Ensuring Adequate Water Intake During Winter

Ensuring adequate water intake in cold weather

Here are 3 easy suggestions to ensure your horse is getting enough water in the winter.

1) Provide moist feed when possible.

Soak hay in room-temperature water prior to feeding (offer soaked hay as long as the hay doesn’t turn into haycicles before it is consumed).

Add warm water and a couple of chopped carrots/apples to your horse’s regular grain meal, or introduce a super fiber such as beet pulp into the daily ration, soaking it in warm water before feeding.

Resist the temptation to feed the occasional wheat bran mash, as it causes more harm than good.

2) Keep drinking water from getting too cold or freezing.

The ideal temperature for drinking water is between 45°F and 65°F. In one study, ponies offered hot water (close to 90°F) drank 40% more water than when offered cooler water. (Reference: Kristula, M.A.; McDonnell, S.M. Drinking water temperature affects consumption of water during cold weather in ponies. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 41: 155-160, 1994).

Offer warmer water to horses that are older and may have sensitive teeth, are drinking less than normal amounts, or those with a history of impaction.

3) Ensure horses are consuming adequate levels of salt.

Salt stimulates the thirst response and helps keep horses drinking. At rest, a horse should be eating about 2 oz of salt per day. In most cases this requirement can be met by providing free-choice access to a plain white salt block.

If horses continue to work during the winter, supplement with a well-balanced electrolyte such as ElectrolyteWise™ (using vet code WC15047 at checkout) to ensure proper hydration and electrolyte replacement.

KPPVET

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