By Dr Tom Shurlock of British Horse Feeds
The major challenge over winter is to maintain body heat within the Zone of Thermoneutrality – the environmental temperature range within which a horse can maintain its core body temperature without resorting to extreme methods; that is shivering or sweating. For a mature animal the lower temperature is around 7oC, but for the veteran it can be considerably higher.
Insulating the veteran is the first step. Stabling, or a good coat, is a physical step we can take, but feeding up during autumn will add a layer of fat beneath the skin – the best insulation you can get. Feeding a good veteran feed, like Baileys No.15 Senior, will help build up and provide that insulation, as well as those extra nutrients which are essential to bolster metabolism.
The second step is providing heat. Feed Speedi-Beet or Fibre-Beet as warm mashes. Cold feed and water will chill the gut and energy will be expended to combat this.
The third step is to increase the amount of fermentation in the hindgut. This will generate more heat, this heat will help maintain deep body temperature, and provide more absorbed nutrients to metabolise. 80% of metabolisable energy is used to maintain body temperature in the veteran during winter and this can be supplied with super fibres. Speedi-Beet and Fibre-Beet are both super fibre providers and can substitute some of the less fermentable forage. This increases the energy density of the diet.
As your veteran will tend to spend less time feeding, increase the energy density by increasing the amounts of Speedi-Beet or Fibre-Beet (high proportions of fermentative energy) to provide the energy to keep warm!
For more information on Fibre-Beet or Speedi-Beet please contact British Horse Feeds on 01765 680300 or visit www.britishhorsefeeds.com. You can also join British Horse Feeds on Facebook.