During the hot summer months, water consumption is very important. But did you know that the amount of water your horse consumes can actually increase during the winter period? This happens because the horses consume drier winter feeds, which usually have a 15% moisture content in comparison to 60% to 80% moisture from pasture feeding. When horses don’t drink enough water and eat food that is too dry they can suffer from impaction colic.
Bob Stenbom, DVM, who works with Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica Inc. as a senior equine professional veterinarian, also recommends horse owners to monitor the water intake of their horses, especially during the winter months.
He said that water is necessary for digestion of food as horses are unable to utilize their food well if they don’t have enough water supply. He added that he has seen malnourished horses simply because they do not consume enough water to go along with their food.
He offered the following tips that you can follow during the winter months to ensure good care of your horses:
1) Consider scheduling an examination of your horse’s health. During an examination, you can resolve dental, parasite or any other health issues of your horse.
2) Make sure you give your horse high-quality forage. Forage digestion takes a lot of time and this can ensure more body heat generation for your horse.
3) Horse with a defective tooth or other serious dental problems can experience sensitivity, which affects water and feed intake of your horse.
4) Snow and ice are not the best water sources. Horses usually require an average of 10 to 12 gallons of clean water per day. Therefore, ensure to check your horse tanks frequently to make sure they are not frozen.
5) Make sure that your horses know how to drink water from their water trough or heated water. He said that he has witnessed horses that have watered exclusively out of water buckets for a very long period time. If you are just starting to feed your horses with water from a horse trough ensure that they are able to drink from them properly.
6) Maintain grooming and hoof care of your horses during the winter. Hooves should be kept clean and trimmed regularly.
7) Finally, try to balance your horse’s environment by providing adequate shelter in addition to providing enough space for horses to move freely. If you lock up horses for a long period of time during winter they can develop respiratory diseases.
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