Q. I live in northeastern Ohio, and it gets pretty cold here at times. My question is: Have you heard of horses getting colic from frozen sweet feeds? I have had horses for the past 40 years and have yet to come upon this happening, but have a friend who is quite certain that this can happen. Any suggestions? I have mixed oats with my feed at times and supplemented with linseed pellets for the horses' coats, and I always make sure that they have plenty of fresh water.


A. Many things have been associated with colic. However, I know that many sweet feeds are kept in feed rooms where the temperature drops well below freezing, and I have not seen an association between this and colic.

Having plenty of fresh water is always a good idea, and in cold climates or seasons it is important to have warm water available. Small water heaters often keep water from freezing, but the water temperature can be fairly cold. Something to consider in colder days or climates is to use a water heater that gets the drinking water temperature up to 60°F (15.5°C) or more. Horses seem to drink more when the temperature of the water is more comfortable.

For more information, see "Water Temperature and Drinking Behavior."

About the Author

Joseph J. Bertone, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVS

Joseph J. Bertone, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVS is a professor of equine medicine at Western University of Health Science's College of Veterinary Medicine in Pomona, Ca.

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