Winter feed/water - Page 2
 
 

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Winter feed/water

This is a discussion on Winter feed/water within the Horse Health forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Horses category
  • Can horses eat alfafa in winter
  • Can horses live in the snow for 3 days?

 
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    01-24-2010, 05:21 PM
  #11
Green Broke
Something sounds odd. What do you mean you just found out who the "real" owners are??? Are they stolen?
     
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    01-24-2010, 05:37 PM
  #12
Started
I live at 7000 feet and have snow and sometimes-30 below zero F. My three horses get fresh hay twice a day, grain in the morning and alfafa pellets at night. They also have 2 75 gallon water tanks, both are heated, I have to drag a hose to fill the water troughs and bring them back inside the house to keep them unfrozen. Horses can't survive on snow, they would have to eat gallons and gallons of cold snow to even begin to have enough water, because they are eating cold snow, it is even worse. As far as hay, they need hay to keep them going while digging through snow to get at whatever is underneath. Whatever is left underneath has absolutely no food value, like eating straw.
I work for a vet and during the winter we see horses almost everyday with blockages and colic due to eating snow for water. I live in a valley where the oldtimers still feel a horse can eat enough snow to keep their water needs up. Not true. It is very very important that horses have clean water to drink, up to 7 gallons a day per horse.
As far as shelter, alot of states don't require shelter and won't even be worried about horses being made to eat snow. Our state doesnt require shelter for animals and if you turn someone in, if they see signs of any hay and there is snow on the ground, they are happy.
     
    01-24-2010, 06:13 PM
  #13
Started
Ranger - it would seem that you have taken on a lot - 4 arabs on 120 acres of snowed up grassland up at 7000 feet, 75 miles from the nearest feed store.

From the description you give - there is a strong risk of the horses losing condition over a hard winter - an arab is a breed of horse originating from a hot climate and is not well equipped to cope with a harsh winter such as you seem to be experiencing. The horses will need ample hay and supplementary feeding to keep out the cold and to maintain condition. Personally I think they need rugging up and as a minimum some shelter from the wind.

I would not have left my old horse - a very hardy woolly cob out, untended in such conditions as you describe. Even he would have needed some shelter, plus fresh clean water and unlimited hay.

Eating snow to assuage thirst is not recommended practice as in the process the horse uses up energy to melt the snow in its mouth. They need a constant supply of cool fresh water - and water is heavy especially over 200 yards.

The big risk you run is of both colic and laminitis - founder. Grass which grows under frost and snow tends to hold a high sugar content - which might provoke laminitis. If the snow does melt quickly then certainly there is a risk of the horses gorging themselves - which again might bring on laminitis or colic.

Colic in a horse is very distressing to watch and you'll need the help of a vet to save the horse - which will cost money.

We over here have already had this year in our barn one case of laminitis which the vet puts down to the pony eating too much grass on what is in fact a badly poached small field of 3 acres max. You have allowed 120 acres for 4 horses needing only 2 acres each. We partition areas of grassland off with portable electric fencing powered by a battery so as to ration the horse's eating area.

I would suggest that every day watch every horse to make sure they are not lame (the sign of laminitis) also check to make sure none of the horses are lying down on their sides (the sign of colic).

If you can get near them with safety then check their feet and the exposed soft tissue areas around the muzzle for frostbite.
Whilst you are there check for warmth by feeling at the base of the ears

You are presumably through half the winter - let us hope you get through the
Second half without incident. Then you'll have the problem of catching the horses.

Whilst I admire your generosity in offering to look after the horses I do wonder if you realised at the time what you took on. Anyone who drives 150 miles along icey roads for hay has a good heart. Perhaps along with the hay it would have been a good idea for you to buy hard feed - say a specialist pasture mix plus some instant sugar beet plus some vegetable oil.

You need some help Ranger. All of we Forum readers are a long way away.
I have no personal experience of keeping horses in a cold climate at 7000 feet
Perhaps there are others living in cold regions who can give you some tips

I can only suggest you look on the internet at:
laminitis/founder. Colic. Horse nutrition. The arab horse.
As a start try the 'Wikipedia' website

I do hope all goes well for you and that the Spring comes quickly - but then with the Spring grass comes a bigger risk of laminitis. Sadly you are in a no win situation. The owners of the horses were not honest with you - or they did not care about the welfare of their horses.

B G
     
    01-25-2010, 03:11 AM
  #14
Green Broke
Eating snow!?

Are they serious?
That is horrible!

And they don't have to eat?

I know they are your friend but I would report them.
That is not fair to the horses.
The won't have the energy to keep their bodies warm when it's cold out.
     
    01-25-2010, 10:28 AM
  #15
Foal
Quote:
Yes, I haul hot water for the trough's and also brush them each day to keep their coats from getting matted with ice etc
You should not groom horses when it is cold out. When you groom a horse you break up the little pockets of air and oil that thier winter coat holds for insulation. This inadvertantly alllows moisture to get to the skin and you can cause many skin infections this way as well as cause the horse to be much colder.

I hope you have all this sorted out, It sounds like something fishy is going on with both the ownership and care (or lack of) by the person you think is the owner.

It is a good thing thay have you to make sure they have food and water :)

Kristine
     

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