Winter Horse Feeding Tips

Horses eating together in the snow

Feeding Tips to Keep Your Horse Healthy in the Winter

Your horse's ability to stay warm and healthy during the winter depends on the type of feed and forage available. Now that the temperature has dropped, it's time to make a few dietary changes in your barn. These tips will help you keep your horse comfortable this winter.

Increase the Amount of Forage You Provide

When it's cold outside, your horse expends more energy to stay warm. If you don't change the way you feed your horse, weight loss and cold stress can occur. Rutgers Equine Science Center recommends providing 1.5 to 3% of your horse's body weight in forage daily during the winter. Gradually increase the amount of feed you provide to allow time for your horse to adjust to the change in feeding practices.

Evaluate Your Horse's Condition

Age, hair length, the thickness of the fat layer, and previous exposure to cold weather all affect your horse's ability to handle cold temperatures. A horse that's recently traveled to Connecticut after spending its life in Florida will find it harder to adjust to cold and windy weather than an equine that's used to seasonal changes.

It's important to consider your horse's lower critical temperature (LCT) when making feeding changes. LCT refers to the outdoor temperature at which your horse must consume more feed to maintain its usual body temperature. A healthy adult horse with a winter coat has an LTC of about 18 degrees Fahrenheit, while a pregnant or young horse may have an LTC of 40F, according to the Equine Extension at Utah State University. If your horse is used to cold winters, it may not need to eat more until the temperature drops to 5F. Shivering can be a sign that your horse needs more calories, particularly if it lasts more than a few hours.

Choose Quality Forage

Body heat increases as your horse digests feed. Make the most of the digestive process by offering high-quality, long-stemmed hay rather than grain-based feeds. Hay takes longer to digest than grain and helps keep your horse warmer longer. Chopped hay may be a good choice for older horses that have trouble chewing, according to Equus. If your horse's weight starts to drop, you may need to supplement the forage with feed pellets, like those made of beet pulp.

Be sure to keep outdoor feeders full if your horse spends part of the day in the pasture. Place feeders under shelters or in sheds to prevent the forage from the elements.

Consider Adding Supplements to Your Horse's Diet

Winter forage may not contain the same amount of vitamins and nutrients as summer forage. Fortunately, vitamin and mineral supplements can provide horses with the extra nutrients they need to stay healthy. Ask your equine veterinarian if a multi-vitamin or a mineral supplement is a good idea for your horse during the winter.

Keep the Water Flowing

Water intake is just as important in the winter as it is in the summer. Make sure that water remains unfrozen and is available at all times. Your horse may drink more water if you make sure the water temperature is lukewarm on particularly cold days.

Do you have some concerns about your horse's winter diet or health? Get in touch with us and we'll help you ensure that your horse is prepared for the cold weather.

Sources:

Equine Extension at Utah State University: Caring for Horses in Cold Weather, 1/18

Rutgers Equine Science Center: Winter Feeding for Horses, 2/11

Equus: 5 Winter Feeding Tips, 10/22/21

Stable Management: Winter Nutrition for Working Horses, 1/29/19

Location

Find us on the map

Office Hours

Our Regular Schedule

Monday:

9:00 AM-6:00 PM

Tuesday:

9:00 AM-8:00 PM

Wednesday:

9:00 AM-4:00 PM

Thursday:

9:00 AM-6:00 PM

Friday:

9:00 AM-5:00 PM

Saturday:

9:00 AM-3:00 PM

Sunday:

Closed

  • "I have my puppy for only 4 days and the doctor provided all the answers to my million questions. She was patient and kind and very loving to my pup. She diagnosed ear mites and cleaned his ears throughly. She explained everything throughly and even comforted me when I got upset about him being a little sick. I would highly recommend and will be taking Finn her from here on out. Thank you thank you thank you!!"
    by Jeanna P. on 04/06/2022
  • ""My husband and I absolutely love Three Village Veterinary Hospital! Our puppies adore Dr. Sophia, and she takes the best care of them whenever we bring them in. When our newest puppy broke her leg and had to have surgery, Dr. Sophia called us right away to check in and see how she was doing, which meant the world to us! All of the vet techs and front desk staff are also amazing! I couldn't imagine bringing our babies anywhere else.""
    Jessica K.
  • "'They have taken great care of my puppy...even when he does scary things like eating light bulbs ( metal and all). As a first time dog owner I have lots of questions and each of the vets have taken their time to answer all of my questions and concerns without ever making me feel stupid for asking. The support staff is also very knowledgeable, helpful and truly gets excited to see each of the animals that comes through the door.'"
    Joanne W
  • ""I could not be happier with my visit to Three Village Veterinary Hospital! I just recently moved to New York and have been extremely nervous in choosing a new veterinarian for my dog (he’s super stubborn and can be a real handful). I called Three Village Veterinary Hospital and right off the bat Dr. Sophia Was fantastic! She really took the time to dive into Huxley’s history with me, including his anxiousness about vet visits. Hearing Dr. Sophia ask all the right questions reassured me that Huxley was in good hands.

    Huxley came out of his appointment with a bill of clean health and a ton of new friends in the office staff, I couldn’t believe how happy he was! I am so glad that I was recommended to Three Village Veterinary Hospital and feel incredibly relieved to have found a fantastic new team that I can trust Huxley with. I HIGHLY recommend!""
    Michelle G
  • ""I would never go to another place but this one, even if I had to travel. best professional understanding point on doctors there. they opened their doors and stayed open just for me after hours. They had so much empathy & helped me make the right decision in a short time. I recieved a hand written card from them a couple of days after my visit, which made me cry. I trust them and respect all of them 100% my entire will be taken our pets theres. I cant thank them enough""
  • "We've been with TVVH for over 25 years. Could not imagine going elsewhere. In addition to their professional expertise is the consistent human element; their very real kindness and caring. Office staff, technicians and doctors all are exceptional."
    Linda B
  • "The staff and doctors are amazing. The older my Shih Tzu gets the more difficult and snappy he has become. Your doctors and staff are kind, gentle, and professional. You don't make me feel like I have a bad dog or I raised him wrong. I feel you care not just for me dog but for me (who can be a bit neurotic about my dog). Your tech staff and doctors...even the front desk staff are the best!!"
    Rebecca D
  • "I not only use Three Village Veterinary for my personal animals, but frequently recommend them to my grooming customers as well. I trust them explicitly and value their professionalism, but above all their compassion... all the doctors there are great & the fact that they put up with my MANY emergencies (& my neurosis) makes them my fav. Love you guys <3"
    Melissa V