Clinton G. Depew | 6/7/2006 2:11:57 AM
In the summer months it is highly important to consider the water consumption of your horse. "Water is the most essential nutrient that we provide in a horse’s diet," says former LSU AgCenter horse specialist Dr. Clint Depew, and Southwest Region Horse Agent Howard Cormier.
Since the horse’s body is made up of approximately 70 percent water, the horse has about 700 to 800 pounds of water in its body, Depew explains.
Horses typically consume from 5 to 10 gallons of water daily; however, intake varies as a result of temperature, humidity, lactation and exercise. When the temperature and humidity increase, a horse may double its water intake. When a horse is working and sweating profusely, it can lose 5 percent to 10 percent of its body weight. Therefore, horse owners should be conscientious about providing adequate water.
The horse expert adds that broodmares produce 30 to 40 pounds of milk per day for their growing foals and need water to replenish their body. Lactation doubles a mare’s water requirement.
Cormier reminds owners that horses should be given unlimited quantities of clean, fresh water at all times. Always check the water troughs and/or buckets to ensure that the water is clean, fresh and readily available. Although large troughs supply large amounts of water to herds, they are more difficult to clean, and this task usually gets put off due to the time needed for the task. Smaller automatic waterers are easier to clean, and provide fresher, cooler water because they refill more frequently. They are also usually designed for ease of cleaning, which is not always the case in big tank waterers, Cormier added.
When traveling with horses Depew and Cormier advise carrying water from home, since horses tend to be reluctant to drink water that tastes different. If a horse is not drinking adequate water, feed consumption should be reduced accordingly to avoid impactions and colics.
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture