Feeding For Warmth

Keeping warm is hard work. If the weather turns bitter or you notice your horse has lost some weight, add fiber. Four pounds of hay or 3 pounds of a mash should do the trick. Digestion itself generates heat, and the fermenation of fiber produces the most. Plus, it’s a slow process, so the horse benefits from it as long as you keep the flow of fiber coming. Try these fiber choices:

Hay. You can turn up a horse’s internal furnace just by feeding more hay. Pound per pound, a good hay has about two-thirds the calorie content as grains.

Alfalfa pellets or cubes. Basically this is compressed hay, but it’s slightly higher calories than grass hay. Soak cubes/pellets to make a warm mash.

Beet pulp. Beet pulp is an excellent source of fiber. Calorie yield is comparable to grains. As an added plus, you can serve it as a warm mash and add some salt to encourage good drinking (see impaction on page 12).

Wheat bran. Is there a horse anywhere that doesn’t enjoy a hot bran mash’ On a weight basis, bran packs as many calories as bagged grains. It takes some adjusting to though, so start slowly, over the course of three to five days. Bran should also be paired with a high calcium source, like alfalfa or beet pulp. You can feed a 2:1 ratio of alfalfa to brain (e.g. 2 lbs. alfalfa with 1 lb. bran), and 3:1 ratio of beet pulp to bran, meaning 3 lbs. beet pulp with 1 lb. of bran.

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