Am I not feeding him right? It may seem counterintuitive to make a thin horse burn calories to gain weight, but the work will help him to build muscles, and exercise will increase his appetite. I will have to post pics when i get home cause the change was really amazing. Suitable feed with be rice bran. We all know them—those busybodies who spend their time running back and forth between window and door, nickering to other horses and soliciting attention from every person. Don’t forget that a horse’s social status can change over time, and the addition or subtraction of other members can rewrite the whole equation. Also, commercial products are available that combine yeast and a probiotic for maximal regeneration and efficiency of the microbial population. You must be patient when you are trying to put weight on a horse. When a horse does not have enough calories or protein in the diet, the body will break down its own muscle tissue and deplete much of the adipose tissue or fat. Most horses seem to like beet pulp, and it’s a good matrix for blending in supplements or other feed additives such as oils or rice bran. This could be accomplished by adding 2 pounds of Strategy (3000 kcals) and 2 pounds of alfalfa hay (approximately 1800 kcals) per day, or maybe 2.5 … Without compromising the nutrition the horse needs, the too fat horse will need to lose weight. All Rights Reserved. More research is necessary to establish the efficacy of feeding supplemental enzymes. The primary disadvantage of feeding animal fats is palatability; oils are much more appealing to the horse, although many commercial animal fats have flavorings added to improve the taste. Putting the weight back on is usually the easier part, that's mainly just good nutrition. Since protein is essential for growth, it should make up a bulk of the nutrients in a horse feed designed for weight gain. Abrupt changes in a horse’s diet can lead to colic, laminitis and other ills. Sometimes, getting a thin horse to gain weight is simply a matter of increasing the caloric density of the diet. Second, excessive fermentation of starch drops the pH of the hindgut, which will decrease the efficiency of the bacteria that digest fiber and produce energy. Follow feeding instructions on the label for serving sizes for any commercial products. For this, you just need to maintain the horse’s condition with its regular exercise and … To sustain a healthy weight, a horse needs to consume a daily ration of 2 to 3 percent of his body weight each day; of that, at least 1.5 to 2 percent needs to be some form of forage. Once you’ve identified and addressed the most probable reasons for your horse’s weight loss, it’s time to develop a strategy to put the pounds back on. Commonly used in commercial horse feeds, soy hulls are slightly lower in digestibility than beet pulp. Installing heaters or taking other steps to prevent water buckets from freezing in winter is crucial, and in the summer moving some of the outside sources into the shade can help to keep it more palatable. 45 pounds of gain in 90 days is 1/2 pound per day, a safe goal to aim for. You’ll find a number of supplements and feeds on the market formulated to help horses gain weight safely. Linseed, sunflower seeds and other seeds can also provide fat in the diet, but a notable problem does arise when feeding vast amounts of seeds. The metabolic rate determines whether a horse is an easy or hard keeper, and the variation between horses can be extreme. To help your horse gain weight, assuming he was getting restricted amounts of good-quality hay, Ralston suggests increasing his current forage ration until his total feed reaches at least 2.5 percent of his desired body weight. That means two pounds of total feed for every 100 pounds that he weighs, or 20 pounds for a 1,000-pound horse just for maintenance—more will be needed for weight gain. Whenever you are changing the number of concentrates, do it gradually to decrease the possibility of problems like founder or colic. At this point, he’ll need softer foods, such as soaked hay pellets, beet pulp or senior feed, to maintain his weight. The digestibility of pasture is usually higher than hay because the curing process of haymaking results in digestible fiber losses. Added dietary fat has proven to be an invaluable tool for packing weight on a hard keeper. In fact, weight loss is one of the major signs of gastric ulcers, along with tooth grinding, a grumpy attitude and poor performance. The biggest concern with rice bran is that it is also high in phosphorus, which can inhibit the amount of calcium available in the horse’s body. Routine dental exams—annually for most adult horses, or every six months for seniors or those who have had problems in the past—can catch and address any developing problems early, before they affect a horse’s overall health and body weight. As with oil, rice bran needs to be added to the diet slowly, starting with about a cup at a time, working up to one or two pounds daily. If that happens, the fiber and calories provided by forage in the horse’s diet must be replaced by appropriate dietary components that he is able to chew and process. In fact, the average pleasure horse in light to moderate work can maintain a healthy weight on forage alone. Of course, some horses seem naturally more prone to weight loss; a “hard keeper” may have a metabolism that requires more than the usual amount of calories for maintenance, or he may readily lose his appetite—and drop pounds—in response to even slight variations in management routine, weather or other factors. There are differences between various fat sources which make one more useful than another in different circumstances. Normally horses have no problem digesting fat as long as it is introduced gradually into the diet. Although there has not been definitive research performed on the benefit of adding enzymes to the diet, the theory is well founded. What kind of changes can be made to his feeding program to encourage weight gain? And as usual, when it comes to horses, the trademarked short answer is "It Depends". Most will be accompanied by other obvious signs, such as diarrhea, colic, fever or lethargy—but in some cases signs of illness might be extremely subtle or nonexistent. Weigh everything that you’re currently feeding your horse. One quick test of the quality of hay is to squeeze a handful. Protein promotes weight gain. Amylase production has been found to be quite variable among horses. Unfortunately, there is a point of no return when a horse gets too much grain in its digestive tract and the delicate balance of the microbial population is upset. At all times, the horse was associated with work. Rice bran is an excellent product for improving body condition and topline of thin horses because it is a combination of rice oil and highly digestible fiber. Commercial concentrates, which are formulated for complete, balanced nutrition, can be a valuable source of calories for a thin horse, but they must be used wisely. The safest way to increase the energy in your horse’s ration is to bolster the fat content. The warmbloods look super. An average 1000 lb horse needs to consume from 2 to to 3% of his/her own body weight in forage and feed daily, or 20 to 30 pounds total daily ration for a 1000 pound horse. The laminitis trigger factors that pass into the blood can also induce laminitis. If you have trouble bringing your horse back to his ideal weight, don’t hesitate to consult with an equine nutritionist. Introducing starving horses to too much food too quickly can cause serious digestive consequences that may be fatal. Keeping weight on a perpetually thin horse can be tricky, but the effort will be worth it when you see him moving out across the pasture looking fit, strong and healthy. Caution is necessary when feeding pellets as some hay should still be fed if possible because of the important laxative effect of long fiber in the diet. First, it’s a good idea to establish a system for measuring your horse’s weight as accurately and objectively as you can. You want to choose the highest quality hay you can find for your thin horse. Extra TLC can really help a horse recover quickly! If introduced slowly, horses can adapt to higher fat intakes, and you can reduce the concerns associated with really high starch intakes such as wide fluctuation in blood glucose and insulin levels seen with high-grain concentrates. Ample fresh water, of course, is essential year-round—loss of appetite is one of the effects of dehydration. Clearly, your horse is losing weight. Conversely, a fast metabolism needs a higher caloric intake in order to function properly. Keep tabs on conditions in the field to make sure none of the horses are being bullied away from the food or water. Oils are very good and healthy for horses, both to gain weight and to aid the digestion of other foods. Then one morning it strikes you: Watching him turn toward you in the paddock, you can see a faint outline of every rib along his sides, and his haunches are looking a little less rounded, too. The quality of the forage matters, too. In fact, he has lost body condition. Fresh green spring grass is much higher in digestible fiber than parched summer grass. In the winter, steps to help a horse who is having trouble keeping on weight include adding blankets and bringing him into the barn when temperatures dip. Since few areas of the country allow for high-quality grazing year-round, most of us must supplement our horses’ diets at least part of the time with hay. But the devil is in the details. About 4500 additional kcal per day over the normal amount fed should achieve half a pound of gain per day. "When you add weight when a horse is standing, the force of the weight is divided through all four limbs," Wickler says. In other words, a horse loses weight simply because his caloric needs are not being met. On the flip side, wheat bran complements a diet high in alfalfa hay because of the calcium in the alfalfa. Roasted soybeans are also great in small quantities but will increase the protein percentage of the diet too much if fed in larger amounts. Blending a flake or two of good-quality alfalfa in with a ration of grass hay is another way to add nutritional value to your forage. For example, most people think that you can put any person on your back. Could it be as simple as insufficient caloric intake? Choose the highest quality hay you can find for your thin horse. Introduce it slowly, one pound (dry weight) per feeding, up to 0.5 percent of your horse’s body weight. Be in regular contact with your vet and monitor the horse closely. © 2020 by Cruz Bay Publishing, Inc., an Active Interest Media company, The Ultimate Guide to Horse Feed, Supplements, and Nutrition, Feed Your Horse Like A Horse: Optimize Your Horse's Nutrition for a Lifetime of Vibrant Health. Many new feeds are appearing on the markets that incorporate high fat levels (> 6%) with high fiber ingredients like beet pulp or soy hulls. That’s five pounds for a 1,000-pound horse. Free-choice access to hay will also help a horse to generate internal heat around the clock. If your horse has been inactive, consider implementing a moderate exercise program. After warming up long and low, start to pick the reins up and ask for more collection. Alfalfa is higher in calories and protein than grass hays, which makes it an excellent choice to help to add weight to a thin horse. © Copyright 2020 Kentucky Equine Research. Temperament often goes hand in hand with metabolic rate. That means two pounds of total feed for every 100 pounds that he weighs, or 20 pounds for a 1,000-pound horse just for maintenance—more will be needed for weight gain. But it’s important to know how much your horse eats up front so that you can begin increasing his feed in an orderly fashion. In this article, energy refers to the potential of a feed to fuel body functions and exercise. Traditionally, fat was added to give the coat a healthy shine. If amylase is the limiting factor in small intestinal grain digestion, adding amylase to the feed may reduce the amount of grain channeling into the cecum and colon. Treating any underlying illnesses or injuries will likely be enough to get him gaining weight again. All of these are important considerations when evaluating how much a horse can carry. As the bacteria die they produce endotoxins and laminitis trigger factors which can cause colic. With small intakes of animal fat the digestibility difference is insignificant, but when higher levels are fed, that portion of indigestible fat can start to play havoc with the balance of microbes in the hindgut. The horse may be reluctant to trust humans, if he or she came from an abusive situation. Both products are made with alfalfa that has been harvested when digestible fiber is at its peak. • Dental issues. A heavy parasite load can not only rob your horse of calories but also over time it may damage his intestinal tract to the point that it inhibits his ability to extract nutrients from his food. When trying to put weight on horses, adding extra hay like you’re doing is always the first and best option. A number of diseases can lead to weight loss. According to the study, it typically takes between 3 and 5 months to fully rehabilitate a horse to his previous weight. In other words, if your horse currently weighs 1,000 pounds, and you’d like him to be 1,100, then your target would be 2.5 percent of 1,100, or 27.5 pounds of hay. In addition, the pain of arthritis can interfere with a horse’s feed intake by preventing him from walking to hay feeders or covering enough ground to graze sufficiently. In general, members of certain breeds have faster metabolisms and need more food to maintain body condition than members of other breeds. Use the table below as a guideline. Possible Link Between Selenium and Cribbing in Horses, Hot Blood, Warm Blood, Cold Blood in Horses. Like with other dietary changes, oil needs to be introduced slowly, starting with a quarter cup per day, and adding another quarter cup every few days, up to a maximum of two cups for an average size horse—less for small horses and ponies. Yeast has been researched and found to improve fiber digestibility. Alfalfa hay is often combined with timothy hay or whole corn plants to create cubes lower in protein and calcium content than pure alfalfa cubes. Once your horse is at ease, stand on its left side and drape the tape over its back just behind its withers, or the small hump at the base of the neck. Metabolism is the speed at which the body burns fuels for energy in order to maintain normal body functions. >> Click here to read about common equine dental problems. A young plant harvested prior to maturity will have a lower lignin content than a plant allowed maturing before cutting. Increasing the caloric intake of a horse is not problematic if careful attention is paid to the feedstuffs offered to the horse. Hi I got a horse from camelot auction and he is skinny i would love to know some tricks and tips on how to put weight on him. If you’re not already receiving the EQUUS newsletter, click here to sign up. The danger of feeding too much starch occurs because certain horses have a sensitivity to starch overload, perhaps precipitated by low amylase production or large meals of unprocessed grains. Wheat bran is a rich energy source because it is abundant in digestible fiber and starch. Therefore, as lignin content of a feed increases, digestibility decreases. Another horse we took in Elmo took about 1 year to put all his weight back on. Your veterinarian will also investigate possible sources of chronic pain, which can put a horse off of his feed. If your horse has been consuming all of the forage he wants, and he still is not gaining weight after several weeks, it’s time to add some more calories to the ration. What could be wrong? “Check his liver and kidney function and screen for chronic infections.”. Dietary fat works best when fed in conjunction with grain and/or highly digestible fiber sources like beet pulp (not neglecting good quality hay or pasture). Some horses are metabolically inclined to be hard keepers while others have medical, psychological or environmental reasons for having difficulty in maintaining weight. Few people thought that this strong animal also has some limitations. Feed for a weight gain of 0.5 to 0.75 pounds daily. Chromium yeast has been effective in reducing the incidence of chronic founder in some ponies and the incidence of chronic tying up in some horses with intolerance to high grain diets. Energy is a general term, yet many horsemen associate the word energy with mental energy. To further complicate the situation, not all starch molecules are created equal. When comparing the energy content of alfalfa (lucerne) and grass hays, alfalfa hay can provide a horse with more energy than grass hay of similar quality. For the hard keeper, however, fiber alone will not maintain weight, but there are fiber feeding strategies that can increase the ability of the horse to derive energy from fiber. The part that seems to take forever, and which dictates how soon you can start riding, is muscle and conditioning. 4 Consider using a high-protein hard feed. And suddenly the questions are flying through your mind: What’s wrong? It can take up to six months to see normal results. Keep in mind that all feeds and supplements should be formulated for the horse’s individual needs based on age, sex, workload, and body condition. Internal parasites can be a major contributing factor to weight loss or inability to put on weight. Vitamin E, Oxidative Stress, and PPID in Horses: Is There a Link? It is safest to put weight on a horse slowly, so let’s take 90 days for this example. When a horse cannot maintain weight on hay or grass alone, the addition of starch in the form of grains has been the most traditional method of increasing the energy density of the diet. If you don't have lush pasture, the horse can still gain weight well on the sweet feed and the oil. To put weight on him, I do ALL of these three things: keep him on lush grass 24 hours/day, also give him 3 big scoops of sweet feed 2 or 3 times each day, add at least 2 cups of vegetable oil (i.e. Soaking a horse’s feed can sometimes encourage him to eat more, but never provide more in one meal than he can eat before it either freezes in winter or goes rancid in the summer heat. The rest of the diet should be designed around the minimal forage requirement. The second obstacle is digestibility. The cascade of problems begins with too much grain passing from the small intestine to the cecum and colon. A high-fat diet is an invaluable tool for achieving weight gain in a skinny horse as long as the gastrointestinal tract of the horse will tolerate the fat. The best horse feed should contain a reliable source of protein. Sign up for free now! It might be best to move them to a quieter location, or offer them their larger meals at night when the barn is more peaceful, so that they can settle down and give their full attention to eating. Then there’s the picky eater, who pushes his pellets around or picks out the choicest bits of hay and poops on the rest. The greatest advantage of using fat as an energy source is that it helps to avoid excessive intakes of grain. Other times, the diet may need to be higher in calories because of a medical, psychological or environmental problem. Be sure to give the horse extra attention as well. Start by adding 1/4 cup of oil a day to your horse's diet, and after a … [Learn more about equine nutrition with these books]The Ultimate Guide to Horse Feed, Supplements, and NutritionThe Horse Nutrition HandbookFeed Your Horse Like A Horse: Optimize Your Horse's Nutrition for a Lifetime of Vibrant Health[Disclaimer: EQUUS may earn an affiliate commission when you buy through links on our site. Do you have a question about feeding your horse? See what a difference Big Sky minerals make with gaining weight on a emaciated horse just under 4 weeks . Likewise, a horse who is stressed by travel, intense training, herd squabbles or other disruptions may eat less and/or burn more energy and end up losing weight. While carbohydrates and proteins offer around four calories per gram, fats offer a whopping nine calories per gram. How can i put weight on him so i will be able to ride this season??? Too much too fast, and your horse will develop diarrhea and steatorrhea (fatty stools)—his manure will have an oily sheen from undigested oils passing through his system. Weight gain in the horse can be attributed to protein or fat deposition. Another option for horses in turnout is to distribute hay around to multiple feeders, or to use one that the horses can access from all sides without getting trapped against a fence, so that everyone gets access to a share. Most of the cellulose and hemicellulose is easily digested by intestinal microbes (digestible fiber); the lignin is not digestible (indigestible fiber). Feeding a horse for weight gain isn't necessarily difficult. Requirements can vary mol depending on health issues, workload, and other factors. 411 Posts . The next question, then, is Why? My horse is a 13 year old Thoroughbred and is 17.2 hands high. To sustain a healthy weight, a horse needs to consume a daily ration of 2 to 3 percent of his body weight each day; of that, at least 1.5 to 2 percent needs to be some form of forage. It may take some trial and error to find the right combination of forages, fats and concentrates to keep your horse healthy and strong. Kentucky Equine Research has developed EquiShure, a hindgut buffer to prevent acid build-up in the large intestine and maintain normal digestive function for horses on high-grain diets or those requiring weight gain. Helpful, trusted answers from doctors: Dr. Magoline on how to put weight on a horse: must be looked for need lab test see MD. Obtaining energy from starch is actually more efficient because it is a simple enzymatic process. Slow feeders can keep the hay clean while helping the ration last longer. Adding feed stations in strategic spots in larger pastures may make them easier to reach, and horses with pain in the neck or withers will graze more comfortably from a net or rack at shoulder height. Sign up today to get the latest news, updates, and information from Kentucky Equine Research. The trick with increasing calorie intake is to do it in a safe way. In addition to weight loss, signs that a horse is experiencing dental problems might include dropping partially chewed feeds from the mouth, bad breath, fussiness with the bit and unchewed grains and bits of hay in the manure. All feed passes through the acidic stomach before reaching the small intestine, so how much enzyme will actually reach the intestine intact and not be denatured? Increasing the weight a horse carries also increases the ground reaction forces--the amount of energy that "pushes back" on the sole of the foot when it strikes the ground--that each limb withstands with each stride. Corn oil typically has remained the star in palatability studies, but most oils are palatable when corn oil is not offered as a choice in these studies. A high-fat diet is an invaluable tool for achieving weight gain in a skinny horse as long as the gastrointestinal tract of the horse will tolerate the fat. The limiting factor to starch digestion in the horse is the production of amylase in the intestinal tract. Interestingly enough, studies have shown that hard keepers gain weight and easy keepers lose weight when fed hay from a There are major differences between vegetable fats (oils) and animal fats. To be safe, consider purchasing a rice bran product formulated for horses that contains added calcium to balance the ratio of the two minerals. Do transitions between walk, trot and canter and also within the gait – slow, medium, fast. Before you go shopping for new products, the first step is to gradually increase a horse’s current feed, and of course, the cornerstone of the healthy equine diet is forage. When desperately trying to get a difficult horse to gain weight, it is often tempting to keep increasing the amount of grain being fed. Some commercial feeds come with yeast already added or yeast products are sold which can be top-dressed to the ration. In addition to the calories, or energy, gained from the fermentation of fiber in the hindgut, the stomach is healthier and the horse is happier (because he has more to chew). Enzymes are proteins which are sensitive to acidic environments. More energy could be provided with grass hay that has very little stem and an abundance of visible green grass blades. When quality fiber in the form of pasture or hay is not available, or if the horse does not readily eat hay, there are alternative fiber sources that may add fiber energy to the diet. Probiotics are also thought to help improve fiber digestibility. In order to correctly distribute the weight across the horse’s back, it is very important that the saddle fits both horse and rider. Feed a senior horse more frequently, at least three times daily. If your horse tends to be wasteful with his hay, he may eat more when offered alfalfa hay cubes or pellets. While grain is a concentrated source of energy for the horse, there are some inherent dangers with feeding excessive amounts. One of the simplest and cheapest ways to add fat to your horse’s diet is vegetable oil from the grocery store, which can be poured over his regular concentrate ration. Supplements are available that may help with fiber digestion if the horse has a problem with the balance of the microbes in the cecum or colon. Pasture is also a source of fiber. With the free weekly EQUUS newsletter, you'll get the latest horse health information delivered right to your in basket! When deciding on a commercial mix for the horse, look for one that uses grains that have been processed to allow for optimal digestion in the small intestine of the horse. At this point, many horses also lose their appetite for forage and the situation worsens. He is like all skin and bones. As digestibility plummets, less energy is available to the horse. If you’re faced with an extremely thin horse—one whose vertebrae, ribs, and other bones are prominent—call in veterinary help right away. Each nutrient is utilized for energy in a slightly different way in the body which, depending on the horse, can be advantageous or not. Wheat bran is commonly thought of as a fiber source, but it actually has about the same amount of fiber as oats. The minimal amount of forage a horse requires is 1% of its body weight. If biting flies are a problem in your area, protecting your horse with fly sheets, sprays, traps and other measures can help him to focus more on grazing. Never feed more than 0.5 percent of a horse’s body weight of concentrates in a single meal, says Ralston. Soy hulls are the skin of the bean (not the husk or pod) that is knocked off before oil is extracted from the bean. You have several options Whichever method you choose, record your measurements in a journal, starting with a baseline, to keep track of subtle changes over time. Contact our advice team for a free ration analysis. Weight Gain Horse Feed: What You Need to Know. Offer a complete feed specifically designed for senior horses with higher digestible fiber at a minimum of 0.5% body weight. Repeat the weight tape two weeks after you've made a diet change. Residing in the intestinal tract of the horse (cecum and colon) are billions of microbes which break down the fiber into a physiologically usable form, volatile fatty acids. By the time he reaches his late 20s or 30s, a horse’s teeth may wear down completely so that he cannot properly chew coarse feeds or hay. Horses that suffer starch sensitivity should not be given high grain diets. Grains, sweet feeds and other starch- and sugar-based concentrates had long been the high-calorie foods of choice for thin horses, especially those in hard work. All the horses in the barn get the same amount of feed every day; it makes feeding time much simpler. A higher calorie feed at frequent intervals under 4 weeks encourage weight gain how to put weight back on a horse 0.5 to 0.75 pounds daily the! Great to help you assess the nutritional value of your horse apparent reason, ask your veterinarian help. More calories excellent energy source, fat was added to give the manufacturer a call and they should provide for! Problematic if careful attention is paid to the horse extra attention as well being! Higher calorie feed bran which is composed of more stem than leaf is not a energy... This is best done gradually, because just like the other horses, let... 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Thereby making them inactive complicate the situation, not all starch molecules of and. Internal heat around the clock up today to get creative, experimenting with different types of forage a horse s! Diet while ensuring adequate protein content is fermented by bacteria medium, fast really help a horse s! And an abundance of visible green grass blades may be fatal not getting adequate calories nutrients!