HorseHage & Mollichaff Helpline – 01803 527274

Feeding For the Changing Seasons

Feeding for Changing Seasons

As the season starts to change from summer to autumn, your thoughts will be turning to thinking about when to bring your horse or pony in from summer turn-out, along with which forage and fibre feeds to choose for the winter ahead.

Every horse owner should take into consideration their horse or pony’s diet with the changing of the seasons. From summer to autumn, there is still a risk of laminitis so owners of laminitics should be aware of this.

From autumn to winter, as the temperature drops, your horse or pony will need to consume more calories to maintain its body temperature. These extra calories should, ideally, come from forage as the horse’s system has to work harder and longer to digest fibre, thus creating more warmth. Also the nutritional value of grass will be reduced too and so extra forage or concentrates will need to be provided to make up for this.  From winter to spring, calories may need to be reduced again to prevent too much weight gain once horses are out grazing on the fresh pasture and the weather warms up, and at this time there is once again the heightened risk of laminitis.

MolliChaff Complete Feeds

The most important dietary aspect to consider  for your horse or pony is plenty of good quality, dust-free forage, such as HorseHage. 70 – 100% of a horse’s diet should be provided by forage. Choose a high quality, branded forage that is dust-free, consistent  and has BETA NOPS FEMAS certification to ensure that it has been manufactured to the highest standards. Forage should never be dusty or have any signs of mould on it. It should have a sweet, pleasant smell and be a nice, green colour.

MolliChaff Condition

Fibre in the horse’s diet is extremely important. Horses have evolved to utilise a high fibre diet, using bacterial fermentation in a highly developed large intestine. Low levels of fibre, or poor quality fibre in the diet put horses at serious risk of problems such as colic and gastric ulcers.  Leaving horses for long periods of time with nothing to eat can also lead to serious digestive and metabolic disturbances.

HoofKindLaminitis is still a risk at this time of year. When grass grows under normal conditions, it contains high levels of soluble sugars and non-structural carbohydrates (NSCs). When there is a ground frost and grass is frozen, the grass accumulates more sugars to try and enable it to carry on growing in adverse conditions. This extra sugar content can be one of several different triggers for laminitis. If a horse or pony is prone to laminitis, it should be fed a low sugar, low starch and high fibre diet. It is important not to starve laminitics as this can cause further problems such as hyperlipaemia which can be fatal. Choose forage that has a lower sugar content than hay and, ideally, a complete feed suitable for horses and ponies prone to laminitis that contains a broad spectrum vitamin and mineral supplement, ie. Mollichaff HoofKind.

If your horse or pony is a poor doer, struggling to maintain condition during the winter, prevention is better than a cure, so try and maintain his summer weight before it starts to drop off. Excellent forage is most important and a high fibre-based, complete conditioning feed with added oil, such as Mollichaff Condition.