Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Feed Naturally to Prevent Winter Colic - and Don't Forget the Salt!

Prevent Seasonal Colic and Ulcers Holistically by Joyce Harman, DVM from HolisticHorse.com
Not something we want to see in our barn!
“It’s no secret that horses have a finicky digestive system. By design, they should move and graze for up to 20 hours a day. This natural behavior keeps the hindgut full, which leads to a properly functioning digestive tract. Most horse owners aren’t able to provide this optimum environment and alter the horse’s patterns to fit into their lifestyles. At times, that means stalling horses or keeping them in small paddocks, while feeding them large amounts of processed feed. Whether we realize it or not, altering the natural behavior puts stress on the horse’s body.”

Dehydration is often a primary cause of winter impaction colic. As the weather cools down, our horses may need to be encouraged to continue drinking adequate water - this is best done by adding salt daily to their feed. Most horses won’t get the one to two ounces (four to eight teaspoons) of salt they need to provide their sodiumrequirement (it's the sodium which triggers a thirst response) from a block. If your horses aren’t used to having salt added to their feed, you can start by “salting the environment” - literally sprinkling salt around their stall, on their hay, etc. the help them get used to the smell and taste.  Then gradually add up to at least one ounce per day for an average 900-1100 pound horse. If you provide free choice salt, make sure you monitor their intake.

It’s also important to monitor your horses’ water intake during the winter which can be difficult if you use automatic waterers - especially as they can be subject to freezing.

Old Camping Trick:  In my part of Arizona, we generally have only ten nights or less of hard freeze. I’ve found the easiest way to get fresh warm water to my horses on these days is to place a clean trash bag in muck buckets, fill them at the house then tie off the top of the bags.  I can then drive them to the barn in my truck or in a cart without sloshing or losing a drop. 

Warm regards from
Patti in sunny Vail AZ
 - where Fall has finally arrived

Winter Water Needs for Our Horses
Introducing New Feeds (or “salting the environment”)
Prevent Seasonal Colic and Ulcers Holistically

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