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Skinny 2-year-old... I'm at a loss

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  • Skinny 2-year-old... I'm at a loss

    I sort of specialize in fattening up horses. I've been successful with the older ones that need (semi-)mush, or the high-strung OTT type ones that need volume and chew factor all day... or combos of the two. But I am STUMPED by my filly Lila and don't know where to go next.

    She will be two in 2 days. It was this winter that I noticed her weight dropping. She looks... weedy. Shorter and slighter than I would expect, given her parentage, with visible ribs and just barely enough covering everywhere else. Backbone doesn't exactly stick out, but I can feel it, and her back kind of slopes away from her backbone on either side. In certain lights or when she is in certain positions, she can look really awful. Her winter coat wasn't the greatest, but I find that my horses vary in the shininess/lushness of their winter coats even when they are otherwise healthy. Her spring coat, though not fully arrived, is shiny. She is perfectly sound, active and alert.

    Here is what I have and have not done -- what I'm hoping you can give me is either (a) the thing you'd try next on my list of things I haven't done or (b) the thing you'd try next that I haven't even thought of.

    - Regular worming as a baby and appropriate worming as a teenager... have not done a fecal

    - Appetite is great, all vitals normal. The only unhealthy thing this filly has ever had is runny eyes -- she has some allergies.

    - She gets great hay and plenty of it

    - She also gets one "grain" meal per day with beet pulp, Haystack special blend pellets, oats and Amplify... not a huge quantity, probably about 5 lbs. total

    - Now she has her own pen. She had been sharing with a small 4yo filly. AT NO TIME did I see the older filly stealing food but I can't rule out that the skinny one got the short end of the stick... hence the separate quarters.

    - Now (starting just this week -- we don't have winter pasture) she is on pasture during the day, in a pen with hay and her grain pan overnight.

    - Never have considered ulcers though I guess anything is possible. She is a Paint. Shows no other signs of ulcers besides the weight issue.

    I have had a couple of horses make a DRAMATIC turn when the Amplify was added -- that was the point at which I really started to get concerned, because she has now been on it over a month and I'm not seeing a turnaround. This is not a problem I usually have with my horses, not the young, home-raised ones anyway. So what do you think/what would you do?
    Shall I tell you what I find beautiful about you? You are at your very best when things are worst.
    Starman

  • #2
    I would try one diet change: add oil and get rid of grain.

    You may have already solved the problem by separating her. I have one mare I got a year ago who was significantly underweight. She had been in with other horses and the former owner said it was a problem. After months of free-fed hay, she finally gained weight. She is a super slow eater; picks through the hay (I say hay but I mean alfalfa), chews a few bites, then wanders out and stares at the scenery. She will still have hay hours after the others have finished theirs. She also prefers the stems and will not eat the leafy chaff which the other horses prefer. Initially, I supplemented her with oil until she got up to a manageable minimum weight and then I just fed alfalfa. She slowly, slowly gained up to an ideal weight. I know if I put her in with another horse she would lose again. She's a dreamer.
    "Random capitAlization really Makes my day." -- AndNirina

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    • #3
      The ingredient list for Amplify shows that it contains corn and molasses. Doesn't say the quantity, but if your filly has a problem with sugars/starches, that might be something you would want to omit along with the grains. But first, I think I would just keep feeding her the same way you have been for at least a month and see if the separation from the other horse is having good results, because if you also change her diet right away, you won't be able to isolate the beneficial treatment.
      "Random capitAlization really Makes my day." -- AndNirina

      Comment


      • #4
        I have a semi hard-keeper gelding. He has put on nice weight with the addition of oil (cocosoya) to his grain. He gets probably a total of 6 lbs senior feed,spread over three feedings/day.
        We don't get less brave; we get a bigger sense of self-preservation........

        Comment


        • #5
          A couple of thoughts here...

          Is she in a "growth spurt"? Some of those youngsters look awful during those spurts.

          I don't know tons about the nutritional needs of young, growing horses, so not sure if this would apply: an equine nutritionist once recommended that I try a younger hard keeper on a really good senior feed (like Triple Crown) because it is designed to be highly digestible and, thus, more efficient. As I said, I don't know if the ingredients are suitable for a youngster, but it's a thought that crossed my mind.

          Perhaps it would be better to feed her in 2 or 3 feedings to increase digestibility.

          Finally, is she cleaning up her hay at night? If so, maybe give her more. Give her more than she can eat. Also, and you're probably on top of all this, is your hay truly nutritious? By good hay, do you mean clean, aromatic, beautiful? If you haven't had it tested, maybe it would help to find out exactly the nutritional content to solve this riddle with this particular horse.

          Don't know if any of this helps, but maybe it will trigger a brainstorm. Horses can be such riddles, can't they? Best of luck, JoZ!
          "We need a pinned ears icon." -MysticOakRanch

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          • #6
            I think she needs more NUTRITION not more food, nothing she is eating is fortified with vit/mins so I would suggest a ration balancer or at least a vit/min supplement for her. It isn't always about the number of calories but the quality of the calories.
            http://community.webshots.com/user/jenn52318

            Comment


            • #7
              Ditto. Unless you have had the hay analyzed and know vitamin/mineral/protein content, I'd be concerned that you aren't meeting the needs of a growing horse with what you are feeding.

              I'd go with unlimited good quality hay, a growth formula quality grain or a ration balancer, and the Amplify if you want to feed it. I'd skip the hay pellets, beet pulp and oats in favor of the less bulk, denser nutrition stuff.

              Also, remember that a growing horse shouldn't be fleshy, but should look healthy. Fleshy is not good for the growing joints.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by seabreeze View Post
                I don't know tons about the nutritional needs of young, growing horses, so not sure if this would apply: an equine nutritionist once recommended that I try a younger hard keeper on a really good senior feed (like Triple Crown) because it is designed to be highly digestible and, thus, more efficient.
                My vet told me that the calcium/phosphorus balance in TC Senior is not appropriate for a 2 yo.
                Janet

                chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).

                Comment


                • #9
                  Have you checked her teeth? Shes at the age that shes popping off caps and those new permanent teeth can be really sharp.
                  \"In all manners of opinion, our adversaries are insane.\" Mark Twain

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I'd try adding oil and maybe switching to a slightly higher protein feed.
                    Horse Show Names Free name website with over 6200 names. Want to add? PM me!

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                    • #11
                      Do you deworm for tape worms 2 x year? Tapes don't show in fecals and are a common culprit.

                      chicamuxen

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        My youngster was perpetually skinny with tapeworms that DID show up in his fecal. He filled out right away after one dose of Equimax.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Janet View Post
                          My vet told me that the calcium/phosphorus balance in TC Senior is not appropriate for a 2 yo.
                          See, I told you I didn't know much about feeding growing horses!

                          I think others said it better than I did...get an accurate analysis of the nutritional content of her diet and compare it to her nutritional needs.
                          "We need a pinned ears icon." -MysticOakRanch

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I would ditch her "grain" ...I agree ...she needs more nutrition....I have a coming 2yr ...he gets a ration balancer, and an extruded fat supplement...I use Progressive Nutrition...Buckeye, Triple Crown, Tribute, Pennfields, are all top quality and have their own versions ...my boy gets Pro Advantage Grass Diet Balancer, and Envision Classic with Fibrebeet(beetpulp +alfalfa pellets) ....this type of diet is low in starch and sugar and provides all the essentials and will help develop her topline , muscles and overall body condition ...
                            Buckeye has Gro N win and Ultimate Finish .., Triple Crown Growth, Senior, or Complete also excellent quality choices

                            A good probiotic ...I like Fasttrack for digestion ...send out a fecal...I use Horseman's Lab...and use Equimaxx which gets tapes...have your dentist check her teeth

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              ...and add some amino's for sure.

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                A few answers and a question. Thanks for all the input so far! Didn't think of teeth at her age (have had caps removed at 2 of course but never have seen pain/eating discomfort).

                                1) Hay has been tested and really IS great. Of course that was years ago now and I know that every crop is different, but supplier is the same/fields and management are the same.
                                2) I left out some feed details -- she gets lysine and brewer's yeast in her "pan" but I did give up the vit/min supplement this winter for financial reasons, figuring the hay was probably fine by itself. May have been pennywise/pound foolish on that one.
                                3) Wormed for tapes in the fall but could do it again.
                                4) Question -- for those who say ditch the grain she's eating, what aspect is making you say that? Is it the unfortified part, i.e. if I add my former vit/min back in is it otherwise OK? Or is it the oats? I was very pleased with the ingredients in the special blend pellets, and beet pulp is my ol' standby.
                                Shall I tell you what I find beautiful about you? You are at your very best when things are worst.
                                Starman

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by JoZ View Post
                                  - Regular worming as a baby and appropriate worming as a teenager... have not done a fecal
                                  What exactly does "regular and appropriate" deworming mean? What has been used in the last 6 months? How did she look going into Winter?

                                  She gets great hay and plenty of it

                                  - She also gets one "grain" meal per day with beet pulp, Haystack special blend pellets, oats and Amplify... not a huge quantity, probably about 5 lbs. total
                                  She's basically only getting forage. Any aversion to a fortified feed for additional nutrition?

                                  Now she has her own pen. She had been sharing with a small 4yo filly. AT NO TIME did I see the older filly stealing food but I can't rule out that the skinny one got the short end of the stick... hence the separate quarters.

                                  - Now (starting just this week -- we don't have winter pasture) she is on pasture during the day, in a pen with hay and her grain pan overnight.
                                  Most likely the grass will start putting on weight, but *I* would still want additional nutrients going into a growing horse, unless you have your forage tested and show that it's really good

                                  - Never have considered ulcers though I guess anything is possible. She is a Paint. Shows no other signs of ulcers besides the weight issue.
                                  Not a likely problem, but not ruled out either.

                                  I have had a couple of horses make a DRAMATIC turn when the Amplify was added -- that was the point at which I really started to get concerned, because she has now been on it over a month and I'm not seeing a turnaround. This is not a problem I usually have with my horses, not the young, home-raised ones anyway. So what do you think/what would you do?
                                  Amplify is a fat supplement, and not necessarily what most horses need. The complete nutritional package here is what jumps out at me as being missing, and that's where i'd start.
                                  ______________________________
                                  The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Janet View Post
                                    My vet told me that the calcium/phosphorus balance in TC Senior is not appropriate for a 2 yo.
                                    Sure it is. It's very similar to that of Growth

                                    Growth:
                                    Calcium (min.) 0.75%
                                    Calcium (max.) 1.25%

                                    Phosphorus (min.)
                                    0.60%


                                    Sr:
                                    Calcium (min.) 0.90%
                                    Calcium (max.) 1.40%
                                    Phosphorus (min.) 0.60%
                                    The formatting is messy, but it's ca min/max, then phos.

                                    The Sr is 1.5-2.3:1, and the Growth is 1.25-2.08:1.

                                    2.3:1 is not remotely too high a ratio for a growing horse. If anything, the lower 1.25:1 possibility of the Growth is something to worry about a wee bit if you're going to worry
                                    ______________________________
                                    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by JoZ View Post
                                      A few answers and a question. Thanks for all the input so far! Didn't think of teeth at her age (have had caps removed at 2 of course but never have seen pain/eating discomfort).

                                      1) Hay has been tested and reallyIS great. Of course that was years ago now and I know that every crop is different, but supplier is the same/fields and management are the same.
                                      Doesn't matter - environmental conditions change, soil gets depleted over time of more than just the typical NPK that is usually added back.


                                      2) I left out some feed details -- she gets lysine and brewer's yeast in her "pan" but I did give up the vit/min supplement this winter for financial reasons, figuring the hay was probably fine by itself. May have been pennywise/pound foolish on that one.
                                      Given the ample hay and lack of good weight, this is more than just about a v/m supplement. She needs calories, pure and simple, and as per above, not all weight gain is just about more calories. I would most assuredly be using a fortified feed for this horse at this point

                                      3) Wormed for tapes in the fall but could do it again.
                                      Does "left coast" mean in Ca somewhere? Then with that and the fact she was not on pasture over the Winter, it is highly, highly unlikely she picked up enough tapes since the Fall to cause a problem.

                                      4) Question -- for those who say ditch the grain she's eating,
                                      But she's not eating grain, she eating a forage product, and not even fortified at that:
                                      PLAIN DRIED BEET PULP, SUN CURED TIMOTHY HAY, SUN CURED ALFALFA HAY,
                                      GROUND FLAXSEED MEAL, RICE BRAN, CANOLA OIL


                                      what aspect is making you say that? Is it the unfortified part, i.e. if I add my former vit/min back in is it otherwise OK? Or is it the oats? I was very pleased with the ingredients in the special blend pellets, and beet pulp is my ol' standby.
                                      It's just beet pulp and hay for the most part - just more forage. Hardly any different from just giving her another 5lb flake of hay.

                                      IMVHO she would greatly benefit from the additional calories you can feed in the same poundage (ie 5lb) AND would greatly benefit from some extra nutrition
                                      ______________________________
                                      The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        What kind of hay is it? Beautiful grass hay can have nearly no protein.

                                        I'd add in alfalfa, be that in pellet or hay form, and lots of it. And throw some rice bran or oil on top. I've had to fatten up a couple horses this winter and that's what did the trick for us.

                                        I'm pro-protein.
                                        “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey

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