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Hard Keeper....what to feed??????

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  • Hard Keeper....what to feed??????

    I have an OTTB that I am trying to get another 50 lbs on. I've had him for a little over a year and have put quite a bit of weight on him....I just can't seem to get the last bit that he needs to really look good.

    I've been feeding Purina's Horsemen's Edge sweet feed. 4 quarts per feeding, twice a day feeding. It has 10% protein and 10% fat. I recently switched (3 - 4 weeks ago) to Tripple Crown Senior. He is not a senior but the feed store said that this grain would help him because it is easy to digest and has beat pulp in it for his weight. Not sure how long it should take to see a difference, but I'm not seeing one at all.

    He also gets a timothy hay mix....3-4 flakes twice a day.

    Any suggestions????????
    Life is what happens when you're making other plans. RiverDance

  • #2
    Switching off the HE should get you going places here in short oder.

    How MUCH hay does he get? "Flakes" means nothing - could be 3lb flakes, could be 5lb flakes. Even at 5lb, which would be heavy for a Timothy flake, that's only 20lb of hay. If he's ever without hay, give more. He should have hay free choice.

    How's his deworming? How old is he and how long off the track? if you haven't done a Power Pack on him, get that done. If you haven't treated for tapeworms at least twice in the last year, do that.

    If he's under 5, the lack of "weight" gain may exist until he's truly done growing. My OTTB mare didn't truly get into good weight until she was about 7. Yes, her ribs were covered, but she was obviously just still immature in areas.
    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


    • #3
      First make sure his teeth are in good shape...he may need to get floated,then deworm him on a consistent basis...he may even benefit from a panacur powerpack

      TC Senior is a great feed...you can always try adding plain soaked beetpulp,and if additional calories are still needed you can always try adding things like rice bran pellets,or even alfalfa pellets...but give it time...weight gain does not happen quickly...you want him to gain slowly.

      I also recommend a good probiotic such as Fastrack to help aid digestion,and possibly even an ulcer supplement such as Corta Flx Uguard or Finish Lines U7 Gastric Aid often make a big difference in weight gain and maintenance.

      And lastly...but most importantly...HAY HAY AND MORE HAY....above anything else-the more hay/fiber the better...offer free choice as good quality hay as possible...Alfalfa or an Alfalfa mix would be ideal...has more calories and will also benefit buffering his tummy.
      R.I.P. "Henry" 4/22/05 - 3/26/2010 We loved you so much....gone but NEVER FORGOTTEN...i hope we meet again


      • #4
        Originally posted by CelticRiverDance View Post

        He also gets a timothy hay mix....3-4 flakes twice a day.
        weigh your hay and ENSURE that he ingests 2% of his weight in it a day

        than look to the feed

        Tamara in TN
        Production Acres,Pro A Welsh Cobs
        I am one of the last 210,000 remaining full time farmers in America.We feed the others.


        • #5
          Originally posted by Tamara in TN View Post
          weigh your hay and ENSURE that he ingests 2% of his weight in it a day
          To clarify - >= 2% of his *desired* weight
          The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


          • #6
            For my hard-keeping OTTB I swear by Triple Crown Senior and free-choice hay. As soon as I go to anything less than free-choice the pounds start coming off. Also, be sure you have done a Panacur Powerpac and are worming against tapeworms every six months. And of course check the teeth.


            • #7
              Things I have used with very good success for adding weight:
              alfalfa (my first choice)
              flax seed (all of my horses get 1/2 cup a day, but I'll up that to 1 cup)
              soy bean meal - esp if they need to add along the top line
              up to a cup per day, great if you can find extruded soy bean meal that still has the fat
              a good vitamin/ mineral supplement ( I like Accel)

              what hasn't worked for me:
              senior feeds or ones with lots of beet pulp
              rice bran
              "As soon as you're born you start dyin'
              So you might as well have a good time"


              • #8
                I used to think my horse was a hard keeper. It wasn't until I really "got" free choice hay, and moved him to a barn with exactly that - abundant, free choice hay and the opportunity herd-wise for him to get it, that he stopped being a hard keeper and blossomed. I was feeding him 3 meals per day of TC senior, beet pulp, soaked cubes and rice bran and it was like trying to shovel during a blizzard (timely analogy but you get my drift, LOL). The above helped when I started really adding the soaked alfalfa cubes but what FINALLY worked for us:

                Moved to a barn with free choice alfalfa and a much smaller herd - he is out with 2 vs. 13. He actually stands at the hay and eats now vs. getting shoved away. Hay is put out in several piles, and there is a round bale to boot. Lots and lots of hay.

                Abundant, free choice hay in his stall. His hay rack is overflowing, and I am allowed to add more when it's empty. (fabulous, wonderful barn!!!!!) My guy gets all alfalfa and tolerates it well. He not only gained weight but muscle, topline. He is 20 and is in fantastic shape. Here are the Before and After pics - the first 2 are "BEFORE" - the last 2 are "AFTER" - taken this fall at the new barn. I kick myself for not moving him sooner!


                TC Senior is fabulous. If your horse is not getting enough hay, read the bag and feed him accordingly as TC senior is a "complete" feed. It is meant to be fed in larger quantities for the correct nutritional value.

                If your horse will tolerate alfalfa, do it. And rice bran would be my choice for fat, vs. corn oil.

                Good luck!
                Last edited by tpup; Feb. 22, 2010, 07:43 PM.


                • Original Poster

                  Thanks everyone for all the good advice. I was looking completely at the grain. I'll have to weigh my hay and see exactly how much I am feeding. It is not free choice though.

                  To answer some of the questions asked....he's been off the track for 1 1/2 years and he's just turning 6. He's wormed every 8 weeks and has his teeth done every 6 months. They were just done February 12th. In the past I had him on Farnum Weight Builder for about 8 months but it didn't seem to really help.
                  Life is what happens when you're making other plans. RiverDance


                  • #10
                    Purina Amplify is nothing short of miraculous to put weight on.Build up to a pound a day.


                    • #11
                      I'd get him off the senior feed and as a supplement to good quality hay, feed him twice a day and rolled barley with oil or some boiled linseed (you call it flax).

                      Both excellent for helping a horse that needs some extra calories and without getting them silly and hot.

                      If you put some warm water in it then it will help him maintain his body heat and reduce the necessity for him to turn his food to energy just to keep warm in the winter.

                      I'd be inclined to have him on free feed hay when he's turned out.

                      Check his worming regime too.


                      • #12
                        The hay is paramount, of course. But, the very best feed I've ever tried for horses needing weight or hard keepers is Purina Ultium. The results were amazing.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by CelticRiverDance View Post
                          He's wormed every 8 weeks
                          Can you lay out his last 12 months' deworming? Many, many people are using schedules that actually leave their horse infested, because vets aren't up enough on the latest issues and still recommend a rotation that allows resistance parasites to thrive.
                          The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


                          • #14
                            My OTTB mare was about 100 lbs under weight. I feed her free choice orchard grass, 3-4 flakes of alfalfa, 5 lbs of LMF Gold, 1lb rice bran, 3lbs beet pulp. Yeah it was a lot of feed but she looks AMAZING! Her coat is SOO shiny, has good weight and she has gained a lot of muscle too.
                            "Let the fence be the bit." - Phillip Dutton


                            • #15
                              Things that really helped my OTTB are:

                              - A low NSC grain. It was between Carb Guard and Triple Crown Senior.

                              - Free choice hay. Really you'll notice a difference. If you absolutely cannot get free choice hay, buy your own supply and give him extra if you're at a boarding barn. So that way, the time he is without hay is drastically reduced. Get as close to free choice as possible if you can't get there all the way.

                              - Alfalfa pellets or cubes added to his grain with a top dressing of ground flax.

                              - Panacur Power pack. I swear it added more bloom to him after I did it. I include it into my worming protocol yearly.

                              - A pre/pro biotic supplement. I like Uckele's G.U.T as it contains pre/pro biotics and other ingredients to help with any ulcer issues. TractGuard is something similar to consider as well.

                              I really think the main ingredients to his success were hay, digestive supplement and any other forage supplementation (alfalfa cubes/pellets). The flax does make his coat look great and I do feed him some grain since he does work and just needs a little extra boost to keep weight while working.

                              I also noticed a difference from age 6-7. He definitely held weight differently and filled out more. He no longer looked like a large colt. He now looks like a good solid horse that is mistaken for a Warmblood on occasion...not the wiry thoroughbred he was when I first bought him at age 4.

                              I would also get his teeth done every six months, especially because he is still on the younger side.

                              So I'd power pack, stay consistent with worming, add more hay and maybe some alfalfa cubes/ pellets to his grain with a digestive supplement to start with.


                              • #16
                                I have discovered that by soaking my hard keepers feed they absolutely blossom! I have no scientific research to give you. I just do a lot of "out reach" for distressed horses. I realized the ones with no/poor teeth were picking up weight super fast. The only difference was the soaked feed. Now ALL the distressed horses get soaked feed. My DD's barrel horse - a NOTORIOUSLY hard keeper at coming 10 gets soaked feed - he is now Pleasingly Plump!

                                Just a personal FYI - good luck!
                                "If you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there"


                                • #17
                                  What ladipus said. And soaked feed. The more meals a day the better (I realize that is hard in a boarding barn). Soaked alfalfa cubes if it doesn't make him hot. Maybe you can supply some extra hay or pay extra? A nibble net might come in handy so he doesn't trash his stall with extra hay.

                                  I like to keep them always eating. Great ulcer preventative.


                                  • #18

                                    I think you received many great suggestions and things to look at which should help you start to see results,

                                    As mentioned you need to know how much hay the horse is getting and it is stressed he gets as much as possible..adding in some alfalfa hay which offers more calories per pound than grass hays (on average) may be helpful.

                                    Checking teeth, doing fecal to rule out any worm infestation and ruling out any other possible health issues, checking that he doesn't have ulcers and if so getting those treated.

                                    As for the TC senior, how much is he getting?? The feeding recommendation is at least 5 lbs a day to meet the vitamin/mineral needs for your horse, based on the TB owners we talk to anywhere from 6-10 pounds of feed daily is not out of the question for these horses as many often are hardkeepers.

                                    You could try some rice bran or beet pulp or oil in addition to the feed for additonal fat without getting additional starches/sugars- I would avoid bringing in sweet feeds or grains such as corn, oats, barley as these ingredients are high in starches and sugars.

                                    And remember results don't happen overnight....it is very common to hear that you should see some kind of results after 6-8 weeks when making a diet change/ supplement change.

                                    Something else to consider is his environment, temperment and work level..is he worked hard, does he get enough calories to cover this amount of work? is he a nervous/active horse who is pacing the fence or constantly looking for a friend, or is a quiet horse who is often relaxed? Has there been any recent changes; his work level, change to a new place, boarding situation, etc? These too can also impact his ability to keep weight on.
                                    Triple Crown feed fan?
                                    Join Triple Crown Nutrition, Inc. on facebook at:


                                    • #19
                                      We had a TWH gelding that was a body condition score of 1-2 from not getting enough food from his previous owner. He gained 100+ pounds in 6 months with access to some grass, free choice hay and we supplemented with toasted soy beans - high fat, high protein, no sugar. It worked great for him.


                                      • Original Poster

                                        Thanks again to everyone for all the helpful suggestions. I will be putting a few of these suggestions to good use. I'll let you all know how I make out.
                                        Life is what happens when you're making other plans. RiverDance