Critical Supplementing in Winter for Horses

Winter is coming fast and horses will need certain critical supplements to get through healthy and happy! Most horses get hay as the pasture dies down and some get a commercial feed as well. But this is NOT enough! Here’s what you must supplement to prevent deficiencies…

Certain nutrients in hay go down with time. Actually as soon as hay is cut the vitamins, minerals etc. start to drop.  So here’s the big ones to watch for and if needed make sure you supplement. These amounts are based on an average 1000 lb horse.

  1. Omega 3 fatty acids – can be fed via freshly ground Flax seeds or Chia Seeds. Give at least 4 TBS daily as a MINIMUM.
  2. Vitamin E – horses may need anywhere from 2000 to 5000 IU depending on health factors, age and so on. BUT because this is a fat soluble vitamin you want to be careful and not create toxicities. Check what is in your commercial feed first. Sticking to around 1000 IU is probably best unless you are advised specifically for your horse.
  3. B-Vitamins drop heavily in hay. Give 100 mg of a good B-Complex 2 x daily during the cold winter months or while on hay only diet.
  4. Carotene in hay (precursor to Vitamin A) drops sharply in hay. The older the hay the worse this is. Feeding 1 medium sized carrot daily will take care of this easily and will make your horse happy. Carrots are safe to feed even to metabolic horses as long as the horse isn’t in an Acute Laminitic state then hold off till inflammation is gone.
  5. Vitamin D – this is especially a problem for horses kept indoors a lot or constantly blanketed. 3000 IU is usually a safe bet however some horses may need much higher doses depending on the situation. Again though this is a fat soluble vitamin (that can’t just be urinated out when in excess) so if you want to give more make sure to get the advice of a Holistic Nutritionist or Vet.

Remember to feed a whole food supplement or a good all around supplement during the winter months to make sure you fill in the gaps if you aren’t feeding a specific feed that is well rounded. Most feeds are not. And NONE are ‘Complete’. When in doubt do a hair test on your horse to determine exactly what his/her needs are and take the guess work out completely!


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