Special management practices are required during the winter to ensure the health and proper body condition of your horse.
Good quality hay is the most important winter food given to horses. The best way to increase internal body heat while maintaining a safer, more consistent energy intake is to gradually increase the intake of hay. A horse should consume at least 1.5 to1.75% of its body weight in hay during cold periods. Thus, a 1000 pound mature horse should consume 15-17.5 pounds of hay daily to meet critical temperature needs during cold weather. (Critical temperature=when environmental temperatures, including wind chill, drop below 45 degrees farenheight).
Feeding of additional amount of concentrates or increasing the energy density of the concentrate, by adding fat in the form of 4 to 8 ounces or a vegetable oil per day, is especially important if the horse is in poor body condition with low body fat or is a "hard keeper".
Maintaining ample water intake is the most critical part of ensuring the health of your horse during cold weather and the best step to prevent the increased incidence of impaction colic! As the temperature decreases, the horse will consume less water. They prefer a water temperature of 45-65 degrees. No ice chunks in the water, thank you! If possible, offer 10 gallons of water (at 65 or warmer) twice daily.
And remember - BE THANKFUL - Winter here isn't long!