Winter weather is here and with extreme cold on its way it is important to make sure you and your horses are well prepared for the looming inclement weather.
Winter weather can pose a disruption to the overall health and well-being of horses. As a result, it is important to take into consideration your horses’ specific needs and provide them with proper shelter and consistent routine during winter. Throughout the month of January we will discuss the basic needs for your horses throughout the remaining winter months.
One of the top, basic needs for horses during winter is a proper shelter to protect them from extreme winter weather. The first step to guarantee your horses have proper shelter. It is important to inspect the roof, walls, and foundation for damages that can potentially cause drafts or leaks throughout the winter. Make necessary repairs to avoid heat loss and moisture buildup. Ensure that the barn or shelter is large enough to comfortably accommodate all your horses and that it provides adequate ventilation. Proper ventilation can help reduce humidity build-up, which can lead to respiratory problems in horses.
Installing weather-resistant doors and windows, such as insulated storm doors and proper windows, can help maintain a manageable temperature inside the barn. Picking the right doors and windows can help prevent drafts and improve ventilation. Having shutters that can open and close to allow ventilation, while also blocking cold and drafty wind is ideal. If you have a shelter that is open on two sides opposed to three, or a shedrow barn facing the north or west, then your barn or shelter might benefit from temporary wind screens. Tarps can also be hung to block direct cold wind and rain to provide a dry and warm space for your horses.
Horses need a dry and comfortable place to rest in order to maintain good health and well-being. Stall bedding should be thick enough to provide cushioning, absorb moisture, and retain warmth. Horses tend to drink less during the winter, so provide them with clean and fresh water at all times. Using salt in food or providing salt blocks can help encourage horses to drink and stay hydrated. Insulated buckets will also help keep water from freezing which will help keep horses drinking proper amounts even on chilly nights.
Horses require a balanced diet that meets their nutritional needs throughout the year. During winter, you may need to adjust their feeding routines by increasing their intake of hay. Hay provides a natural source of warmth for horses and helps keep their digestive system working correctly. Make sure you have a reliable supply of hay during the winter and always store it in a dry area to avoid moisture buildup.