I've got a 29 year old QH fairly underweight going into winter. He's not a super eater, actually seems to be satisfied very easily, while the others are still munching away then looking for more.
He will not eat any more than 1/2 scoop beet pulp, 1 scoop TC senior, 1/4 scoop rice bran, and a cup of oil twice daily.... and some days this seems to be too much. BUT, when I back him down, one feeding of this per day, he'll lose weight. Why can he eat this once, but not twice???? He never gets excited about hay either. Some days he's good but others he will eat until 'full' then leave a good amount behind, and maybe pick at the hay. He's a hay snob, won't eat plain grass hay.
He needs to gain, but it's not going to work if I can't get enough in him. I'm considering putting him on the same amount of TC Complete, since it might get calories/fat with less volume.
How far apart are his feedings ? If u fed at 6am lunch at 12 then dinner at 5 . Maybe cut the beetpulp out at dinner ? That way he could pick all night long if he gets overwhelmed at dinner. One of my guys is really picky sometimes beetpulp can turn and smell . Keep the Senior . Is he getting anything to help him break down his food ? So he's getting the nutrients he needs ? I love Triple Crown they are very helpful . I like the Complete I use it Simon he is prone to ulcers . Love the Senior I use that on my old man .
I would also suggest the alfalfa cubes or some type of chopped hay- possible alfalfa or timothy. Have you tried feeding him a few times a day? If you can find anything he likes you can always top dress it with something like syrup or molasses. If he will eat the Complete over the Senior I would switch to that. But I would watch out for any ulcers he might have now or develop, but TC is good about having low NSC values.
I would also drop the oil...try feeding smaller amounts more often if possible, and trying a supplement or medication for ulcers may help a lot ...gastro or uclerguard are top choices for treating...there's also a new product called GastroMax3 which is a combo of omeprazole(the ingredient in gastroguard),l-glutamine,and an antacid....half the price as gg....also ranitadine(Zantac) works well too and much cheaper
Smart gut pellets, uckeles GUT,Finishlines U7 gastric aid, and Corta Flx u gard pellets are top ulcer supplements
He might not like TC Senior? You can try the Growth,or another formula similar ..
You can also try Fiber Beet...a beet pulp/alfalfa mix that soaks in just 15mins,speedy beet , or their spooky mash....they are all extremely palatable , and excellent choices for adding extra calories/fiber
Also...the chopped hay/forage in bags are also very tasty even to the pickiest of hay snobs...TC makes alfalfa forage, and Lucerne Farms also makes a dengie hay called Hi Fiber,gold, and Alfa Supreme...
Alfalfa pellets are good but recommend wetting to avoid chocking, as well as alfalfa cubes-should be soaked...not all horses like them...trialnand error
Adding aloe Vera juice mixed in the feed is very cheap and great for ulcers/digestion ...a gallon is $7.00/gallon at walmart
I have lots of experience with getting underweight horses back in condition. I have worked with both rescues and with OTTB, as well as LOTS of broodmares which can be notoriously hard to keep weight on when they are lactating. My latest project is a 20 year old German Warmblood with shivers and a history of ulcers that came here in October extremely underweight. He reportedly needed all his food soaked, four meals a day, wouldn't eat more than a flake or two of hay, wouldn't drink water and colicked regularly. In just shy of 2-1/2 months he has gained almost 150 pounds, eats two concentrate meals a day (grain in one bucket, soaked alfalfa pellets in another), drinks 4-5 gallons of water in his stall at night and more outside in turnout every day. He cleans up 1/2 of a 45 pound bale of second cutting timothy hay at night and free choice outside during the day. He colicked mildly once about a week after getting here, not once since. (the vet was the one who told me of his colic history, his owners failed to mention that little detail ). They do care about him though and have been extremely open to suggestions. They are totally amazed and happy now, talking about bringing their second horse here when he retires sometime in the next couple of years. My secret? KISS. (keep it simple stupid) Basically I threw all of what I was told out the window and did what I knew he needed. I did take time to acclimate him to the changes, especially with his history of colic, but I have him eating like a horse again and it shows. He's feeling wonderful and looks great.
If you have access to Blue Seal feeds, there is one called Sentinal LS that I LOVE for hardkeepers. It's high fat (12%) High Fiber (20%) with a moderate protein level at 12%. It's an extruded feed that is soy and beet pulp based so can be used as a complete feed if needed. I use it on both older hardkeepers and racehorses that I get in for R&R. You can soak it if you want, but IME, it's not necessary, which is good if you have a picky eater in the north. It won't freeze before they finish it.
If you can't switch to Blue Seal products, TC Complete is good. The thing I've found with TC textured feeds is that they are a PITA in the winter because they will freeze solid. Alfalfa pellets are great both to add fiber if a horse doesn't like to eat a lot of hay, and as a buffer against ulcers due to their high calcium content. The pellets should be soaked, otherwise it's like giving your horse a bucket full of little rocks. Hot water makes quick work of the soaking process and most horses seem to like them better warm anyways. I'm not quite sure why a couple others are suggesting dropping the oil. Oil of any kind has over 1900 calories per cup so is a great way to add calories if they will eat it, which most will. Yeah, it can be messy, but IMO, it's worth it to get the extra calories in them. You don't need to spend a ton. Corn oil, soy oil, olive oil, rice bran oil, coca-soya oil, ALL have the same calorie count so whatever they will eat that's cheapest is your best bet.
Aside from the diet though, I do have some other questions for you. Have his teeth been checked lately? Bad teeth will definitely discourage a horse from eating, especially hay. What of his worming schedule? Have you either wormed him or had a recent fecal done? Have you tried a probiotic? A probiotic paste can give a sluggish digestive system a jump start. You can feed them as a daily supplement, but I've had better luck with the pastes. Are you able to blanket your horse? If he is underweight, he will have a more difficult time staying warm and will use up a lot of energy that could otherwise go towards weight gain trying to do so. Do make sure if he is turned out with others, that you use at least a 1200D turnout or his pasture mates might make short work of it.
Thanks for the ideas everyone. He's toasty warm with blankets, so at least we've got that taken care of. Things have taken a turn, overnight he did not eat his grain, beet pulp, or hay. He's had one flake of alfalfa in 24 hours and a few nibbles of grain. I'm not sure how much water, since he could have had more turned out, but his bucket was still 1/2 full in the stall. I tried to get him to eat this am, but he just wanted to get outside. I tried hay outside, he nibbled and that's it. He's a boarder, and luckily the owner came by tonight as I was trying to get him to eat his pm feeding with no luck. She's calling the vet in the am.
I tried to get him to eat alfalfa/timothy cubes soaked, not interested. He would only eat a treat or two, then wouldn't even take those. I'm worried about this guy. I'm not sure I'll sleep well tonight, I can't even imagine what his mommy must be feeling.
If he is outside and he's not eating, you should bring him in. You will have no way of keeping track of his manure output if he's wandering around outdoors, nor if he's drinking. Even if he is unhappy in the stall, he should be in so that you can monitor him. It sounds scarily as though he might be starting to colic. You should take away ALL feed until the vet can get there and I would make sure that the owner calls sooner rather than later. If it's an impaction, the last thing you want is him packing more food in there. If you have some banamine, I would call both the vet and his owner for an ok to give him a full dose. I keep banamine on hand all the time here. It won't hurt and it can be a lifesaver, but you, as a BO, should get a vets (or at least the owner's) ok to give it to him just for your own protection.
Make sure when you have his teeth checked, that you get someone who actually looks at ALL the teeth. A horse this age can have significant pathology and can certainly be less willing to eat due to pain. A full dental exam means a sedative, a good speculum, and the arm ALL the way inside the mouth, and preferably some head lamp action. NOT the sneak feel of the outside of the upper teeth that a lot of people do. You don't get a full idea of what's going on that way.
Also, I don't know where you are located, but where I live ice in water buckets is a big reason horses colic. If you are in a cold place, make sure he is getting slightly warmed water if possible to increase his intake.
If he is still not right, I wouldn't wait till morning to call the vet. If he has a mild impaction, it could be set right with an oiling and a few gallons of water tonight, whereas if you wait till tomorrow, you could be in for surgery which at 29 he may not be a good candidate for.
Good luck, I hope he feels better!
Last edited by kayteedee; Jan. 2, 2012 at 08:56 PM.
Reason: forgot something
Make sure when you have his teeth checked, that you get someone who actually looks at ALL the teeth.
Good point. I can tell you about an old TB gelding at a farm that I used to manage. His owner religiously had his teeth done by a farrier/"dentist" for years, every three months. He was having a lot of difficulty chewing his hay, so I suggested that his owner have a vet who specialized in dentistry and who I knew was GOOD, take a look at him. When the real dentist checked, he found hooks in the back on both sides that were 1 1/2 INCHES long!! Poor guy. It took over an hour and lots of smoke from the power tools to get him fixed up, but what a difference it made!
I totally hear you guys. I purchased a very well cared for horse a few years back who had retained a sliver of some baby molar (can't remember which). It had gone unnoticed until my vet did the thorough mouth exam and dental. Thank goodness I'm 10 minutes from them, and they are extremely attentive to details like that.
Owner isn't as freaked out as I am since apparently he's never been a good eater. Mine all polish the feed tub, the floor, the walls, nothing left behind. If it were one of my guys he'd be at the vet by now... but since I'm not the one paying the bills I need to respect her wishes. She does know the horse best, hopefully he'll be ok though.
FYI, tried keeping him in but he actually eats less when he's inside b/c all he can think about is getting out. He'd been pasture boarded for years before coming here. I only have 3, I can do a visual from my living room, so it's pretty easy to keep tabs on them but I do wish I could be sure exactly what he's consuming and producing. At least I know he has the ability to do whatever makes him happy, I keep the stalls open for them and have piles of hay in and out.