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What to feed my skinny horse

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  • What to feed my skinny horse

    I am struggling putting weight on a skinny mare I bought 3 months ago. I'm not sure if I'm feeding enough or just not the right stuff. Right now she gets fed twice daily. In the morning she gets 2 pounds of Purina strategy, a pound beet pulp dry when weighed (soaked when fed), a pound of alfalfa, 1 cup of oil, a vitamin supplement, and a sprinkle of salt. In the afternoon she gets 2 pounds Purina strategy, 2 pounds alfalfa, 1 cup oil, and a sprinkle of salt. She is out on pasture 24-7, but my plan is to start bringing her in for 4-6 hours a day to give her a break from the sun/heat and to keep her from running all of it off with her buddies. This means she will be getting at least 4 flakes of hay a day as well.

    I had a friend suggest I put her on cool gut, and I gave her a syringe of ulcer guard this morning. I'll probably start her on a ulcer supplement soon.

  • #2
    Can you post a photo? Lots of times people think their horses are skinny when they are just undermuscled.

    What is your pasture like? In many places in late summer, the grass is dried up or eaten up. The basis of the diet should be all the forage she can eat. so if she isn't getting enough grass from the pasture, she needs access to hay in the pasture.

    Is your Purina feed fortified (I assume it is)? Are you feeding the recommended levels (at 4 lbs a day I assume you are). In that case you do not also need a vitamin/mineral supplement, especially if both have selenium, which is toxic in overdoses.

    When you say you are feeding 3 lbs of alfalfa, do you mean pellets, cubes, or hay?

    You say she will be getting 4 flakes of hay a day. is she getting hay now? Is that alfalfa or grass hay? is that in addition to the alfalfa pellets or cubes?

    If she is currently just on late summer pasture, with a mash bucket twice a day, probably she just needs extra good hay to keep her weight up.

    How are the other horses doing on the same pasture?

    Comment


    • #3
      Have you done fecals or wormed her lately?

      Alfalfa hay will usually help with putting weight on a hard keeper. What breed is she?
      "There is no fundamental difference between man and animals in their ability to feel pleasure and pain, happiness, and misery." - Charles Darwin

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      • #4
        4 pounds total of Strategy per day isn't really all that much calorie-wise- actually it's the bare minimum recommended amount. I would probably go for more digestible, higher calorie grain like Triple Crown Senior and bump up to 4 lbs twice a day, leaving the alfalfa but nixing the beet pulp (already in TCS), the oil and the vit/min supplement. If you want to add a fat, I'd go with flax or something like Amplify.
        "Traditions are basically just peer pressure from dead people"

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        • #5
          2 flakes a day of good quality alfalfa. Don't know your area but it's a good hay year here in the midwest. $8 a bale for great quality 3 rd cutting alfalfa.
          "Punch him in the wiener. Then leave." AffirmedHope

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          • #6
            My pasture is almost done; they are grazing but it's not enough for them to live on. So, if I didn't give hay my horses would be losing weight now. Where do you live? What does the pasture look like? - and you really need to go walk it, not just look from a fenceline. Sometimes it might look like there is more out there than there is.

            If you bring her in and she cleans up the hay, that's your answer. When there is grass available, my horses won't eat the hay (or might pick at a flake but not really eat it.)

            Obviously you can increase the feed you are providing - especially if you are feeding the minimum recommendation. But I'd start with checking what she is getting in forage first.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Cns_505 View Post
              I am struggling putting weight on a skinny mare I bought 3 months ago. I'm not sure if I'm feeding enough or just not the right stuff. Right now she gets fed twice daily. In the morning she gets 2 pounds of Purina strategy, a pound beet pulp dry when weighed (soaked when fed), a pound of alfalfa, 1 cup of oil, a vitamin supplement, and a sprinkle of salt. In the afternoon she gets 2 pounds Purina strategy, 2 pounds alfalfa, 1 cup oil, and a sprinkle of salt. She is out on pasture 24-7, but my plan is to start bringing her in for 4-6 hours a day to give her a break from the sun/heat and to keep her from running all of it off with her buddies. This means she will be getting at least 4 flakes of hay a day as well.

              I had a friend suggest I put her on cool gut, and I gave her a syringe of ulcer guard this morning. I'll probably start her on a ulcer supplement soon.
              Unless she's quite small, 4lb of Strategy is either under-feeding, or barely feeding enough, from a nutritional perspective.

              1lb dry weight beet pulp, then soaked, is a huge volume, and takes time away from eating things that can be eaten for a higher calorie gain. Add that to 2lb of the Strategy and 1lb alf, that's a large volume of food.

              I would drop the beet pulp, increase the Strategy to 6-8lb/day, and the oil is fine.

              And yes, a picture would help see if this is true weight, or just lack of muscle.

              I'm not a fan of Strategy at all - while some horses do well, others do poorly (as opposed to just not great), there doesn't seem to be any middle ground. Ultium would be a better choice if Purina is all you can get. But if you can get Triple Crown, the Sr would be my choice.
              ______________________________
              The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by CindyCRNA View Post
                2 flakes a day of good quality alfalfa. Don't know your area but it's a good hay year here in the midwest. $8 a bale for great quality 3 rd cutting alfalfa.
                Alfalfa bales come in different sizes in different parts of the country. I would kill for $8 a bale alfalfa but something tells me it’s not the 90-100 pound 3 wire bales of the southwest where a flake weighs 8 pounds or more. Different kinds and mixes of hay weight different even in the same size bales. Flakes too can be different sizes and weights, they aren’t exact measures.

                For OP, depending on how poor she is, it takes more then 90 days to reverse malnutrition. Resist the urge to pile on the concentrates and just be sure she gets 20-25 pounds of good quality forage. HAY. Daily, preferable in 3 feedings if free choice is not an option. Yes, you need to weigh the hay, not guesstimate. Get a cheap fisherman’s scale at any sports and many big box stores . After you weigh the hay a few times you’ll be able to judge how much she is getting daily by sight and feel. Most people are shocked when they first weigh the hay ration, they think it’s 15 pounds and it weighs out at 9. It’s important.

                When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by findeight View Post

                  Most people are shocked when they first weigh the hay ration, they think it’s 15 pounds and it weighs out at 9. It’s important.
                  Exactly.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Strategy did wonders for a TB broodmare I rescued many years ago. Depending on where you live and rainfall your pasture may not be very nutritious.

                    I fed my mare strategy, she was on good pasture daily and then dry lotted with all the alfalfa/ grass hay she could/ would eat. It took 6 months to transform her and add the 150+ pounds she needed. My vet didn't even recognize her

                    I also suggest a fecal and deworm accordingly and do any dental work needed, if not already done.

                    Up her strategy and add all the great quality hay she will eat in addition to the grass and you should slowly see improvement.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by findeight View Post

                      Alfalfa bales come in different sizes in different parts of the country. I would kill for $8 a bale alfalfa but something tells me it’s not the 90-100 pound 3 wire bales of the southwest where a flake weighs 8 pounds or more. Different kinds and mixes of hay weight different even in the same size bales. Flakes too can be different sizes and weights, they aren’t exact measures.

                      For OP, depending on how poor she is, it takes more then 90 days to reverse malnutrition. Resist the urge to pile on the concentrates and just be sure she gets 20-25 pounds of good quality forage. HAY. Daily, preferable in 3 feedings if free choice is not an option. Yes, you need to weigh the hay, not guesstimate. Get a cheap fisherman’s scale at any sports and many big box stores . After you weigh the hay a few times you’ll be able to judge how much she is getting daily by sight and feel. Most people are shocked when they first weigh the hay ration, they think it’s 15 pounds and it weighs out at 9. It’s important.
                      Oh no. It's more like a 40 pound bale but lovely and leafy. They are more my size. Those 80 pound bales are tough on me!
                      "Punch him in the wiener. Then leave." AffirmedHope

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I stand by envision by progressive nutrition all the way. My boy is 27 and has chronic kidney disease and he thrives on that supplement. I also feed nutrena senior with great results. I certainly would up the grain intake because 4lb/day is definitely a low amount calorie wise. With a senior feed you can safely feed 10+lbs/day, as senior can be used as a complete forage replacer for the older horse. (This could also be true of other feeds, but I am not knowledgeable enough to say)

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          My first recommendations are always the same. Buy the best quality hay you can get your hands on, and provide it free choice. Parasite control, including tapeworm coverage (even if currentfecal does not indicate, as egg shedding is not always present) and check teeth.

                          I would start feeding Strategy (or whatever feed product that is available/chosen) at the recommended rate. By my calculation, that is likely to be at least double (likely more) than what you are currently providing. Quick check: you should be feeding 1 to 1 1/2 bags each week. Base calculations on horse in moderate to heavy work, and the desired weight, not current weight. If possible I would feed smaller meals three times per day.

                          I agree with above posters who have indicated quality of pasture is often thought to be much better than it is, and that the actual weight and quality of hay fed is often far below the weight and quality the owner thought was being fed.

                          As weigh improves, I would reduce oil and evaluate the need for any additional products. They are very often not required. It is less expensive to feed well than provide supplements.

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