Using Hay To Supplement Winter Feed For Livestock: What You Need To Know
Winter is very much here, and we’re all trying to find the best way to take care of what matters to us in these extremely difficult times. It’s vital that we don’t lose track of those crucial day-to-day matters and anyone who owns livestock will tell you that the start of the year, with its harsh, unpredictable weather, is always a crunch time. It’s when we must go the extra mile to make sure that our animals are getting all the food, essential nutrients, exercise and support, and when it comes keeping your livestock happy and healthy, you can’t beat hay.
Hay and straw have always been favourites among livestock owners, providing the backbone of animal’s diets throughout the year, and it’s doubly important in winter. Here’s what you need to need to know about using hay to supplement winter feed for your livestock, and where to buy hay and straw for your animals.
Forage Is Still Important In Winter, Especially For Horses
A great deal of a horse’s food consumption comes from forage (grass and hay), which is a lot easier in the summer when there’s plenty of new grass and other plants for them to find and eat. During the winter, forage should still be at the forefront of your feeding regime to meet their physiological and mental needs. It’s high in calories and will keep your animals from dropping too much weight during the lean winter months, and it’s high in fibre and keeps their digestive system working in good order, helping them avoid health issues like colic. But it’s especially important for horses as they are natural-born chewers. If you don’t give them forage to chew on, they will develop problematic behaviours.
How Much You Feed Will Depend On The Animal
With that being said, it’s not enough to just throw an extra bale into their stable during the winter. The questions of how much hay and the type of hay that you are using, are both important as these factors will, of course, depend on the animal in question. For example, if you are hoping that your horse will lose a few pounds gained over the summer during the colder months, remember that hay is a big building block for increased calorie intake. Similarly, if you know that your animal is prone to losing too much weight during the winter, then you can look at increasing the amount you’re feeding and buying bigger bales for its stall. If you’re in any doubt, talk to your vet about what your animal’s individual needs may be.
You Will Also Need To Think About Your Local Climate
Naturally, your winter routine will depend greatly on the climate where you’re situated when it comes to your livestock. However, it’s worth remembering a couple of essential points. First of all, you are, of course going to want to look for a hay supplier near you. If you are in Oxfordshire, for example, then you’re going to want to look for a farm supplying hay nearby. Some farms can also get it to you without hauling it long distance. If your animals are going outside the barn or stable during the bitterly cold months, they will be eating hay to convert to energy to stay warm, which must be factored in, while calculating how much hay to feed them. The weather will also impact hay placement when it comes to forage, which brings us to…
Think About Where You Are Feeding Them
The placement of hay during the winter months is something that should be carefully planned out. No matter whether your livestock will be out in the field or paddock or being kept warm inside during the winter, you need to think about where the hay will be placed. Horses will undoubtedly benefit from feeding in the field to keep up their routine and keep them active. If you’re looking to bring them inside, you should avoid causing any sudden shocks and use hay bales to save on storage space.
It is also imperative to make sure you are taking good care of your pastures during the winter months. If properly looked after, they will still provide nutrition for your livestock to make sure that they are getting natural food in addition to the hay bales and supplements. Think about employing the services of a professional to take care of your paddock maintenance and to ensure that your fields, grass and pasture are kept in tip-top condition during the winter.
Get In Touch Today!
For all your quality hay and straw, equestrian and agricultural needs, Hill View Farm in central Buckinghamshire has been farming for over 40 years and has been providing their services as a family run business for the last 35. Their decades of expertise and practical experience means that they are perfectly placed to help you find the solution you’re looking for, from maintenance and feed to gritting and fencing. They offer quality hay and straw so that you can get everything you need to feed your animals all year round.
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