Kentucky Performance Products: Feeding Special Needs in the Winter

Preventing winter weight gain in easy keepers.

  • Some horses gain weight when given a winter break from trail riding, training, and/or showing.
  • Monitor your horse’s weight carefully during breaks and, if necessary, back off on concentrates.
  • When you feed less than the recommended amounts of a commercial concentrate, you need to supplement with a complete vitamin and mineral pellet (Micro-Phase ™) to ensure your horse’s nutrient requirements are met.
  • Never cut back on hay to reduce calorie intake; instead, change to a more mature grass hay that will provide plenty of fiber but less energy.

Weight loss in hard keepers and how to avoid a winter energy crisis.

  • Long hair coats often mask weight loss, so monitor your horse’s weight carefully. Regular body condition scoring is beneficial. Don’t wait to increase calories; do it at the first sign of weight loss.
  • Provide free-choice high-quality forage 24/7, when possible.
  • When additional calories are needed, add a high-fat supplement (Equi-Jewel®) to the diet. Avoid feeding large amounts of concentrates high in starch and sugar, as they increase the risk of colic and laminitis.
  • Provide a digestive tract supplement (Neigh-Lox® Advanced) to ensure digestive health and stimulate the appetite.

Careful winter management reduces the risk of health problems in metabolically challenged horses.

  • Winter can be a risky time for metabolically challenged horses. Research has shown that cold weather causes greater variability in a horse’s insulin levels. Additionally, horses tend to exercise less when it is cold, which can cause insulin levels to increase.
  • Continue feeding a low starch and sugar diet throughout the winter months.
  • If your horse is on medication or supplements to help control metabolic disease, continue to use them as prescribed.
  • Keep a close eye on your horse and check in with your vet if you see any foot soreness or other out-of-the-ordinary behavior.
  • When additional calories are needed to keep your horse warm in cold weather, increase the amount of grass hay you feed.
  • If you need even more calories to maintain body weight or provide energy, add a high-fat supplement (Equi-Jewel®) that is low in starch and sugar to the diet.

About Kentucky Performance Products LLC:

Struggling to provide optimal nutrition to your insulin-resistant or PPID horse?

Ask your vet about NutrientWiseTM vitamin and mineral supplement. NutrientWise delivers the nutrients your horse needs without excess sugar, starch or calories.

NutrientWise provides:

  • Chelated trace minerals, which are easily digested and utilized.
  • Essential natural vitamin E and other vitamins in highly bioavailable forms.
  • Yeast cultures that increase digestibility of the entire diet so your horse gets as much nutrition as possible from the feed he eats.
  • NutrientWise is a very palatable alfalfa-based pellet that horses love to eat!

For more information, visit

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