Feeding your horse during Covid-19

Professor Jo-Anne Murray
PhD, MSc, PgDip, BSc (Hons), BHSII, RNutr, PFHEA University of Glasgow Veterinary School

It is such an unpredictable time just now, with all competitions and event cancelled. This may result in some horses stepping back from work for a period of time and maybe others being ridden more if owners are not in work and have more time to ride. Therefore, it is highly likely that the feeding and management of many horses may change.

As I have discussed previously any sudden change in management of feeding increases the risk of your horse developing colic. For example, if your horses have been in work and you are now stepping that back in light of being unable to compete, you will likely drop the amount of hard feed provided. As a recommended, it is best to do this more gradually, as a sudden increase in the amount of forage provided may increase the risk of colic. Also, stepping back your concentrate feed may result in less vitamins and minerals being provided in the diet and therefore it is important to ensure that you are feeding your horses a good quality vitamin and mineral supplement such as Selenavite E.

A further consideration is the wet weather in the UK has meant that many horses have been stabled more than they normally would be over the winter months. Given that we are now in spring and with some luck we will see an improvement in weather, the fields should helpfully begin to dry up and we’ll be able to turnout for longer periods. This is also a change in management and feeding as your horse will go from being stabled and fed forage to being at pasture and having access to grass. Whilst that is good for the horse’s welfare to have more turnout, it is also advisable that this is built up gradually as a sudden change of this type can also increase the risk of colic.

Even with careful management of changes in diet and management, a horse’s gut is extremely sensitive to any change. To counter the effect that environmental factors can have on gut health, such as diet and management, it can be beneficial to incorporate a probiotic into your horse’s daily diet. There has been considerable research conducted on the benefits of yeast supplementation on gut health and digestion in horses, where the yeast appears to help maintain a stable microbial population even in times of change. This is where Transvite Excel comes in and being upwards of 250% stronger than leading brands, this leading pro and prebiotic is ideal for your horse.

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