Water is life. For the good health of your horse, it is advisable to provide between three to eight gallons of water daily. Besides the providing water, you need to ensure that it is a clean and fresh water.
What is the role of water in a horse's diet?
Water is the most important nutrient in the diet of any horse and it plays a number of activities in the body. Some of these include:
- Helps in digestion
- Lubricates the joints
- Helps in thermoregulation, or in maintaining the body temperature, of the horse
- Aids in maintaining an elastic skin tone
- Helps in cushioning the central nervous system
- Aids in enhancing the hearing and sight.
Facts About Horse Water Intake
Horses are very susceptible to dehydration when they lack sufficient water. This is because they are able to lose up to 4% of their total body weight in water through urination, sweating, respiration and manure in just 24 hours. Besides this, if a horse goes for 48 hours without water, it can lose up to 6.8%, and in 72 hours up to 9%. If you want to know whether your horse is dehydrated, look for symptoms like sunken eyes, a slowed capillary refill time, a tucked up appearance or a dry mucous membrane. Provide adequate fresh water to your horse to keep it healthy.
The other fact about horses is that they cannot survive five or six days without water. On average, you will require about three to eight gallons of water per day to keep your horse well hydrated. The amount of water will vary based on factors like the ambient temperature, their exertion level, and the components of its diet.
The highest cause of dehydration in horses is sweating. It can be common when a horse is involved in strenuous exercise, especially if in combination with high heat and humidity in the area. You should increase the level of available water by about three to four times in areas where temperatures are high. In case your horse has a scours or diarrhea, it is at risk of losing even more water. And this can imply that your horse will find it hard to regulate the body temperature, which can result in fever.
Horses are also very susceptible to impaction colic, not only during the winter, but at any given there is a decrease in water consumption. The other factor that may contribute to this is a diet of dried forage. It is healthier for the horse to graze on fresh and juicy pasture than on roughage or hay cubes. This is because fresh and juicy pasture can extract much of their water intake, unlike hay.
Due to the increased energy and protein needs of lactating mares or foals, they will need extra water. They are also likely to lose more water in the milk production and placental fluids. Most of foals will begin taking more water at the age of one to two weeks as they gain their liquid needs through nursing.
Image credit: horsechannel.com
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