Winter Horse Care Tips
What do you do with livestock as the weather moves from chilly to downright cold? If you happen to own llamas, hogs, or horses, it’s something you need to think about. Caring for outdoor animals during the winter requires a bit of preparation, especially when it comes to horse care. Here are some winter horse care and livestock care tips.
Winter horse care means providing enough shelter from the elements
If your land has a lot of trees, those usually suffice as wind barriers for horses. They’re also serviceable when it rains. However, providing more adequate shelter is a natural part of horse care, especially during harsh winters. One option is to use a storage structure, like an extra-large garage. Don’t worry. The animals won’t be sharing space with your cars. As long as there’s a big enough opening for the animals to run in and out of easily, they’ll be happy and sheltered without a problem.
Winter Horse Care Options for Frequent Horse Riders
Run-in sheds are a fantastic option if you plan on doing a lot of riding during the winter season. These sheds are open-ended, and many are spacious enough for more than one horse. They’re inexpensive and mobile, because assembly is relatively simple. Invest in a run-in shelter as large as 22 x 20 x 10 feet and enjoy your winter rides. When you return, you’ll have shelter too as you dry your horse off.
Pay Attention to Ice Build-Up for the Safety of Your Horse
Icy ground isn’t just a peril to humans. Ice is slippery for horses too. Check their hooves for ice at least twice a day, if not more. Have sand handy to take the slip out of icy ground, around feeding troughs and at the entryway to corrals and run-in shelters. Doing this will protect your horses from injuries.
Dealing with Mud Is Part of Good Horse Care
If you own a lot of acreage, it’s easier for a horse to avoid mud for the most part. If excess mud accumulates on a horse’s legs and isn’t removed, though, it invites bacterial and fungal infections. Treatment is expensive and time-consuming. Avoid the issue by cleaning your horse regularly and building a pad in areas that are prone to mud, like feeding and watering areas. Having a waterproof run-in shed will also give horses relief from mud puddles.
Shelter and More Hay Keep Horses Healthy and Warm During the Winter
During warmer seasons, most horses will eat less than 2% of their body weight per day, unless they happen to be pregnant, constantly active, or older. When it gets extremely cold, the amount of hay a horse consumes will increase by 5 or 10 extra pounds. Horses do this because digesting fiber keeps them warm. Make sure you have additional hay meals prepared in their shelter for mid-day snacks.
Winter horse care clearly requires attention to detail. Knowing how much to feed them, how to keep them safe from injury, and what type of shelter is adequate are only some of the things owners need to do to ensure their horses are happily protected during the winter.