Keeping a horse in good condition throughout the cold winter months can be a challenge for many owners, particularly those with fussy eaters or poor doers that can soon start to lose weight as the temperature dips.
Ad-lib forage provides slow release energy and acts as your horse’s personal central-heating system as the fibre ferments in the hind gut. This alone, however, will not be enough to maintain a poor doer’s weight.
For those requiring increased energy intake, slow-release sources such as oil and fibre should be chosen. Dengie Alfa-A Oil is a great conditioning feed for poor doers or horses in hard work. It’s tried and trusted formula combines alfalfa with an oil coating. Molasses- and preservative-free, Alfa-A Oil provides the same amount of energy as a conditioning or competition mix or cube and can be fed as a sole “bucket feed” or alongside a broad spectrum supplement from Dengie’s Vits & Mins range.
Another great source of highly digestible fibre is Dengie Alfa-Beet. It is made from a combination of alfalfa and sugar beet, which must be soaked prior to feeding. Low in starch and molasses-free, Alfa-Beet has a sugar level of less than 5 per cent – less than half of what you would expect to find in hay – and can help to promote and maintain weight gain and aid hydration.
Alfa-Beet is a straight feed, so it should be fed with a vitamin and mineral supplement from the Dengie Vits & Mins range – or a compound feed – to ensure a balanced diet.
Making sure the correct quantities are fed is crucial; as a rough guide, a large, round feed scoop holds 400g of Dengie Alfa-A Oil. Remember, however, that as fibre takes a long time to chew it’s not a problem if your horse doesn’t eat the feed all in one go. It is perfectly natural and, indeed, beneficial to re-visit the feed over a few hours.
You can keep abreast of just how much your horse weighs by using a weigh tape and body condition score. If you are unsure how to do this we have put together two handy videos to show you how.
For further advice on how to maintain condition over the winter months call the Dengie Feedline on 0845 345 5115 or chat to a nutritionist via our live-chat feature online.