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Beat the wet weather with nutrition advice from SPILLERS®

This winter’s persistently wet weather is proving to be a challenge for even the most hardened of horse owners. With fields under water or poached to oblivion it’s a challenge for the horse’s digestive system too. The nutrition experts at SPILLERS® have put together some timely tips to help you keep your horse nutritionally healthy through the remainder of the winter

• Turnout: It’s important to turn out daily for free exercise and fresh air but when there’s little or no grass to eat your horse may choose to gnaw hedges, trees and fence posts instead. The risk of sand colic increases if soil and mud are pulled up as your horse attempts to graze. Help avoid problems by putting hay in the field, remembering to add more piles than there are horses to prevent bullying.

 • Fibre is the most important component of every horse’s diet for physical and psychological health. Boost intake for shy forage feeders by choosing fibre-based feeds. SPILLERS® HAPPY HOOF® can provide bulk for good doers with low energy requirements. Highly digestible fibre sources with additional oil, such as SPILLERS® Conditioning Fibre, can boost fibre intake and provide additional non-heating calories to help maintain condition.

• Water: It’s vital for horses to drink regularly, especially when being fed dry hay, to minimise the risk of impaction colic. Remember to break ice on water buckets and troughs. If you horse doesn’t like cold water top buckets up with hot water. Feeding soaked feed such as sugar beet can also increase water intake and encourage drinking. Free access to a salt lick is ideal for horses and ponies in light work.

• Older horses: For those who struggle to chew hay or haylage an alternative fibre source such as soaked SPILLERS® High Fibre Cubes, sugar beet and short chopped fibre such as SPILLERS® HAPPY HOOF® can be used to partially or completely replace hay. 

• Thin horses: Aim for every mouthful to be the most calorific possible. Choose the best quality hay or haylage and try a conditioning feed such as SPILLERS® Conditioning Cubes or Mix alongside SPILLERS® Conditioning Fibre.

• Good doers: Use the winter as an opportunity to slim them down - don’t over-rug and supplement low energy hay with a balancer to provide vitamins, minerals and additional protein such as SPILLERS® Lite Balancer.

• Stabled horses: Use short chop forages to extend eating time, hang haynets in multiple locations and for greedy individuals use double haylage nets. Snack balls filled with SPILLERS® High Fibre Cubes can help keep minds occupied. To help avoid spooky or excitable behaviour when ridden opt for controlled starch, high fibre non-heating feeds such as SPILLERS® Horse and Pony Cubes.

Clare Barfoot, Registered Nutritionist at SPILLERS® concludes: “Horses are resilient. As long as they have access to forage, water and shelter, are given daily supplementary feed appropriate to the needs of the individual and have the opportunity to exercise daily, they are more likely to cope with this miserable wet weather far better than we can!”

For friendly feeding advice please telephone the SPILLERS® Care-Line on + 44 (0)1908 226626 or visit www.spillers-feeds.com