Management considerations as we move from autumn to winter
- Decreasing grass quality leads to decreasing nutritional levels
- Grass will never fully balance a diet, especially in autumn/winter
- Make sure your horse gets all the vital nutrients, vitamins and minerals they need by feeding a balancer year-round, especially in autumn/winter whether they are a good OR poor doer, stabled or turned out
- This is a time of readjustment for your horse's digestive system - providing a digestive supplement such as probiotics (included in all Blue Chip balancers) can help settle any gastric upset caused by changes in grass quality during this time
- Over the autumn/winter months your pony/horse may have limited access to turnout, spending an increased amount of time stabled, be aware of potential stiffness and/or behavioural changes
- If you are unable to turnout your pony/horse as much as they need, try to get them out of their stable a couple of times a day for a leg stretch to prevent stiffening up
As autumn begins the nutritional profile of grazing can become deficient in key vitamins and minerals. Ponies and horses tend to spend more time stabled, as a consequence it is an important time to balance their forage ration (grass, hay, haylage) to ensure digestive health is maintained.
Forage provision allows your horse to maintain a healthy gut. Fermentation of forage in the hind gut serves an important role in keeping your horse warm in the colder months. Hay and autumn/winter grazing is typically low in essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients, so ensure the rest of your ponies/horse’s diet is balanced to compensate for this.
Feeding a balancer in autumn/winter ensures your pony/horse continues to receive the vitamins, minerals and nutrients they need to maintain long term good health. Consider using a feed balancer which includes a targeted supplement if your horse has any particular health issues. For example, feed Joint Care or Senior balancer if your pony/horse suffers with stiff joints, feed Calming balancer if your horse is likely to become on edge from being stabled more. Feed Ulsa-Cool balancer if your horse suffers digestive stress from being stabled for longer hours. We are always happy to help you choose the best option for your horse.
Evaluate body condition honestly and early enough to plan ahead
For good doers use the autumn/winter to kick start your weight loss plan in preparation for a healthy spring. Feed a forage based diet, supported by a low sugar and starch content balancer, such as Lami Light or Low Calorie. Low Calorie can be particularly useful for those who need to lose weight. Please contact our friendly nutrition team if you have any questions.
For poor doers, calorie content, good quality protein and probiotics are vital to include in their diet. Look for a balancer with good levels of protein content, such as Blue Chip Pro, coupled with a fibre product such as alfalfa or a conditioning mash for slow release calorie inclusion. Think ahead in advance to make sure they are well rugged to avoid unnecessary calorie usage for warmth, provide ad-lib forage at all times if possible.
- Autumn can see seasonal spikes in Laminitis
- The warm days and cool nights are ideal conditions for an influx of grass to grow
- Once your pony/horse has had Laminitis, the chance of recurring episodes is higher and therefore in this instance, prevention is much better than cure
- Avoid large changes in diet, including the movement from summer grazing to autumn/winter fields, do this gradually
- Avoid feeds which are high in starch and sugar, ideally find a low calorie balancer or balancer formulated for those prone to Laminitis, and is molasses free such as Blue Chip Lami Light or Low Calorie balancers
- Keep an eye on your horse's weight, if they are overweight increase exercise where possible, to include groundwork, lunging, hacking, pole work, hill work, and/or schooling, to a level your pony/horse can manage
The signs to look for
- Reluctance to move
- Signs of pain
- Constantly shifting weight and particularly resting on their heels
- A strong digital pulse
- Call your vet as soon as possible if you see these symptoms in your pony/horse
- If safe to do so, remove your pony/horse from grass and provide a well bedded stable with soaked hay
Our feed advisors are here to help!
Call: 0114 266 6200