MANAGING WEANLINGS IN WINTER with Kohnkes Own® CELL GROW®
Managing Weanlings in winter
Cold or chilly conditions with temperatures falling below 8oC overnight, start to sap increasing amounts of energy away as heat is radiated from the body surface area. Heat loss is partly alleviated by the stimulus to grow a thicker, longer hair coat. However, growing hair requires both energy and protein.
If the diet is deficient in energy, the weaning will still grow a long, shaggy coat, reducing its rate of development as essential nutrients are diverted to maintaining body warmth and to fuel hair growth. Although the diet may provide a theoretically adequate intake of energy and protein, under cold conditions, many factors can affect growth and development. These include energy loss from
shivering, as well as frequent exercise to keep warm. Studies have shown that horses will trot and canter for an average of 7-10 minutes at intervals of 1-2 hours to warm up under cold conditions, further diverting energy away from growth and development.
Winter pastures also have less nutritional value, with weanlings in a 10 hectare paddock walking long distances ranging between 16-25 km day, to obtain sufficient food. The exercise required for grazing also drains away energy from growth, especially under drought conditions. This can be reduced by limiting paddock size and providing and adequate well balanced feed in a comfortable
It is best to provide two hard feeds per day to maintain an adequate intake of energy to counteract cold overnight conditions in the morning and to prepare for the colder overnight temperatures, so that the growth rate is maintained. Once daily feeding particularly over night, can result in
gorging higher energy feeds and increase the risk of limb and joint abnormalities.
A high cereal grain or starch based diet, whilst providing energy for growth, will not provide adequate lysine for optimum development.
Studies indicate that twice daily feeding of weanlings and yearlings can avoid the risk of triggering hyperglycaemia (elevated blood glucose) and hyperinsulaemia (elevated circulating insulin hormone)that could result in abnormal cartilage and subchondral bone (bone under the cartilage in joints) development over a period of time. A single once daily large meal of a grain-based feed may trigger these responses, as well as lead to reduced utilisation of the starch in the small intestine. Overload of starch into the hindgut results in D-lactic acid build-up in the hindgut, which may also reduce tracemineral uptake and utilisation.
Low glycaemic feeds, such as lucerne, steam-rolled barley and good quality protein meals, are preferable to high intakes from a single meal of a higher glycaemic feed, such as oats and
other grains, as energy sources. Protein sources such as soyabean meal, which contains adequate lysine and other amino acids, lupins, sunflower seeds and canola meal, do not contain starch and provide energy for growth and development from their protein, fat and fibre content.
Researchers have also warned against supplying the majority of the energy feed as micronised or extruded grains (even barley), as they provide easily digested sugars (similar to oats) that could trigger the glycaemic response when fed once daily in a single meal without adequate roughage to balance the diet.
A daily supplement of Kohnke’s Own CELL-GROW® is recommended to provide bone minerals and trace-minerals for joint and bone development, with supplementary vitamins for health and vitality in foals after weaning, and as a top-up even on many prepared feeds to ensure an adequate intake of important trace minerals.
Did You Know That...
The immune defence is suppressed by the increased cortisol hormone levels resulting from the stress of the weaning process, inadequate nutrition or adverse conditions, many
young horses become “carriers” of the EHV-1 or 4 virus, which harbours in their pharyngeal lymph node or large tonsil area of the throat. They then act as a reservoir of infection, although the symptoms of EHV-1 are suppressed.
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