Horse feeding information can often be confusing due to the different opinions that exist. However, there are some basic principals that are essential to a healthy diet.
It is of utmost importance to ensure that your horse has clean, fresh water at all times. It is a fact that horses do consume more water in the cold months of winter, than they do during the warmer months of the year. It is a common misconception that the opposite is true. In a perfect world, we would all have an automatic source for our horses, which would not freeze up in arctic climates, and don't have to be filled every couple of days. Not everyone has that luxury. However, there are good ways to water your horse, and keep that water fresh, without breaking your budget or your back.
Poly stock tanks are available at most farm stores for a nominal fee. These make excellent water containers, as they don't crack when it's freezing outside. You can put tank heaters in them to keep the water from freezing as well. It is important to put a cage around that submersible tank heater though, to prevent it from melting a hole in your tank. An old bathtub will also work, as will any plastic tub. Be sure to clean the container with full-strength bleach to kill any algae that may grow. Rinsing your tank well will remove all the bleach and will not harm your horse.
If you end up using a garden hose to carry the water to your tank, be sure to buy one that is rated for feeding. Some hoses have ingredients in them that make them unsuitable for carrying water for animal or human consumption. This information is listed on the label, so be sure you know what you are buying. Water hoses come in many different lengths, and now even come in a collapsible form, which works very well for those colder climates where water will freeze inside your hose if it is left outside.
Part of a general overview on feeding horses is to be sure you have a trace mineral block and an iodized salt block for him. These blocks provide the essential vitamins and minerals your horse needs daily. He will lick or chew the blocks as he feels the need for those minerals. These blocks are readily available at most feed stores and most farm-related stores as well.
Feeding your horse is also a very important thing to do for him. As mentioned before, this is a general overview on feeding horses; it is not intended to replace what your vet may tell you to do with your particular equine. It is important to have a general overview on feeding horses. Depending on what kind of horse you have, and how much or how little work he gets, you will want to feed him accordingly.
Hay will be needed during the winter months if you live in an area where the grass is dormant. Grain may be necessary in cold climates to help your horse maintain a healthy weight during those cold months too. Good quality grass hay can be obtained from feed stores and farmers for reasonable fees. Crimped oats or cracked or rolled corn make good feeds for those horses needing something extra during those cold months to assist there metabolism in keeping them warm and healthy. Keep in mind, this is just a general overview on feeding horses, if you should have any concerns that are not addressed in this article, it is best to consult your veterinarian.
Overfeeding an idle horse, or one who gets fed more than he can burn off during exercise will do more harm to him than good. A fat horse in not a healthy horse. A good rule of thumb is that you should be able to run your fingers along his rib cage with light pressure and be able to feel his ribs. If you can do that, then you can be assured your horse is in good shape. However, if you have to lean into your fingers and apply heavy pressure to feel his ribs, he is overweight. Overweight horses have extra stress on their hearts with the extra fat that builds up around them. This makes it harder for the heart to pump blood to the rest of his body, and increases his risk of having a heart attack.
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