what to feed a very thin draft cross weanling? - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 21 Old 04-14-2011, 09:24 AM
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Let us not forget that young horses SHOULD be lean.

I have been corrected in this many times by both my vet and an equine nutritionist. You should be able to see 5-6 ribs on a weanling, at least. (For any breed, this is REALLY true of Drafts though as obesity is a major issue with them)

What you do want to make sure of is that they do not lose so much weight their spine is prominent, that the base of the tail loses too much (should still have a "round bum") or that they have NO neck fat. Don't go by ribs alone - they can be misleading, especially in the deep chested and big breeds.

I know people freak out when they see a horse which is actually a good weight, we're just not used to seeing a "trim" horse (and it upsets us) - but being lean is so much better for them while they are growing than being fat. It will reduce the chances of him developing OCD, arthritis, and developing too quickly.

That aside, we do not generally feed our drafts grain at all - if they need more than pasture/forage we give it to them in the form of a good quality hay. I've heard the many many people say not to feed "rich" hay to drafts, but, we found they do require a certain amount of protein (which is a bit higher than "crap" hay) to do really well, especially while growing. Ours seem to do best on an alfalfa/grass hay mix.... and what they DON'T need is all the sugar that usually comes in the low grade grass hay (think of it as feeding a child candy for meals instead of healthy food... the health ramifications are HUGE - not necessarily immediately, but later in life).

If you're finding he puts on too much weight with a good hay, then choose a lower quality hay... but do make sure to watch how much sugar is in it. The later the hay is cut, the higher the sugar content will be.

The odd time we need to supplement the hay and forage diet - we do so with a low carb (low sugar), high fat pellet, and a low-sugar(or sugar free) beet pulp (yup, they now make it.... that's how aware people are becoming of how much sugars they're feeding their horses, and how BAD it is for them!)

Drafts can be prone to obesity, OCD, Arthritis (later in life), ESPM/EPM, Cushings, Founder/Laminitis - the risks of all of these can be reduced with a solid breeding program and monitoring against obesity.

(and again, this comes from our vet and certified Equine Nutritionist - both of whom have taken me to task for allowing our Clyde mare to regularly be too fat!! (she's a SUPER easy keeper, and doesn't do a lot of work yet... we call her an "air fern") )

BTW - congrats, he's adorable!!!
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post #12 of 21 Old 04-14-2011, 12:25 PM
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His size sounds about right for his breeding. The horse in my avatar is a BelgianxQH and he was about the size of your guy at that age, maybe a bit bigger, I don't remember (he's also supposed to grow to around 17 hands).

Always remember that feeling of looking at a big, open country over the ears of a good horse, seeing a new trail unwind ahead of you, and that ever-spectacular view from the top of the ridge!!! Follow my training blog: http://robertsontraining.blogspot.com/
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post #13 of 21 Old 04-14-2011, 12:33 PM
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I have a perch/tb draft cross and when I got him at 11 mos. he was 14.3 and is about 17.3-18 hds. now at almost 7, just had another late growth spurt! When he was younger he had free-feed grass hay (bermuda/orchard) and I fed him Triple Crown junior pellets. Now that he is pretty much grown, he gets grass hay and Purina Strategy pellets which are formulated for grass hay diets, plus some flax seed meal-makes his coat nice and shiny. Congrats on your little guy! You are going to have so much fun! I have the best rides on my gelding and he attracts attention both for his size and his sweet, endearing personality :)

Riverside, CA
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post #14 of 21 Old 04-14-2011, 11:26 PM
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Everything you're giving him now is a good place to start. I think you're going to find that it's going to be deficient in calories, protein and lysine. The alflafa is good but I'd give him twice what you'e offering. The alfalfa is going to provide more Ca, higher calories and protein (lysine) than grass hay. The Merit mineral is a decent product. I would like it to have a higher Ca:P but as long as you feed it with the alfalfa that's no biggie. It has good values on Vits A and E, OK on Cu, Zn and if you need it Se. You're not wasting your $$ paying a premium for salt either. What's the purpose of the A pellets? Just a way to get the mineral in him? You pay a premium for pellets and they tend to be made from a lesser quality hay. They will eat the mineral just by itself. Hang a bucket of it on the fence and let them free choice it. When you move him to pasture, you're going to be faced with some of the same issues. You might find that you need to simplify his diet. Pulling him out for an hour 2x a day to eat some alfalfa can get taxing and he might not be terribly interested in it over green grass. Changing him over to something like a ration balancer (30-32% protein) that he only eats 1-2# a day might be all he needs (that will provide 9-18 g lysine).

Deworm and give him shots. I wouldn't trust what they say they've given. It won't hurt anything if it has been done.
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post #15 of 21 Old 04-15-2011, 04:38 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for your advice everybody. I think I'll stick to the free choice hay and minerals, and supplement him a bit more with the second-cut alfalfa hay at each feeding, and then transition him over to a moderate amount of a pelleted feed when he goes onto the pasture. I'm hoping to give him a bath (he's caked with manure, poor kid) as soon as the weather warms up and then I can take a better picture showing his actual weight. Thanks again!

Oh -- I was giving him the soaked alfalfa cubes as an excuse to bring him into the barn each day and work with him!
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post #16 of 21 Old 04-17-2011, 11:25 PM Thread Starter
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Here are some photos, guys!

my new little fellow!

Oh, and I thought I'd clarify that he came to me this filthy and it hasn't been warm enough to bathe him yet. Hopefully soon...(though it snowed here today).
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post #17 of 21 Old 04-23-2011, 03:50 PM
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I actually wouldn't want him any heavier... truth be told.

He has a solid looking topline in that photo, the base of his tail is filled in, his hips are filled in, his neck and shoulder look pretty good too for his age. Unless all the hair is hiding some really sharp angles... be careful about putting more weight on him - it can be REALLY hard to get it off some of these drafts!
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post #18 of 21 Old 04-23-2011, 04:14 PM
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I would say a good grass hay/pasture, some alfalfa pellets, and a vitamin/mineral supplement.

Lots of worming. When I got my yearling last year I was deworming him every 3-4 weeks the first couple times because the load was so high, then it leveled off and he could be put on the same schedule as the other boys.

And yes - he is on track for height. He will be a big boy and will continue to grow in height until at least 5-6 years of age.

All I pay my psychiatrist is cost of feed and hay, and he'll listen to me any day!

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post #19 of 21 Old 04-23-2011, 05:17 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by TheLastUnicorn View Post
I actually wouldn't want him any heavier... truth be told.

He has a solid looking topline in that photo, the base of his tail is filled in, his hips are filled in, his neck and shoulder look pretty good too for his age. Unless all the hair is hiding some really sharp angles... be careful about putting more weight on him - it can be REALLY hard to get it off some of these drafts!
The hair IS hiding his true condition, I'm afraid. He has a frizzy mane and a coat that's at least 2 inches long, which is sloooowly shedding out. His topline is not great. His hip/shoulder are extremely pointy with no meat whatsoever, and he is quite ribby. Once he sheds more, or I get a chance to give him a bath, I will post some better photos showing his weight.
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post #20 of 21 Old 04-25-2011, 11:23 AM Thread Starter
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Here is a photo from yesterday, minus a lot of that ridiculous winter coat he came with, and banded mane and forelock so you can see his head and neck. His ribs and shoulder/hip are still hidden under this coat. He's got that big tummy look. :( I am going to deworm him in the next few days, despite the woman saying she did it before he left.

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