spectrum vitamin and mineral supplement or balancer is not necessary. Our feeds also contain prebiotics or a probiotic and blend of prebiotics at sufficient amounts to provide a health benefit when fed at recommended amounts.
Having a feed plan for the changing seasons can be helpful to make sure your horse maintains weight and has a good level of energy for work all year round.
If they struggle with weight, it may be economical to move to a higher calorie feed to provide a denser calorie source at similar feeding amounts rather than feeding more of a lower calorie feed. For example, if you feed a lower calorie feed like our Fast Fibre through summer it may be helpful to take a ‘step’ up to Cool & Collected for additional calories. Cool & Collected is a medium calorie feed that is incredibly low in starch and sugar providing slow release stamina type energy. It is a quick soaking balanced feed that forms a soft, fluffy mash in 2-3 minutes.
Longer nights and poorer weather may naturally reduce the level of work they are in and it could be useful to look at what and how much you are feeding. Can you reduce feeding amounts and still provide a balanced diet or would you be better moving down to a lower energy feed? This can be particularly helpful for horses that typically have a forward going or fizzy temperament.
If you have an older horse fed on Veteran Vitality that is in a regular level of work through spring and summer but drops down to lighter work and spends more time stabled in winter, our Veteran Light may suit. Veteran Light is a low energy feed ideal for horses at rest to light work and is suitable for horses prone to laminitis. It is extremely quick soaking forming a soft mash in 60 seconds! It contains elevated levels of vitamin E and C as well as a blend of herbs that horses find incredibly tasty.
You may like to feed a warm feed during the colder months. Instead of looking to add a season-specific mash, our soaked feeds can be soaked using warm water providing an inviting warm meal - plus the extra water in a soaked feed provides a great source of hydration too! Our soaked feeds require soaking one part feed to two parts water to form a soft fluffy mash, but additional water can be added to make them softer if needed, which is especially helpful for horses with poor teeth. The soaked feeds within our range only take between 60 seconds to 10 minutes to soak making them an ideal fit in our busy lives.
With most balanced complementary feeds, the addition of other mixes, balancers
or cubes is not needed, cutting down on the number of bags in your feed room
and making your horse’s diet simple and cost effective.
If your horse bolts their feed a chaff could be added to help slow them down. The kind of chaff fed can contribute to your horse’s calorie intake. Chopped oat straw chaffs or blended chaffs are lower calorie options that are ideal for good doers. Grass or alfalfa based chaffs are higher calorie chaffs and make ideal additions to the diets of poor doers to boost calorie intake.
Alongside providing a ‘bucket’ feed the majority of your horse’s nutrients should come from good quality forage. Forage helps maintain digestive function and health, but also plays an important role in weight maintenance. Following the hot, dry summer you may find rested paddocks are not as well covered or have as much quality grazing as before. Providing alternative fibre sources in the form of hay or haylage would be ideal to allow your horse a chance to exhibit their natural grazing and browsing behaviour whilst making sure their digestive systems have something going through them. Finding a cost efficient, dependable source of hay or haylage can be difficult, however if you find you are struggling to get hold of enough forage another option could be to look at partial forage replacers. Fast Fibre is a quick soaking, high fibre feed that has been formulated to be a multi-purpose feed allowing its use as a partial forage replacer. It is ideal for horses with dental issues as well as being used as a fibre top-up for horses not eating enough fibre.
If you have a number of horses or a horse with particular nutritional needs, it may be beneficial to discuss their requirements with a nutritionist. Our friendly, multi-award-winning nutrition team can help provide a cost-efficient diet using a small number of feeds to meet your horse’s requirements.