Preparing for grass and winter livery

Lizzie is a nutritionist with Saracen Horse Feeds and answers your feed-related queries
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Preparing for grass and winter livery

Postby Absolute_shambles » Fri Mar 30, 2012 11:05 am


I know it might be a little early for this, but just in case good preparation can happen now I thought I might ask it.

Can I prepare my TB's throughout the summer for a winter on grass? And I mean this in terms of building/bulking them up, or respecting and preparing them internally for a winter on grass and hay. What difference should I make to their feed in the summer compared to the winter?

Let's presume that they are in medium work during the summer and out of work in the winter.

Any advice appreciated

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Joined: Mon Jun 07, 2010 10:28 am

Re: Preparing for grass and winter livery

Postby Expert_LizzieDrury » Tue Apr 03, 2012 2:53 pm


If you are preparing to keep your horses out through the winter you can as you suggest start with some early preparation through the later summer months. The most important aspects of managing them through the winter will be that they are likely to need to have a greater reliance of alternative forage sources such as hay or haylage through the winter to supplement their winter grazing and the key will be introducing this to them before the grass quality and nutritional value declines too far and they start to loose too much weight. At the same time its a balance of having them entering the winter in optimum body condition and not being tempted to over feed them so that they are fat!!!

I would always recommend that you get in to the habit of condition scoring (or fat scoring) them on a fortnighly basis so that you keep good track of their body condition through the summer. This will help to give you an early indication of signs that they may not be getting as much from the pasture and therefore require supplementation with hay or haylage. Introducing small amounts of hay through the autumn and monitoring if the piles are cleared up is also a good indicator of appetite.

During the summer their diet will have a much lower dry matter content due to the higher water content of the pasture, so gradually introducing the hay or haylage through the autumn can also help to prevent the onset of impaction colics due to sudden and high intakes of forage sources with a much higher dry matter content.

Concentrate feed wise at this stage I would not change anything that you would normally do feeding wise through the summer in anticipation of the winter as this may leave you with horses that have put on too much weight. Yes, you want them to be entering the winter in optimum condition but avoid them entering it too fat!! The bulk of their calories comes from forage and a lack of forage through the winter is the biggest cause of weight loss, so I would make this my priority and make sure that I supplement their grazing with extra before it is too late.

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