FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — JAN. 23, 2013 — Piles of fluffy snow in your pasture—and a horse that nibbles at them—making you think your horse is all set for water this winter? Sorry. Think again, please! The main cause of colic during the winter is from reduced water consumption. Snow will not provide enough water: A gallon (128 fluid ounces) of average-moisture snow only contains 10 ounces of water, far short of the 8-12 gallons of water your horse should consume each day. Also, eating snow will force your horse to burn precious calories to keep his body temperature steady.
Horses will not drink enough when the water is icy cold. Plan on heating your horse’s water to 50° F. And don’t forget the salt—it is necessary for electrolyte balance as well as to encourage your horse to drink. Either add table salt to each meal (one tablespoon, twice daily) or offer it free choice in a small bucket. A white salt block is helpful, though many horses avoid them. Mineralized or blue (from added iodine and cobalt) salt blocks are only appropriate if hay is the single feed source or if your horse is not receiving minerals from fortified feeds or supplements.
Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D. is an internationally respected equine nutritionist available for private consultations and speaking engagements. Dr. Getty is the Contributing Nutrition Editor for the Horse Journal, and her comprehensive reference book, Feed Your Horse Like a Horse can be purchased through her website and at Amazon.com. Also at www.gettyequinenutrition.com, sign up for her informative—and free—monthly newsletter, Forage for Thought, read articles, search her nutrition forum, enroll in upcoming teleseminars and purchase previously recorded events. Contact Dr. Getty directly at [email protected].