Topics

Cold Winter Temperatures

Reta Heaslip
 

How much extra hay do I feed during cold spells? There are varying recommendations in past ECIR messages and online sources. Some sources suggest increasing daily hay ration by 10% at specific temperature markers when temperatures are at or below -5 degrees C, for example, if daily hay ration is 15 lbs then an extra 1.5 lbs is added at -5 degrees C, an extra 3 lbs at -10 degrees C, etc. One of the ECIR messengers suggests to add 5 lbs hay for temperatures from -3 degrees to -9 degrees C, add 8 lbs hay for temperatures -10 to -14 degrees C, add 15 lbs for temperatures -15 to -20 degrees C. In message #216095, Jaini Clougher refers to a calculation based on Digestable Energy when temperatures drop to -9.4 degrees C and this includes the wind chill factor. I'm not familiar with this method. (I need to take Dr. K's course). Then there is the added concern of mineral mix? Does this need adjustment if temperatures fluctuate in and out of the cold range? If temperatures stay below, say, -9.4 degrees C for an extended period of time, then how do I adjust additional mineral mix?

My horse lives on his own in his dry lot 24/7. There is an option of coming indoors during really inclement weather. He grows a wonderful warm winter coat and is not blanketed. He has a shelter with two openings facing west. He also has the advantage of a treeline that helps buffer west winds. His shelter, when he uses it, protects him from north/northeast winds. With a shelter available, should I be considering wind chill factor when determining extra hay?

Whistler is an easy keeper and I try hard to keep his weight under control with good hay management. I want to ensure that he is offered what he needs to keep warm and healthy. As always, I welcome your responses, advice and widsdom.


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Reta
Sept 7, 2017
Gananoque, ON, CA

https://ecir.groups.io/g/CaseHistory/files/Reta%20and%20Whistler .

https://ecir.groups.io/g/CaseHistory/album?id=10035

 

Hi Reta,
Although I live not too far from you and we probably share a similar climate, I just make my winter hay adjustments based on body condition.  I have three horses together and one of them is a very easy keeper.  The other two are not so I put out a limited amount of hay spread around outside for their turnout and give them their ‘regular’ amounts in their separate stalls.  That’s the hay I adjust if I see that more is needed.  I will say that over the course of a winter, there is always more wasted hay build up outside than I’d like to see so the fine tuning could still be better.

In terms of mineral supplementation, I approach it that the hay needs the supplementation to make it work for the horse.  One scoop of my supplements corrects 22# of my current hay so I adjust the amount of supplements I give to balance the amount of hay fed.   11# of hay requires half a scoop of my supplement mix, 33# of hay needs 1.5 scoops and so on.  I use a custom vitamin mix which is extended with flax, I think, to make it easier to measure.  It looks like you might prepare your own, which is wonderful.  I would like to do the same but I think I might still extend it with flax for easier adjustment to the hay amounts.

Hope this is at least some help.
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Martha in Vermont
ECIR Group Primary Response
July 2012 
 
Logo (dec. 7/20/19), Tobit(EC) and Pumpkin, Handy and Silver (EC/IR)

Martha and Logo


 
 

 

Hi, Reta. I don't know how much a spreadsheet will help you if you haven't already taken the NRCPlus course. Please don't think I'm insulting your intelligence. There's math, and not everyone is equally comfortable with it. Anyway, head over the ECIR Housekeeping and search the files for "cold". Patti put together an awesome-if-you-understand-it chart for estimating hay increase based on the digestible energy of your analyzed hay and the weight of your horse. The original article is also posted there.
https://ecir.groups.io/g/Horsekeeping/files/Cold%20Weather%20Feeding%20Chart.pdf

The original spreadsheet for creating these calculations is in the ECIR files, here: 
Cold Weather Feeding (1).xls

Yes, I'd add in wind chill even if your horse has a shelter.

As for minerals, again, lots of math. Adding a proportionately greater amount of your mineral balancing mix as suggested by Martha is where I'd start.

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Cass, Sonoma Co., CA 2012
ECIR Group Moderator
Cayuse Case History                Cayuse Photos
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Eleanor Kellon, VMD
 

Before loading them up on food too much also see the thread that starts here:

https://ecir.groups.io/g/main/message/242523?p=,,,20,0,0,0::Created,,primitive,20,2,0,39770764

It likely depends on breed.
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Eleanor in PA

www.drkellon.com  2 for 1 course sale
EC Owner 2001

Kirsten Rasmussen
 

Thank you for sharing those links Cass!  This is the first winter my guy will not be free-fed so I wasn't sure how much to increase his hay now that we are in the negative Celcius range...I thought we could go quite a bit colder (-15C) before increasing hay, so this was very eye-opening! 


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Kirsten and Shaku (IR) - 2019
Kitimat, BC, Canada
ECIR Group Moderator
 
Shaku's Case History  
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Lorna Cane
 

I think it really depends so much on the horse. And his management....stable,shelter,woods,wind direction,etc.


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Lorna Cane
Ontario, Canada
2002


 

 

It's a lot of math when common sense is usually enough here. OTOH, having once arrived for the morning hay feed after an unexpected hard freeze overnight - at the time I was feeding minimum maintenance for weight loss - my mare galloped up, looked at me wild-eyed and tore into morning hay with a purpose. I had left her unblanketed as usual on a dry lot with inadequate forage for the overnight temperatures and conditions. For her, an extra pound or so of overnight hay and blanketing at our critical temperature (<40℉/4.5℃) has made all the difference. No morning desperation since.

Cass, Sonoma Co., CA 2012
ECIR Group Moderator
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Daisy Shepherd
 

very interesting info from that thread;  new thoughts for me and my canadian horse;  he may not be a primitive breed but his diet needs may mirror the primitive breed.  thank you, daisy and tiko
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Daisy, Tiko and Whisper
CO, April 2019
Case History:  https://ecir.groups.io/g/CaseHistory/files/Daisy%20and%20Tiko 
Photo Album: https://ecir.groups.io/g/CaseHistory/album?id=90099&p=Name,,,20,2,0,0

Reta Heaslip
 

It's taken awhile for me to process the articles and spreadsheet. But this is what I am taking away from the information. Whistler is a Rocky Mountain horse - a breed that is considered primitive (ancestral to modern day horses). As such his IR will increase during cold weather and metabolic rate decrease. In order to keep IR in check and at the same time increase metabolic rate, I need to pay close attention to ESC and calories going in during fall and winter months.  (consider other ways of reducing energy needs besides food). Another article stated "winter-acclimatized domestic horses have found a zone of thermoneutrality" (no increase in metabolic rate) between 10 deg. C and -15 deg. C. Metabolic rate increases during onsets of acute cold. This has me wondering why spreadsheet data shows increase in calories starting at a temperature of 4.4 deg. C. I have yet to read the article by Dr. Mowrey from which the the cold weather feeding requirements are based. However, my first impression is the temperature of 4.4 seems so generous and in Whistler's case - risky. (A guideline only.)

The article on "energy regulation for maintaining a high body temperature at low ambient temperatures in winter" was valuable. It allowed me to think about how improving body insulation, reducing locomotive activity and using body energy reserves for fuel metabolism relates to my horse. Whistler has a great winter coat for insulation, shelter, trees, etc. but I don't think he has a reserve of body fat having been on a regulated hay diet all year at maintenance level. There may be other factors I'm unaware of that help fuel metabolism but ESC and the number of calories going in are fairly constant. He is in a dry lot by himself so movement is restricted. Winter riding will decrease. So now the question is how do I affect a balance between controlling IR (as much as possible) and increasing metabolism while providing sufficient calories to meet his energy needs on those cold bitter days. If I have misinterpreted information, please set me straight. I appreciated all the information provided by ECIR members, links, etc.

I use a hay rationer as mineral mix so will ask the person who balances my hay for input.

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Reta
Sept 7, 2017
Gananoque, ON, CA

https://ecir.groups.io/g/CaseHistory/files/Reta%20and%20Whistler .

https://ecir.groups.io/g/CaseHistory/album?id=10035