Winter Feed for Outdoor Horse

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by Stella1964, Oct 2, 2008.

  1. Stella1964

    Stella1964 Chillin' With My Peeps

    145
    0
    129
    Mar 30, 2008
    Ontario Canada
    This is the first winter for my horse (with me anyway) but he has always been an outdoor horse. He's going to be 6 in January and we have some pretty cold winters here. Can anyone give me advice on what grain or roughage I should be giving him now to keep his calories up and keep him warm outside? He's a pleasure horse that gets exercised lightly about 3x a week, appears to be an easy keeper, and is on hay and limited pasture outside. I estimate he's about 1200 lbs, and very fit.

    Tx
    Stella
     
  2. helmstead

    helmstead Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 12, 2007
    Alfordsville, IN
    Hay, hay, hay. Good quality grass hay. You really shouldn't have to change his diet other than increasing the hay through the winter. Digestion of roughage warms them from the inside out - and a warm horse isn't shivering which causes weight loss. Also making sure ample salt is available to keep water intake up is a good measure.
     
  3. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    12,521
    108
    341
    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    <waving hi from over in Uxbridge> [​IMG]

    Hay. Lots of decent hay. Also SHELTER (somewhere to get out of the wind) and quite possibly a turnout sheet to keep him dry.

    My three live outside 24/7 except that I will bring them in for like 8-12 hrs at a time, usually nights, about 3-4 days per year when we are having a really bad blizzard or a cold rain from the south (from which direction they have little shelter outdoors). They include two 20-year olds, one of whom is a TB who was always a really hard keeper when he was boarded and stalled-with-turnout, and another TB who is now (counts on fingers) 8.

    They have a large southfacing shed, plus the barn blocks additional wind around the shed, and part of the field is semi-sheilded from strong winds by the neighbor's trees and a small hill; other than that, their field is open and flat. The TBs wear waterproof-breathable turnout sheets all winter, changed for insulated blankets for the coldest coupla weeks of the year. The fat white Lipizzaner-cross goes nekkid except that I pop a waterproof turnout sheet on him temporarily if it's a long hard cold rain or long hard wet snow.

    I put hay out for them 2-5 times per day (usually 3x) so I can meter out their food intake, otherwise I would use WAY too much hay all of which would go into the LippX who would eventually would explode [​IMG] If I just had the 2 TBs I would consider using roundbales instead, although they do have a lot of downsides and I might still stick with my current system. If your horse will be turned out with others then it is really important to ensure he is getting enough hay - keep a close eye on his weight (not just eye but HAND -- get in the habit of feelin' his ribs under the fur so you will notice any changes).

    (edited to add: this is usually a total of approx. 60-90 lbs hay per day for the three horses combined. It depends on the weather)

    I would suggest using a decent mixed hay -- straight grass, esp. first cut, may not have enough protein (unless you are bound and determined to grain the horse as well, in which case do the math if you know your hay's protein content or can make a sensible assumption). How you feed it matters, economically speaking. You'll have the least waste feeding it metered out several times per day (like I do), fed on clean snow in an area sheltered from the wind. You'll have maximal waste plopping a roundbale end-on onto the ground in a windy spot. I use 19 ~650-lb big square bales for the winter for my 3 horses, but your mileage will vary depending on your horse, your pasture, and how many months you're feeding hay.

    I also give the TBs a small amount of grain or pellets with a hoof supplement in it. In theory it should not be necessary; in practice, it results in much better hooves on the TBs so I do it.

    They do REALLY WELL this way -- MUCH healthier being out 24/7 than they ever were when stalled/turned-out at boarding barns.

    Hope this helps,

    Pat
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2008
  4. NewChickenMom

    NewChickenMom Chillin' With My Peeps

    418
    2
    131
    May 16, 2008
    Omaha, NE
    i don't live quite as far north as you do, but winters here can be hellish.

    i have 6 horses (QH broodmare, QH foxhunter, TB husbands horse, 17 y/o TB jumper, weanling from this year and teaser pony)

    i feed loads of hay just like others have said. i usually give everyone (weanling and pony share) about a bale a day in two feedings. i might try round bales as it will be easier, but we'll see.

    i also blanket. i blanket my broodmare, my TB's and my foxhunter as he will be clipped. i will also throw a waterproof sheet on the weanling, if he gets wet from snow and begins to shiver.

    i also grain. my older guy is on senior feed, everyone else (except pony who gets none) is on dumor stablenergy. i find this extra boost of grain keeps everyone happy and gets them all their required vitamins/minerals.

    i also would reccomend the salt block. be sure its set up off the ground. horses need salt more in the winter than in the summer and if you're guys aren't drinking enough, i would add some table salt to their grain. i have to do that with my broodmare because as the baby grows, she doesnt want to drink as much and her bowels slow down and she gets colic like symptoms.

    this is just how i do it, you will find your own way that things work out. just always check under blankets and through winter hair to make sure your horse is staying fit and not losing any weight.
     
  5. Stella1964

    Stella1964 Chillin' With My Peeps

    145
    0
    129
    Mar 30, 2008
    Ontario Canada
    Thanks New Chicken Mom! Appreciate the response!
     
  6. Stella1964

    Stella1964 Chillin' With My Peeps

    145
    0
    129
    Mar 30, 2008
    Ontario Canada
    Quote:Thanks Pat (waving back [​IMG]).

    I appreciate the feedback and that you took the time to type so much detail.

    Some background on my situation....I board my horse just south of Port Perry so I'm somewhat restricted in how he's being taken care of. The only board I can afford in these here parts is outdoor board ($300) as the other indoor boards with turnout are well over $400. Anyway, I didn't think this was a bad thing to choose because the place where I got Scout from said that he has always been an outdoor horse, 24/7 and never had a coat on him. The gal who runs the place where I board will not manage the coats and it's impractical for me to go every morning and every afternoon to check on him. Scout, and his other outdoor friends, have easy access to water, salt block, and round bails in a hay shelter, as well as a run in shed that faces south yet they never seem to use it.

    My dilemma is this...aside from not knowing every much about equine nutrition and quality of hays or how to tell a tasty blade of grass from a poor one...I work an hour away, M-F, and I can't start a regime of feeding him extra roughage on a schedule. It would have to be late afternoons, once a day. Is this possible? I'm interested in hearing more about the pellet for hooves. Ever since Scout had his front shoes removed, his feet are constantly chipping. If you could give me some idea where to look for these things, and how to pull it all together, I will start something with him.

    Are you going to the Royal this November? I'm hopeful to get more info, and perhaps some product, there but don't really want to wait that long.

    Stella
     
  7. chickypoo

    chickypoo Chillin' With My Peeps

    169
    2
    131
    Mar 13, 2008
    Colorado
    easy access to water, salt block, and round bails in a hay shelter, as well as a run in shed that faces south yet they never seem to use it. My dilemma is this...aside from not knowing every much about equine nutrition and quality of hays or how to tell a tasty blade of grass from a poor one...I work an hour away, M-F, and I can't start a regime of feeding him extra roughage on a schedule. It would have to be late afternoons, once a day. Is this possible?

    If they get cold they will use the shelter, horses can take the cold a lot better than we give them credit for. Their temperature range where they don't have to expend any energy to cool themselves or warm up is much broader than ours is.
    Does he have free access to the round bales? If so then giving him extra would be redundant and costly, he won't need it. The first rule of equine nutrition is horses are made to eat little meals frequently. They are grazers so if given free choice hay they will eat what they need to keep warm. Roughage is the best thing to keep a horse warm so I think he is fine.

    If the hay isn't free choice then you could run out and give him extra, I'm sure he would appreciate it. But like I said if the hay is free choice then you don't have to worry at all, he will eat what he needs.​
     
  8. chickbea

    chickbea Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 18, 2007
    Vermont
    Everyone has already beat me to the good advice.
    I think $300.00/mo. is a little steep if the person won't deal with changing blankets, but it sounds like you've found the best care you can.
    If he is out with other horses, they will do a very good job of keeping each other warm. The four horses I take care of will all cram into one stall on the really cold nights and cuddle up with each other - warm as toast!
     
  9. HuestisFarm

    HuestisFarm Chillin' With My Peeps

    233
    0
    119
    Sep 23, 2008
    Fly Creek, NY
    Well, I think everyone else has already said it best... nothing beats good quality hay in the winter for a horse! I also grain mine lightly during the colder days - more or less for my own comfort. *hehe* But please make sure yours has some type of shelter that he can use if he so desires.
     
  10. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    12,521
    108
    341
    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Chickbea, up here $300/month is unfortunately quite reasonable for pasture board (sigh - but remember this is within commuting distance of a major big city with lots of big-money folks [​IMG]). Actually I am surprised you can FIND somewhere that does pasture board, Stella, I only know of like 1-2 other places that offer it and have safe fences. It seems like a perfectly good plan to me, since you did find somewhere!

    Quote:So, if you're boarding, none of it really matters b/c you have no actual control over it anyhow [​IMG] All you need to know is to check his weight at every opportunity, by feeling his ribs and other relevant parts so you will know BY FEEL whether if he starts dropping weight.

    If the barn owner would be open to your having clothes on him as long as the barn owner didn't have to DO anything, and if his paddock mates are not blanket destroyers (unfortunately no way to know in advance), I would suggest having a waterproof-breathable turnout sheet (note: TURNOUT SHEET, i.e. uninsulated weatherproof thing; not a blanket, stable sheet, or rain sheet) that you can drive down there and put on him if cold wet weather is forecast, or if it will be fiendishly cold for a few days. Because a turnout SHEET is uninsulated, it is fine for a horse to have on even if the temp gets a little warmer than you expected (mine, in their full winter coats, don't start sweating under their turnout sheets unless the temp gets above freezing, usually *well* above freezing unless they run around)

    This is one of those things it's a lot better to have in advance as it can be real hard to buy a quality one on short notice. Please don't ask me for canadian brand recommendations either as I've had TERRIBLE luck with the durability of Greenhawk's house brand -- my guys wear Schneiders' from the states [​IMG]

    I'm interested in hearing more about the pellet for hooves. Ever since Scout had his front shoes removed, his feet are constantly chipping. If you could give me some idea where to look for these things, and how to pull it all together, I will start something with him.

    Well, are they chipping *badly* or just not looking manicured? Not looking manicured is fine, it's only an issue if it starts affecting overall hoof structure/integrity. If the latter, the cause may be a nutritional issue but it also may be a 'transition' issue (it can take a little while for hooves to get used to barefoot) or a farriery issue or a matter of what kind of ground he is worked on or even just intrinsic to the particular horse.

    If you think it might be nutritional, one possibility is he's not getting enough high-quality protein in his diet. If he is getting grain or any other concentrates, this is quite unlikely unless their hay is truly terrible, but if he is eating only hay and pasture, then it is a realistic possibility. Alfalfa pellets/cubes (if he can eat them without choke problems) or a small amount of higher protein concentrate, fed daily and long-term, might help.

    If that seems unlikely, you could *try* a biotin-methionine-zinc hoof supplement and see if, six months down the road, it seems to have helped. The one I use is, what's the name, I believe it's "BMZ", but there are many similar ones and you should crunch through the math to figure out which one gives you 35-45 mcg (or is it mg? I forget) of biotin, with suitable matching methionine and zinc doses, for the lowest overall price per that amount. It is definitely worth doing the math - some brands are major, major ripoffs. You can't just compare what the mfr lists as 'per dose' or 'per scoop' b/c diff brands will deliver diff am'ts of biotin for that 'scoop' or 'dose'.

    Are you going to the Royal this November? I'm hopeful to get more info, and perhaps some product, there but don't really want to wait that long.

    Yup, I'll probably go on Wednesday to see the poultry while they're there [​IMG] We always go (DH used to do photography there, of horses, and still usually brings camera [​IMG]). Be real, real leery of the sell-ya-things booths there, though -- remember they are making a living mainly off the Caledon-and-King type crowd, to whom results are only moderately relevant and price is no object [​IMG]

    Anyhow, as long as the barn has safe fences and decent hay and his paddock mates let him have his share, I expect your guy will do just FINE through the winter without much if any management on your end [​IMG]

    Have fun,

    Pat​
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by