Care of Horses in a Winter Cold Snap


In light of the fact it looks like another cold snap is working its way across the prairies again, I thought it might be helpful to post the following tips for horse care in winter. They may be redundant but it never hurts to have a refresher course, part way through the season.


2. Horses require additional energy from their diet to maintain body weight when temperatures drop below -20 degrees Celsius. Remember that pasture grasses do not grow during the colder months – and digging through snow to try and get at any left over grasses from the summer uses up the horse's precious energy stores. Providing good quality hay at 2% of the horse's body weight should meet his nutrient requirements for maintenance. Feeding hay also generates heat during digestion by gut microbes, and that helps horses stay warm.


4. Use hay feeders during the winter. Up to 20% of hay is wasted by horses when fed on the ground.

5. Consider adding fat to the diet in the form of oil or bran in order to increase the amount of energy in the diet. Fat packs more energy in each pound than carbohydrates.


7. Horses might decrease their consumption of cold or freezing water during the winter leading to an increased risk of colic. Make sure your horse is consuming at least 10 gallons of fresh clean water each day. Use tub and/or bucket heaters to help reduce ice formation and to keep the water lukewarm. Check all water sources and remove ice daily.


9. Provide salt blocks in fields and stalls. Although salt intake is more important during the hot summer months to replace sodium and chloride lost in sweat, horses do not meet their daily salt requirements by consuming forage alone.

10. Keep in mind that older horses have additional needs during the winter. Feeding a diet based on beet pulp prior to and during winter can help them maintain their weight during the winter.


4 thoughts on “Care of Horses in a Winter Cold Snap”

  1. Luellen McEwen

    I am caring for a “Mini”, and my greatest source of concern is she will not drink water. I have a small trough with a heater so the water is not cold. I have tried adding sugar to the water, no effect. What other means can I use to get this little horse to drink?

  2. Melissa Sword

    Sometimes a little loose salt added to a horses hay will induce them to drink.

Comments are closed.

Shopping Cart