Hoof Nutrition Intelligence Hoof Nutrition Intelligence is a twice-a-month web segment that is designed to add to the education of footcare professionals when it comes to effectively feeding the hoof. The goal of this web-exclusive feature is to zero in on specific areas of hoof nutrition and avoid broad-based articles that simply look at the overall equine feeding situation.

Below you will find Part 2 of the latest question and answer installment that you can share with your footcare clients.

Q: Are there any special nutrition considerations to consider for the winter months?

By Lydia Gray

A: Making sure a horse receives enough quality feedstuffs to maintain its weight is critical during the winter months.

Forage, or hay, should make up the largest portion of its diet — about 1% to 2% of its body weight per day.

Since horses burn calories to stay warm, fortified grain can be added to keep it at a body condition score of 5 on a scale of 1 (emaciated) to 9 (obese).

If a horse is an easy keeper, will not be worked hard or should not have grain for medical reasons, then a ration balancer or complete multi-vitamin/mineral supplement is a better choice than grain. Increasing the amount of hay fed is the best way to keep weight on horses during the winter, as the fermentation process generates internal heat.

There are a number of health conditions that seem to be made worse by the winter environment. More time spent inside barns and stalls can exacerbate respiratory conditions such as “heaves” (now called recurrent airway obstruction), gastrointestinal conditions such as ulcers, and musculoskeletal conditions such as degenerative joint disease.

These problems can be addressed through appropriate management practices — such as increasing ventilation in the barn and increasing turnout time — and veterinary intervention in the form of medications and supplements.

Lydia Gray is SmartPak’s medical director and staff veterinarian.

Click here to read part 1 of the Jan. 20, 2022, installment of Hoof Nutrition Intelligence: Should biotin be fed to all horses regardless of the hoof quality? Click here to read more installments of Hoof Nutrition Intelligence.