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Nutrition Notes – Hay

Q – How exactly does eating hay keep my horse warm in the winter? A – Eating hay provides two ways to help your horse stay warm. The first is simply through providing calories (energy), which can be used in metabolism to help maintain body temperature. When environmental temperatures start to drop in the winter, horses increase their metabolic rate as needed to maintain a stable body temperature. When feed is consumed, digested and metabolized, calories are made available for use. Different feeds have different amounts of energy (calories) per unit weight, based on their digestibility and chemical composition. While hay does have a relatively low energy density (Digestible Energy or Mcal/kg) compared to feeds such as vegetable oil or cereal grains, because a horse can safely eat a lot of it, those calories quickly add up. The number of additional calories your horse needs to consume on a cold day depends…

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