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Typical amount of grain for TBs?

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  • Typical amount of grain for TBs?


    I am taking care of a 3 yo TB who is recovering from being malnourished and close to being a 4 on the body scoring scale.

    He is not being worked.

    His suggested diet was 5 lbs a day or nutrena safe choice for several days, then up to 7.5 lb for about a week, then up to 10 lbs a day from then on out.

    The barn owner is extremely concerned that this seems to be a huge amount of grain for a horse and that the bag advises only 4 lb for a horse of his size, so is worried he will colic the horse if we feed him 10 lbs of grain a day.

    However the barn is mostly stock horses who tend to be good keepers, so my initial thought is that it is was a suggested ration for a TB in recovery/growth mode who may not be a good keeper.

    Do TBs typically require more grain that comparable horses of thier same size and physical condition? Does 10 lbs a day seem like an excessive amount in this circumstance?

    (Did I mention what a neat horse he is? )
    Mr Friendly's Paddock

  • #2
    Malnourished horses should, according to everything I've read, receive lots of alfalfa at first and grain should be introduced VERY gradually. I would go very, very carefully with any grain with a truly malnourished horse. There is a phenomenon called "refeeding syndrome" that can be disastrous. What does the vet say?
    Click here before you buy.


    • Original Poster

      Originally posted by deltawave View Post
      Malnourished horses should, according to everything I've read, receive lots of alfalfa at first and grain should be introduced VERY gradually. I would go very, very carefully with any grain with a truly malnourished horse. There is a phenomenon called "refeeding syndrome" that can be disastrous. What does the vet say?
      They are past the danger of refeeding-the rescue lost two horses in the first few weeks due to this issue, sadly. They are wonderful folks, and did everything they could, but the horses just couldnt pull through. He is five months into recovery at this point in time, so is past that danger, and has been packing away the groceries via grain and pasture for awhile now. He just got home yesterday, so I havent had time to bring my vet out for a check up yet, but that is planned for later this week.
      Mr Friendly's Paddock


      • #4
        10 lbs doesn't sound like too much for a TB that needs a significant amount of weight. If they switched him to something more calorie dense he would pick up weight faster. That should be split into at least 2 meals a day. More would be better. The 4 lbs on the bag would be for a fairly easy keeper at maintenance, not a hard keeper trying to pick up pounds. If you read the rest of the label, a horse of his weight should probably be getting more like 8-12 lbs if in harder work.

        I have 2 TBs that are maintained at good weight right now on 8 lbs of high fat grain. They'd probably need 10 if it was Safe Choice, and more if they needed to gain weight. There was an TB gelding at my last barn that looked great on 12 lbs of the grain my 2 are on. They are all individuals, but by-and-large, TBs are not very energy efficient machines and yes, you need to feed them more. Sometimes a LOT more. They are a poor econo model

        If he's about a 4 now his feed needs should be leveling off. That isn't terribly skinny.

        Edited: I read the label, and a performance horse in intense exercise is recommended to receive 10-15 lbs a day. 15 lbs of grain a day would make me uncomfortable, especially because at that point you are really compromising their forage intake.
        As Peter, Paul, and Mary say, a dragon lives forever.


        • #5
          I don't feed either of my TBs grain. One is in work 6 days a week and receives grass hay and one flake alfalfa daily. He also gets rice bran(1 scoop) and timothy pellets(3 scoops). He is in good weight. The other receives the same except no alfalfa he is 21 and in very light work.


          • #6
            more good hay than grain.
            I don't think any of our horses, TB or WB ever got that much grain unless in heavy work! Most just got a handful to have something to look forward to and to hold the supplements.

            You have to play it by ear, if he needs the grain or can do well on hay/grass. but 10-12 pounds for a horse not being worked, that's a lot!


            • #7
              My TB that is working on putting weight back on (got him back from a lease 100+ lbs underweight ) is currently getting about 9lbs of grain, split into two feedings, plus free choice grass hay and a flake of alfalfa, so no, ten pounds doesn't sound like too much, although I would hesitate to give any more than that. Actually, the 9lbs my guy is on is about all I'm comfortable feeding quantity-wise; if you're finding that you're still needing weight gain at those levels, I would look for a higher-fat feed or substitute rice bran for some of the grain.


              • #8
                I HATE Safe Choice! Straight alfalfa is likely to be too rich for him as well, at least in the beginning although a 4 isn't even remotely thin enough to be worried about refeeding syndrome. You can barely see ribs on a 4. Grass hay with a little alfalfa is how I would go along with a ration balancer or a good senior feed.
                McDowell Racing Stables

                Home Away From Home


                • #9
                  My TB would. not. gain. weight. when she was on any sort of alfalfa. So, I bought the highest quality grass hay I could find and started feeding her as much as she can possibly eat of that stuff- so like 5 flakes a day. Then as far as grain goes, she is on 3 qts (dry) of beet pulp shreds, soaked, and 3 qts Ultium a day. Still looking a little thin, but a bout with Corona Virus that literally knocked her down flat for a few days (scary as h*ll) is responsible for that.

                  Point being, TBs can take a LOT of feed. In fact, I would say that they NEED a lot of feed.

                  Good luck with your horse, he sounds like he is going to be awesome!


                  • #10
                    Good quality hay should be the foundation of any horse's diet. Having had a bunch of TBs over the years. I seldom grained higher than 5 lb a day. And some were in very heavy work.
                    Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                    Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.


                    • Original Poster

                      Originally posted by Laurierace View Post
                      I HATE Safe Choice! Straight alfalfa is likely to be too rich for him as well, at least in the beginning although a 4 isn't even remotely thin enough to be worried about refeeding syndrome. You can barely see ribs on a 4. Grass hay with a little alfalfa is how I would go along with a ration balancer or a good senior feed.
                      Why do you hate safe choice? What advantage does the senior feed offer?

                      I wouldnt quite call him a four just yet-he is very ribby still with no tail head fat. ( His partner in crime, another 3 yo TB I am fostering, is closer to a four). They are both getting 2 flakes of coastal hay each twice a day.

                      I think a game plan for the first month would be to gve them 5 lbs a day for the first week, then shift to 7.5 lbs and after that add additional grass hay, if they dont maintain weight. Once they have settled in, we could considered shifting to an alternate feed, changes in supplements or aother additives. I am just wary of switching thier feed at this point in time, but in a month or two, it would be less concerning.

                      Thanks everyone for your feedback and suggestions!!

                      Originally posted by bluebuckets View Post
                      Good luck with your horse, he sounds like he is going to be awesome!
                      thanks! He is a sweetie and has been through a great deal, so I am glad to be able to take him in. He is a fun little fellow.
                      Mr Friendly's Paddock


                      • #12
                        Safe Choice is very high sugar, nothing safe about it. A good low sugar senior feed is going to be easily digested so they utilize what they are eating better.
                        McDowell Racing Stables

                        Home Away From Home


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by bluebuckets View Post
                          Point being, TBs can take a LOT of feed. In fact, I would say that they NEED a lot of feed.
                          Not necessarily - my current OTTB is on a diet right now - she does not need grain as she is an air-fern. I had another TB that I put down last fall at the age of 31 - he was a very easy keeper too - he did get grain (BS Performance LS - higher fat than their Senior feed) just because his teeth weren't the greatest at that point in his life. Easy-keeping TB's do exist but people unfortunately think that all TB's are hard keepers which simply isn't true. All horses should have high-quality free-choice hay (unless there is some medical condition that access to free-choice hay could be a problem) to start and then based on how they are doing, grain can be added if they still need more weight.

                          To the OP - Safe Choice feed is NOT a feed I would use! For reason exactly as Laurierace said. People assume that since the name has "Safe" in it that it's a good choice but it is not.
                          "When a horse greets you with a nicker & regards you with a large & liquid eye, the question of where you want to be & what you want to do has been answered." CANTER New England


                          • #14
                            It is expensive, I know, but you need to start with unlimited hay first. Can you give them a few flakes of Tim/alfalfa mix on top of the coastal, or switch entirely? Otherwise I would reccomend hay cubes and/or beet pulp as well. I would not think 4 flakes a day would be enough. While flakes vary in size, mine do that in one sitting. I always throw enough hay so there is a little left when I feed again.

                            Safe Choice, like someone else said, is very high NSC. I would upgrade your grain to a senior feed (more digestible) that is higher in fat such as Triple Crown Senior. What feeds are available by you?

                            TBs all vary in how much they need. I had one who got fat on our summer grass and hay in winter and hardly needed feed, I had another that needed 12lb of grain a day just to maintain weight. If he dropped I absolutely needed to add rice bran or a fat supp on top. He was not a good hay eater, but he probably ate as much as you are giving your horses a day. Unfortunately I just couldn't get him to eat more than that, he wasn't into it.


                            • #15
                              My 5yo is currently eating 6lbs per day of Blue Seal Dynasty XT Pro (their 14/10 senior feed equivalent) and 1lb per day of Nutrena Empower Boost (their rice bran nugget supplement that is 22% fat).

                              So it's not unheard of, but mine only needs to gain about 75 more pounds and then I will be cutting back the dynasty to reduce the volume.
                              Originally posted by PeanutButterPony
                              you can shackle your pony to a lawn chair at the show...so long as its in a conservative color.


                              • #16
                                My TB, who could use to put on another 50 lbs., is getting 8 lbs (in two feedings) of Seminole Wellness Show and Sport. Personally I prefer to feed more feed, to a point, rather than feeding a bare minimum of concentrate plus rice bran or other fat supplements.

                                Starch-wise, Safe Choice isn't that horrible at 22% NSC. I wouldn't use it to put weight on a horse, though.
                                "Why would anybody come here if they had a pony? Who leaves a country packed with ponies to come to a non-pony country? It doesn't make sense!"


                                • #17
                                  My TB is getting 3 lbs Poulins Fibre Max split into two meals, at dinner he also gets 1/2 qt beet pulp and a qt of alfalfa cubes as well as hay. He gets maybe 15-18 lbs of hay daily, he could have more, he just won't eat it. He also gets 1/2 cup canola oil daily. His weight is great, he maintains with this feed plan, I drop the grain down to about 2 lbs in the winter when he works less. If he starts to work much harder I may up him another 1/2 lb or so over the summer. He has in essence no grass in his pasture so that isn't a factor and his work load is not too intense.


                                  • #18
                                    I would have no problem feeding 10lbs of grain per day if that is what it takes to bring the horse to a good weight. I would also be feeding free choice, good quality, hay, and probably be supplementing with some beet pulp and Dengie as well.


                                    • #19
                                      10 lb. isn't really that much for a TB. That being said, Safechoice isn't exactly a high quality grain and if you can switch to something like Triple Crown Senior or Pennfield Fibergized, you will probably get better results.

                                      My retired OTTB is on 5 lb. TC senior and 1.5 lb. alfalfa pellets a day, plus free choice 2nd cutting orchard grass hay. He is fat and shiny on this, but he is also completely retired. TBs naturally tend to be hard keepers, so I would not have a problem with feeding a lot of grain to one was long as it was a high quality grain and they were on free choice hay. I'd probably try to feed in 3 feedings though, even though you can feed 5 lb. per feeding.

                                      There are also fat supplements (Cocosoya, corn oil, Empower Boost, rice bran, etc) you can use that have concentrated calories/fat...good for putting on weight.

                                      Also, make sure teeth and worming are UTD, as well as checking for ulcers.
                                      come what may

                                      Rest in peace great mare, 1987-2013


                                      • #20
                                        They need more hay, and if you can, mix it up. I dont agree with feeding that much grain, anyone ever think of the excess of vitamins/minerals? And some you should t overdo, or aren't peed out like vit c. Stick with what the bag says, and the. Add in something like rice bran, best pulp, wheat bran, etc.

                                        For reference, I have a 22 year old, active show horse ottb, true hard keeper.

                                        1 flake alfalfa and 1 flake grass AM&PM
                                        Free choice grass out of a slow feeder
                                        4#beet pulp & 2# hay pellets AM, in the PM same, but w/ supplements
                                        2#rice bran w/ his Kombat Boots PM

                                        He gets so much mash because he's old and he's starting to prefer the mash with his old teeth. But BP and hay pellets don't add any over excess of anything.