The snow storm that has hit the U.S. has affected 30 of the 50 states and stretches from Maine to Texas. There are snow drifts that are topping 10 feet in some areas and over a foot of fallen snow in Indiana, Illinois, Oklahoma, Kansas, and New York. In Chicago, firefighters are using snowmobiles to drive down the streets.
With this insane huge storm, it’s important to take care to make sure you, your family, and your critters are kept warm, dry, and safe. If you own horses, it is important to monitor their diet and health during these cold months. It is extremely important that they are getting enough vitamins and minerals to stay strong and healthy. Horses need to have a good mix of grains, hay, and that their coat, hooves, and teeth are kept clean.
Here are 10 tips to keeping your horse healthy during the winter months:
1: As the pasture quality and accessibility decreases, increase the hay. The best heat source for your horse is extra hay. During the winter month, it’s best to increase hay and not feed. Hay is digested in the colon and that results in heat production by bacterial fermentation.
2: Even if your horse is in a stable overnight, make sure they have a windbreaker. Dense shrubbery or a tarp over the shelter will cut down on the drafts.
3: Get a dental checkup! If your horse has any teeth problems, it could cause improper grinding of food and that can result in a loss of nutrients. Food is energy.
4: If it’s very cold, blanket your horse.
5: In the mornings, remove the blanket and brush them down looking for any signs of chafing or irritation. Don’t neglect their coat. A dirty coat can lose its ability to provide insulation.
6: In the barn, there may be drafts. The barn needs to be well ventilated but not drafty. Throw down some extra bedding and plug up any drafts.
7: Make sure your horse has enough water to drink and it does not freeze.
8: Around the water troughs, sprinkle alfalfa meal on icy spots. Alfalfa contains nitrogen to promote melting and can also provide traction.
9: If you stall your horses, blanket them as it will protect them from the cold. Horses that have each other, will huddle for warmth but in stalls they don’t have this option. It’s important to not let their body temperature decrease.
10: Check those hooves! Keep them trimmed, clean, and that will prevent snow, slush, and ice from building up. They will also have a better grip on the ground.