I think I see where Laurie is coming from. Your horses are consuming a lot, but it isn't the right combination of things. There are horses in my care that if they consumed the amount of forage my horse eats, they wold be obese. However, my horse also gets 7lbs of a high fat feed PLUS 2 cups of Cocosoya (I order mine from thehorse.com, I think). He is in hard work and is in excellent weight, but needs both all that forage and all that high fat concentrate to maintain. The other horses on your property may be fat and shiny because they just use their calories differently. Just like humans, every horse is different. We all have friends who can pack away the Ben and Jerry's and stay thin, while others can eat nothing but salads....
I would start with a different fat source like I mentioned before. And possibly more alfalfa pellets or switch to a big bucket of cubes to leave for them. Best case scenario is 2 or 3 meals plus a better fat source.
OP, I agree that your horses simply aren't getting enough calories. You need to work out some way to get them more. Senior feed would not be my choice in this case... especially for a once a day feeding. I think this stuff is so misunderstood. It's a good choice as a complete feed for a horse that cant manage hay any longer, but you have to feed an amount that actually does replace the hay... which is a large amount.
For a normal horse with teeth, that's out on grass or has decent access to quality hay, you are far better off on something more nutritionally dense.
I feed my senior horses alfalfa hay twice a day--about 15lbs each per feeding, and for most of the year 3 quarts of Purina Strategy each, plus a half pound of rice bran. They have grass for about a month in the spring, and for about 3 months in the winter, they get an extra feeding of 3 quarts of beet pulp pellets plus about 2 quarts of Strategy and a half pound of ricebran, soaked together overnight and split between the two of them.
We have extreme winter weather conditions. I blanket them both at least overnight once the snow starts to fly, and make sure they always have clean warm water. They are 21 and 28 and both are in perfect weight. One is a TBX who is a nervous nellie and will worry it all off given half the chance.
Poster #2, I'd be getting a full workup done to see if there's some underlying stuff going on. My 28 year old had a couple of very hard winters and was extremely difficult to keep weight on until we resolved what turned out to be pain issues he was having from ringbone. He's a fat and happy camper now...
Atr, that's something I hadn't thought of. My guy is also 28 and while he's always been a hard keeper, it's never been anything like this. He was eating LESS food (still with only one grain feeding a day) when he was in work.
He is free-fed from good-quality square bales rather than round so I don't think that's the issue, but I guess a hay analysis couldn't hurt.
Here's what I'm going to try next:
* Bribe one of the barn staff to do an extra morning feeding with a senior mix and rice bran
* Another full thyroid/blood workup
* Have the vet check for ringbone
* Pop rocks in case of ulcers
* Replace the cocosoya supplement from smarkpak with oil straight from Uckele
Hopefully, this will stop the weight loss and start to pack on the pounds.
I have the same problem with one of my retirees, and I'm in the same boat in that the barn will only feed one grain meal per day. I'm over an hour away so I can't get out to do it.
My guy is on free choice alfalfa and oat hay. In addition, he gets:
2lbs Renew Gold (very high-fat feed that my working horse only gets 1lb of)
1 scoop of rice bran
Cocosoya from smartpak
Focus-SR senior multi/weight gain
Thyro-L to correct thyroid imbalance
He lives with one old mare who's very arthritic and doesn't move well, and she's definitely not chasing him away from hay. He's eating happily every time I see him, but he just doesn't gain weight.
We've checked his teeth, blood and fecal and everything's normal. He's eating an amount that would cause my working horse to explode, yet he still looks to be about a 2-3 with prominent ribs, spine and hips.
I'm at my wits end! Any suggestions?
This horse? I would try lightening up the Thyro-L dose and see what happens.
Simkie, that's what I would have thought, too, but my vet just had me increase it. He said that in some horses, a low thyroid can present as lack of weight rather than excess. I've never heard of that before but went with his suggestion. It did seem to stop the weigh loss for a while and he put a little back on, but now he's losing again.
Clarksdale, MS--the golden buckle on the cotton belt
If you can afford it, there are now feed dispensers with timers so you don't have to be there to feed a second meal. There is also some research out there that says horses can become free feeders without necessarily foundering.
Both of these are worth considering if you simply cannot feed more than one grain meal a day.
Alfalfa comes in so many forms these days that it's an easy addition to any feeding program. I used to put out a fifty pound bag of cubes in an old plastic watering trough and let my two old ones free feed on that.
When I feed senior feed, I feed 15 pounds a day for one horse. It's actually formulated for feediing that amount, so it doesn't really make a good basic feed unless it's the only thing used except for free feed forage--which seniors often don't do well.
"I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay." Thread killer Extraordinaire
SBrentnall, I have a mare who was on Thyro-l for a few years to help with allergies, but slowly kept getting very thin despite a super high calorie diet - she is also EPSM. Weaned her off the Thyro-l and now she is much fatter and getting less feed. My vet usually prescribes Thyro-l to obese air ferns who are beginning to be laminitic to pull the weight off faster. Hope that helps...
And adding oil is a great way to add a lot more calories. Love the smell of CocaSoya, like movie theater buttered popcorn! But my horses did not like it, so I use Canola Oil.
personally i have had great luck feeding OTTBs with weight problems free choice good quality hay - whatever type they will eat. then beet pulp and rice bran - and i will make as much as they will eat in one feeding - so this could be two full scoops of dry beet pulp and a couple scoops of rice bran then add water and let soak. Beet pulp is great because they can east a lot of it and it is almost the perfect calorie dense food.
i would also add a ration balancer for whatever type of hay you are giving.
generally thin horses just are not getting enough food.
Honestly, I've never even owned a horse off the track, but no matter what breed (TB, Arab, QH) with the statistics that show that over 93% of race horses have ulcers, the VERY FIRST THING I would do with a horse coming off the track would be to turn him out on grass, and do a full treatment for ulcers before adding any concentrates (that could potentially irritate existing ulcers or make them worse depending on the feed type) or putting the horse back to work.
"If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."
If your current situation doesn't allow for you to get enough food into the horse to maintain his weight then you have to move him somewhere that will. My guy is 24 years old and I keep him in ideal weight even though it means I have to buy my own feed and alfalfa pellets and hay. You do what you have to do. I couldn't live with myself if I let him starve because I had him somewhere that didn't meet his needs.
I didn't mean my horse is boarded somewhere that would let him starve, but the OP's horse may be if they can not feed him enough to be a healthy weight. That is what I could not live with if I were the OP.
Last edited by Laurierace; Oct. 4, 2012 at 09:23 AM.
SBrentnall, depending on how many scoops you are giving I think you can do it within a week. Because it was helping with my mare's lungs, I was watching for signs of her cough returning as I was reducing the dosage (she turns out to be sensitive to soy, but T-l helped), but I know we had a boarder with a Friesian who was a non-sweater get prescribed 4 scoops, started loosing weight, next vet said it was a ludicrous amount which did not get him sweating, so we pulled him straight off with no negative effects. Hope that helps. As they get older it certainly gets more difficult.
Just wanted to give an update, and offer my thanks to Simkie and Candico. Despite the vet report that showed a low thyroid and the recommendation to continue the Thyro-L, I weaned him off it and now he's finally gaining weight!
I read that in some rare cases, the problem may be thyroid levels that vary between too high and too low, and I think it's possible that the blood work was done during "low" phases. I'll run more blood work in another month or so, but so far, he looks much healthier without the Thyro-L and he's gaining weight all the time.
Thanks to everyone who offered helpful suggestions.
He also gets 1 flake of Standlee compressed alfalfa at night in his stall, mixed with free choice 2nd cutting orchard grass. He probably eats 10ish lb. of hay in his stall at night.
He is a big grazer, so trying to get him to eat hay "free choice" outside is a PITA. He would rather nibble at little stubs of grass than eat nice hay. He is slowly transitioning onto more hay outside, he probably eats another 6-7 lb. out.
I agree, 1 feeding isn't enough, and more grain should be added.
My barn feeds Legends Omega Plus by Southern States in addition to grain to put and keep weight on the hard keepers. It's 25% fat, and all the horses seem to find it very palatable. Another product we've used that REALLY put weight on the horses was Equilix. It is a mineral supplement that comes in a large tub. My trainer put several out in the pasture and the horses loved them!!