Top Ways to Keep Horses Warm in the Winter

Posted by Jyme Nichols, PhD on Feb 16th 2021

Top Ways to Keep Horses Warm in the Winter

Bitter cold temperatures are taking over much of the country right now, and many owners are wondering how to keep their horses warm.

As numbers on the thermometer drop below your horse’s lower critical temperature, here are two things you can do to help them stay warm:

1.The first thing you should do is feed more hay. Digesting hay is kind of like turning on the furnace inside your horse – extra metabolic heat is produced through hay digestion which warms a horse from the inside out.

In fact, “calorie intake in horses increases by 1.25% for every degree Farenheight dropped below the lower critical temperature. Providing more hay in cold weather is the best way to meet this increased calorie demand. Grain products don't produce as much metabolic heat as forage.” - #FEEDROOMCHEMIST Episode 49 - Cold Weather Feeding

Remember, the more hay and dry feed your horse consumes, the more water they will need. Research has shown that horses prefer water that is not cold and icy. So, it’s a great idea to offer water in a heated bucket or use a tank heater in winter months to avoid ice. Check out this blog post for more cold weather feeding tips.

2. A fluffy coat is a warm coat. A horse’s long winter coat is helpful for trapping body heat. Long hairs stand on end and trap warm air (much like down-filled winter coats that people wear). Horses eating select Bluebonnet horse feeds are at a serious advantage when it comes to coat warmth. Intensify®, Equilene® and select Horseman’s Elite® feeds contain unique trace minerals research-proven to improve coat quality, increase coat length and increase coat density. All of this creates an extra fluffy coat that helps keep your horse even warmer in the winter months.

If your horse doesn’t have a fluffy winter coat, is underweight, very young, old or has poor body condition, it’s very likely that they will need blankets.

For even more cold weather tips listen to  Episode 49 of Feed Room Chemist: An Equine Nutrition Podcast. Available on Apple PodcastsGoogle PodcastsSpotify | Stitcher or your favorite platform.