The horse industry in Iowa is growing faster than ever before. From activities surrounding horse breeding, showing, racing, housing, training, riding and care, it employs more than 2,100 people and accounts for millions in revenue each year. The economic impact from horse breeding and owning is doing much to support our state’s ag-centric economy, and we need you to play an important part in making this message heard.
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Cold temperatures combined with wet, snowy and windy conditions increase the feed requirements necessary to maintain the body condition in horses. Extra calories are necessary to meet the energy requirements necessary for keeping warm. The best way to meet the increased energy requirements if feeding more good quality hay
Barn fire prevention is very important. Listed below are recommendations to help minimize the chances of a barn catching fire. Most stable fires are ordinary combustibles such as hay burning. The next major cause of barn fires are electrical fires.
The average size horse drinks 10 to 12 gallons of water per day. Draft horses may drink up to 15 to 20 gallons of water a day. A lactating mare or a horse that has sweated a lot will drink more. Cold weather increases feed or energy intake so the horse can tolerate the weather. Many horses consume more hay. Water has a role in moving digesta through the intestine. Lack of fresh, unfrozen water is the number one cause of colic during the winter due to intestinal impaction. One of the worst disasters is if the horse does not have access to water. If a horse cannot drink or the water is frozen, the horse becomes dehydrated. Twenty-four hours of water deprivation can cause a horse to lose 4% of its body weight. Forty-eight hours of water deprivation can cause a horse to lose 6.8% of its body weight and after 72 hours, body weight loss has increased to 9%. Dehydration symptoms may include dry mucous membranes, sunken eyes, slow capillary refill, tucked up appearance and loss of elasticity in skin. The horse will also start reducing feed intake and may ultimately refuse to eat.
A heated water bucket, heater in water troughs, and a heated automatic watered are options to provide unfrozen water. Without heaters, make sure the ice is broken on the horse’s water supply. You could encourage the horse to drink by providing lukewarm water or water between 40 oF and 75 oF. If you are using a submergible electric water heater in a water trough, check to see if it is giving off stray voltage and shocking the horses when trying to drink. Personally, I have had problems with horses stopping drinking even with electric water heaters in troughs. I would place my hand in the water trough and they felt fine but the horses were not drinking. I then took water buckets out to the horses and they drank freely. Most likely, the water heater released a small current that the horses felt but I did not with my hand. I replaced the heater and the horses started drinking again. Automatic waterers are more difficult to assess. Make sure the heating element is on and there is no stray voltage. Try to observe the horses drinking to get a true assessment if they are using an automatic waterer.
The body condition of horses based on the degree of fat cover is a good indicator of a horse’s general health. The body condition score (BCS) allows one to access if the horse is too thin, too fat, or about right. Horses are scored on a scale from 1 (poor) to 9 (extremely fat)
Many ponies and horses are overweight which puts them at a higher risk for obesity, insulin resistance, laminitis and equine metabolic syndrome. These diseases are associated with the animal eating high intakes of nonstructural carbohydrates (NSC) which causes caloric intake to exceed the horse’s requirements. For horses with the above problems, feed restriction and stall/dry lot confinement are recommended. The use of a grazing muzzle may allow the horse to be turned out on pasture. It is best to allow animals at risk for laminitis to graze during the overnight hours and early in the morning when NSC are likely to be lower in the pasture.