The onset of cold weather means horses need more feed to replace the energy lost by staying warm. But as you increase the feed for your horses this fall, make sure colic or founder doesn't become a problem.
"Concentrate composition and amounts should be increased gradually over a period of several days, especially if the horses are already consuming large quantities of grain," says Dave Freeman, Oklahoma Cooperative Extension equine specialist.
Horses may suffer from colic if ration change occurs too rapidly, reports Ron Hays with Radio Oklahoma Network. A horse's anatomy makes it very susceptible to colic, which can be caused by abrupt changes in diet, eating moldy hay or grain, overfeeding energy at a single feeding, or improper digestion and impact of nutrients brought on by ineffective deworming programs.
Grain rations have high levels of soluble carbohydrates, which provide energy efficiently. "However, eating too much of these compounds in one meal is a significant contributor to the frequency of colic and founder in horses," Freeman says. A general guideline is to limit concentrate intake to around 5 lbs./1,000 lbs. body weight/meal, he says. "Of course, some concentrates are less energy-dense than others, so following recommended intake levels on the feed bag is a good practice."
For more info, go to osufacts.okstate.edu/docushare/dsweb/View/Collection-298.