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Help with weight gain please

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  • Help with weight gain please

    Background info:
    17 year old ottb mare. Was in good weight but in mid to late January she lost a significant amount of weight in a two week period due to an injury (she didn't want to eat, became depressed). She bounced back to her normal self after those two weeks. However her weight has not bounced back. She is the type that is easy to maintain once she is in good weight but is very difficult to gain weight.

    I have tried a few different things and was hoping for some advice or suggestions. She is still a bit ribby, although she has gained some weight, I can feel it over the ribs, but they are still visible. Also she is back in full work so that may be contributing to the slowness of the process. I honestly expected more weight gain by now.

    Past feed program:
    2 flakes grass AM and PM (4 total)
    4 lbs bar ale dry equine senior/beet pulp pellet mix (soaked). Grain fed 5 times a week. I like to do it myself instead of the barn staff.
    I switched to the current program in the end of March because I hadn't seen much weight gain from this one.

    Current feed program:
    3 flakes grass AM and PM (6 total)
    4 lbs bar ale dry equine senior. 2 scoops Gleam and Gain supreme 60. Whole grain mix is sprinkled with water to make supplements stick to the grain. Grain fed 5 times a weeks as above.
    She hasn't been on this program for too long but she is now getting more hay and the higher recommended dose of the weight gain supplement and I'm still seeing little improvement. Can I add some rice bran pellets to this, or is that too much. Do you have other suggestions or thoughts. Or is this a slower process than I think it is and she is progressing normally.

    She is UTD on vaccinations, worming and just had her teeth done about a month ago.

    I am attaching a photo which was taked right before she lost weight, I will take a current pic of her when I go to the barn on Thursday.

    1-3-13


    New pics 5-15

  • #2
    What a lovely looking mare!

    I don't have anything to add, but I'll be watching this thread with interest as I too am trying to put some weight back on my horse.

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      Originally posted by RedHorses View Post
      What a lovely looking mare!

      I don't have anything to add, but I'll be watching this thread with interest as I too am trying to put some weight back on my horse.
      Thank you.

      Comment


      • #4
        Have you weighed the flakes to find out how much hays she's getting relative to her body weight?

        Grain 5 times a week? What about the other two days? Is it one meal per day or two? I'd get her feed schedule to be consistent every day. If the grain is in one meal, split into two or three. Their digestive tract was designed for ongoing eating, not concentrated meals, so the more her feed is spread throughout the day, the easier it will be for her to digest. You can add extra calories with wheat germ oil, which is better for them than corn oil. You could also look at adding some soaked hay cubes.

        Not sure what winter's are like near you, but you may also want to plan to give her an extra flake on unusually cold nights so when she's burning extra calories staying warm, she has a bit of extra fuel.

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          Originally posted by GaMare View Post
          Have you weighed the flakes to find out how much hays she's getting relative to her body weight?

          Grain 5 times a week? What about the other two days? Is it one meal per day or two? I'd get her feed schedule to be consistent every day. If the grain is in one meal, split into two or three. Their digestive tract was designed for ongoing eating, not concentrated meals, so the more her feed is spread throughout the day, the easier it will be for her to digest. You can add extra calories with wheat germ oil, which is better for them than corn oil. You could also look at adding some soaked hay cubes.

          Not sure what winter's are like near you, but you may also want to plan to give her an extra flake on unusually cold nights so when she's burning extra calories staying warm, she has a bit of extra fuel.
          I have not weighed the hay, I will do that. I like to give the grain myself so I know she is getting the correct amount and eating all the supplements. I live an hour away from the barn and I only go out 5 days a weeks. That is something that isn't going to change. I'm in California winter here is over for the most part.

          Comment


          • #6
            You don't trust anyone else at the barn to feed her for you at consistent times everyday? I couldn't imagine keeping my 15y/o OTTB nice and round feeding only 5 times a week unless he was on some pretty friggin awesome pasture 24/7.
            Boyle Heights Kid 1998 16.1h OTTB Dark Bay Gelding
            Tinner's Way x Sculpture by Hail to Reason
            "Once you go off track, you never go back!"

            Comment


            • #7
              Unless you know the weight of hay, it's impossible to say.

              If they are 5# flakes, she's getting 30# of hay right now which is a good amount for a TB, but if she needs to gain weight it might still not be enough. If they are 3# flakes, she's only getting 18 lbs of hay which is no where near enough for a full sized TB (in my opinion), especially one that needs to put on weight.

              Does she clean up all her hay?

              I have an 18 year old TB who can easily eat 30# of hay a day and not gain any weight, and she's retired. Many TBs aren't *easy* keepers, although she's not hard to keep if she has enough hay or pasture.

              So, without any of the other details, I'd say if she's cleaning up all her hay and is still thin, she needs more hay; or if she goes any length of time without hay in front of her - more hay. Then I'd try go feed her 2x day, 7 days a week -- I have never heard of that senior feed, so I don't know if 4# is enough. If she were eating TC Senior, for example, they would have you start at 6#/day, split into two feedings and increase from there, based on condition.

              Personally, I think most weight gain supplements are a waste unless you know that you've maxed out the hay they will eat.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by ShadyLady_DQ View Post
                I have not weighed the hay, I will do that. I like to give the grain myself so I know she is getting the correct amount and eating all the supplements. I live an hour away from the barn and I only go out 5 days a weeks. That is something that isn't going to change. I'm in California winter here is over for the most part.
                Wait. She is only getting one meal per day and only getting that one day 5 days per week? You are lucky she isn't skin and bones! Do you skip eating 2 days per week as well? Some super easy keepers can go without anything but hay or grass but yours obviously can not.
                McDowell Racing Stables

                Home Away From Home

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Let me clarify since it is confusing. She is fed twice daily by barn staff, they feel her hay, she gets 3 flakes in the am and 3 flakes in the pm. I feed her grain 5 days a week when I'm there. I chose to do it this way because of a few reasons. I want to know she is eating it and not throwing all on the ground. I also bring her inside to eat because she lives out 24/7 and I don't want her eating off the ground. She eats it on the rubber mats in the cross ties, there is always some spillage and this way she eats every bit. There are no trust issues with the BO/staff but since I want her to eat inside it would be very time consuming for them to do, and the staff is already very busy.

                  Someone else mentioned weighing her hay, I will definitely do that and report back. I cannot get to the barn until Wednesday this week due to finals, I usually go today. FYI she always cleans up all her food.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    What about bagging her grain and supplements into large ziploc bags that the barn can feed on the two days you aren't there? I'd also see about them feeding a pre-bagged amount of grain once a day so that she is getting fed 2x a day. Good luck she is very pretty!

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      I have had so many different responses to this. Thank you everyone who responded. I will plan to weigh her hay and max out the amount based on her weight if she is not getting enough. This is the first thing I am going to evaluate and try. Then I will move on the other options.

                      Some have suggested oils and/or splitting up the amount of grain. At this point, oils are definitely something I would consider. Unfortunately, feeding multiple feeding of grain per day is impossible for me and the barn. I do not have the luxury of quick access to the barn as it is an hour away from where I live and the barn only feeds twice a day. However, I may talk to the BO about feeding additional grain with her breakfast and I could still feed the grain and supplements when I come out. That may be one way to handle this situation.

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        Originally posted by stargzng386 View Post
                        What about bagging her grain and supplements into large ziploc bags that the barn can feed on the two days you aren't there? I'd also see about them feeding a pre-bagged amount of grain once a day so that she is getting fed 2x a day. Good luck she is very pretty!
                        Thank you for the suggestion. I have considered this but she lives in a dry (dusty) paddock and I like her grain to be wetted so the supplements stick and she doesn't just eat the grain and not the supplements. I don't want her to be eating wet grain which has been spilled on the ground and therefore gross and dirty.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by ShadyLady_DQ View Post
                          I have had so many different responses to this. Thank you everyone who responded. I will plan to weigh her hay and max out the amount based on her weight if she is not getting enough. This is the first thing I am going to evaluate and try. Then I will move on the other options.
                          Don't forget that if you want her to gain weight you'll need to go over the recommended amount of hay. You very often see 1-2% of bodyweight in hay recommended (e.g. 10-20lbs for 1000 lb horse), but that is just to maintain that weight (and in my opinion 1% is too little). And of course breed matters; my APHA mare would be fine on 15lbs of hay but my TB would be emaciated.

                          For an underweight TB in full work - I'd want at least 30lbs of hay in front of her during the day if she'll eat it. (I think my TB mare could eat 50lbs of hay in the winter....not exaggerating).

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            Originally posted by S1969 View Post
                            Don't forget that if you want her to gain weight you'll need to go over the recommended amount of hay. You very often see 1-2% of bodyweight in hay recommended (e.g. 10-20lbs for 1000 lb horse), but that is just to maintain that weight (and in my opinion 1% is too little). And of course breed matters; my APHA mare would be fine on 15lbs of hay but my TB would be emaciated.

                            For an underweight TB in full work - I'd want at least 30lbs of hay in front of her during the day if she'll eat it. (I think my TB mare could eat 50lbs of hay in the winter....not exaggerating).
                            Thank you for the information. I *think* based on this thread that she probably is only getting a maintenance weight of hay and could eat more. I am going to weigh it and see and if its ~30 lbs I will ask the BO to add more hay to her am/pm feeding.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I have a horse that sounds very similar to yours. This is what I feed him and he does really well with it and does not get high at all.

                              2 flakes Bermuda - AM
                              2 flakes Alfalfa - PM
                              2 lbs beet pulp soaked
                              1 lbs Ultimun
                              Rice bran
                              Smart Gut by Smart Pak

                              I do not weigh my hay and anytime I take him off any of this, especially the Smart Gut and beet pulp, I see a loss in weight. Good luck!

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                Originally posted by OllieK View Post
                                I have a horse that sounds very similar to yours. This is what I feed him and he does really well with it and does not get high at all.

                                2 flakes Bermuda - AM
                                2 flakes Alfalfa - PM
                                2 lbs beet pulp soaked
                                1 lbs Ultimun
                                Rice bran
                                Smart Gut by Smart Pak

                                I do not weigh my hay and anytime I take him off any of this, especially the Smart Gut and beet pulp, I see a loss in weight. Good luck!
                                Thanks for the reply. I tried beet pulp and I really didn't notice that much weight gain from it. There was some...but not as much as I had expected.

                                I wonder if, I just haven't given this enough time. It is amazing how fast the weight comes off and how slow it is to put is back on.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Oh, to only be able to utter those words.

                                  "Help with weight gain please".

                                  Yes, definitely weigh the hay. You may be surprised. Have you tried feeding beet pulp? How about adding some alfalfa pellets?

                                  I fed my little old lady horse BP and alfalfa pellets, and of course hay, over the winter and she looks great coming out of winter. She is 20 something. Appendix.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Have you tried adding soaked Alfalfa Cubes? I've had good luck getting weight on hard keepers using these (up to 10 lbs a day) along with free choice hay. I'd also try adding a proboitic--I use Fastrack. The rice bran is also a great idea. I'm not familiar with the grain you are using but make sure it is AT LEAST 10% fat. Not sure what you have access to but I love Pennfield's Fibregized Omega. Good luck with her!
                                    Originally posted by EquineImagined
                                    My subconscious is a wretched insufferable beotch.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      At 17 years of age, she may be starting to be less thrifty. My older horses start getting fed more alfalfa as they age since they refuse to eat some of the grass hay the younger horses eat. I also have access to green pastures that are re-seeded and fertilized with compost annually...it makes a huge difference to the older picky horses. I also have found that the older my horses get, the more comforts they demand....such as an industrial strength cooling fan on their stalls and turnout that minimizes bugs.
                                      Your mare , is she moving about and burning calories to get away from bugs and/or other horses that may be bullying her?
                                      Since she is living outside, is it possible that she is not actually consuming the hay she is given? Does she have to fend off other horses for her hay meals?

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        I've had several hard keepers, and even though people like to throw complicated formulas of supplements and grains at them, what has always worked for me is lots and lots of hay, including some alfalfa, and alfalfa pellets.

                                        My harder keeper now (who looks awesome) gets:
                                        Free choice 80/20 Orchard/Alfalfa Hay
                                        2 scoops (1 am/1 pm) Alfalfa/Bermuda pellets
                                        Total of 1 scoop TC Complete spread throughout 2 feedings, just to deliver supplements
                                        Smooth Run Pro Calming supplement

                                        The biggest thing that makes a difference is lots of good hay!

                                        Comment

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