Tuesday 4th of August 2020
Horse Nutrition

Summer Feeding – What to Watch Out For

As summer approaches, the weather is warmer and grass is growing. This means that most horses and ponies tend to gain weight readily, reducing the need for calories and protein supplied by hard feeds.

Care should be taken to avoid excessive weight gain as this, combined with high-sugar grass, can increase the risk of e.g. laminitis. For good-doers, it is sensible to take advantage of the natural cycle of weight loss during the winter. Allowing them to be on the light side of ideal weight when spring arrives can ease the struggle of weight loss regimes when grass is plentiful.

Longer daylight hours at this time of year and the competition season, often brings an increase in workload for many. This increases requirements for vitamins, minerals and trace elements in the diet which, in most cases, will not be met by grazing alone.

For horses whose calorie and protein requirements are met by grass, using a top specification multi-supplement or non-conditioning balancer is a perfect way of balancing this forage diet and supporting work without weight gain.   

With higher temperatures and increased sweating, it is important to also provide enough in the way of electrolytes, particularly salt.  This will help to avoid dehydration and a reduction in performance which can occur as a consequence.  For those on small amounts of hard feed, salt intake will be limited. A salt lick should be provided 24/7 for all horses and ponies, with further salt and/or electrolytes added to the hard feeds for two days following sweating.

Fresh water should also be available at all times and for those who don’t drink well, especially when out competing, different flavourings can be used to encourage fluid intake.

For horses that need help to maintain condition, which may be due to working hard or as a consequence of grass quality reducing later in summer, basing the diet on a top specification conditioning feed balancer is ideal. If further condition is needed, a suitable blend can be added and the quantity adjusted according to condition. 

Article supplied by nutritionists from the TopSpec Multiple Award-Winning-Helpline. 


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