Jan 15, 2019

Feeding Horses in Cold Temperatures

By Dr. Stephen Duren - Standlee Premium Western Forage , Dr. Tania Cubitt
Photo courtesy of Standlee.

This educational article is brought to you by Standlee Hay Company, the Official Forage of the USEA.

Several environmental conditions affect horses in the winter:

  • Horses decrease feed intake in cold AND windy weather – seek shelter.
  • Snow accumulation greater than seven inches covers grass and decreases intake of pasture - decreases grazing time (24%) and decreases intake (22%).
  • Pawing through deep snow to get grass greatly increases the energy requirement of the horse.
  • In cold, windy conditions, horses lose more body heat and burn more energy to stay warm.

The “Lower Critical Temperature (LCT)” is the temperature below which metabolic heat production must be increased to maintain body temperature.

  • Mature Horses (LCT) = 5 to 41º F
    • Thin coat 41º F
    • Thick coat 5º F
  • Young Horses (LCT) = 12 to 32º F

For each decrease in coldness of one degree Fahrenheit below the critical temperature, there is an increase in digestible energy requirements for body temperature maintenance.

An average 1000-pound horse requires 15Mcal per day for maintenance under normal conditions, the following tables outline the additional digestible energy and hay intakes under inclement winter weather conditions.

Fiber should, in most cases, be the first ingredient to increase in your horses’ diet when trying to keep them warm. This is because the microbes in the hindgut produce heat as a by-product of breaking down fiber.

Estimated Feed Energy Increase at Different Magnitudes of Cold below the Lower Critical Temperature of Mature Horses

Difference in F Below Critical Temperature

Digestible Energy Increase (Mcals/day)

Average Feed Intake Increase (lb/day)*

0

0

0

10

2

2

20

4

4

30

6

6

40

8

8

*Assuming an energy density of 1.0 Mcal/pounds, which is typical of good, quality hay.

When wind and rain are added to the environmental conditions, the digestible energy requirement increases even further.

Effect of Wind and Rain on Digestible Energy Requirement for a 1000-pound Horse at Maintenance

Average temperature

Additional Mcal/day

Additional Hay

32 Degrees F

10-15 mph wind

4-8 Mcal/day

4-8 pounds of hay

32 Degrees F

rain

6 Mcal/day

6 pounds of hay

32 Degrees F

rain and wind

10-14 Mcal/day*

10-14 pounds/day

*May not be able to consume enough hay to meet requirements.

The tables above assume a 1000-pound horse eating at least one and a half percent of its body weight in hay to maintain body condition and health (at least 15 pounds of hay). The additional feed/hay intake is on top of the original 15 pounds plus of hay. A horse in freezing temperatures, also enduring rain and wind, would require 25 to 30 pounds of hay intake per day. This may be an unfeasible amount to supply to your horse or they may not be able to consume this much (older horses or pregnant mares). It should also be noted that most local grass hays are lower in digestible energy with values closer to 0.7-0.8 Mcal/lb, which further increases the quantity needed to maintain body condition in wintery conditions.

Standlee Premium Western Forage® provides a variety of high-quality forage products to help maintain body condition in winter conditions. Check out some great forage options to keep your horse supplied with a balanced diet at standleeforage.com.

May 12, 2021 Competitions

Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill Announces $300,000 Prize Money for Inaugural Event

The Fair Hill Organizing Committee (FHOC), an affiliate of the Sport and Entertainment Corporation of Maryland (The Sport Corp.), today announced athletes and horses in the inaugural Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill (CCI5*-L) will be competing for $300,000 in prize money. Additionally, the US Equestrian Federation (USEF) Eventing National Championship (CCI3*-L), running in conjunction with the 5 Star, will award $25,000 in prize money. Both events, as well as the United States Eventing Association (USEA) Young Event Horse East Coast Championships, will take place this October 14-17 at the new Fair Hill Special Event Zone in Cecil County, Maryland.

May 12, 2021 Education

Pre-Purchase Examination 101: With Dr. Shauna Spurlock

You’ve seen a horse you like. You’ve ridden it; you love it. The money’s right; you’ve agreed to buy it. What happens next?

Pre-purchase veterinary examinations are one of those topics that a roomful of horsey people could discuss - and argue amongst themselves about - for hours. For the amateur rider, that can be confusing and slightly alarming.

So, let’s simplify it. What is a pre-purchase examination, why are they done, and what should you expect?

May 11, 2021 Intercollegiate

Eyes on the Prize at the USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Championships

The USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Championships will take place later this month at the Virginia Horse Trials (VHT) in Lexington, Va. across May 27-30. Following the USEF COVID-19 Action Plan, the USEA is working with VHT organizer Andy Bowles to ensure the Championships are still a destination competition for all Intercollegiate event riders, packed full with an opening ceremony, the traditional “college town” area, the prestigious spirit award, and an abundance of prizes.

May 10, 2021 Eventing News

2021 FEI MER Changes effective July 1

The FEI passed rule changes impacting Minimum Eligibility Requirements in November 2020 that go into effect on July 1, 2021. The changes will impact athletes who are uncategorized, “D” and “C” athletes competing at the CCI4*-S, CCI3*-L, CCI4*-L, and CCI5*-L levels. Please see below for the highlighted changes. The USEF requirements to compete at these levels remain unchanged, but please remember that the USEF requirements must be achieved within 12 months of the competition. These changes will be adopted into the USEF Eventing Rulebook by July 1. See Appendix 3 for qualification requirements.

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