Feed for Weight Gain - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 49 Old 04-09-2017, 10:43 PM Thread Starter
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Feed for Weight Gain

My 4 year old mare needs to put on some weight!! I dewormed her early winter due to a high fecal egg count and again almost 2 weeks ago with a product that takes care of more parasites.
Have spoken to my vet and he wants to recheck fecal this week before doing anymore testing.
In the meantime to help her gain weight, beet pulp and oats have been suggested by a few people here.
Is my vet the best place to get info on how much and how often or is there a general rule based on age/weight?
I don't want to make her sick adding something new to her diet incorrectly.
Sorry to be asking for help again :(
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post #2 of 49 Old 04-09-2017, 11:16 PM
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Your vet is an excellent person to ask.

As a rule, when introducing a new feed, do it slowly. Begin with a small amount (a handful is good!) and work your way up to however much the horse needs. A handful at a time, until you see the results you want.

If your horse has an adverse reaction (as mine did to legumes in her feed) STOP the new feed and try something else!

Most horses do best with smaller meals more often (as do humans!) and this is particularly true for skinny ones. However, not everyone has this option, as I'm well aware as I don't have it myself! If you use a complete feed (as I do) there'll be feeding guides listed on the bag. Those guides are often for quite a large amount of feed but are a good place to start, especially as you are trying to add weight so feeding more calories than your horse is using is actually a good thing.

I'm in Australia so can't advise on specific products as I only know what products are available in my area. However, my mare looks awesome on a complete feed based on steam extruded barley. I've never had much success with beet pulp (my poor keeper actually dropped a significant amount of weight on it and its addition was the only change to his feed). Oats can be good but are quite 'fizzy' calories so can result in an excessively energetic horse.

Whatever you do, you don't want your horse gaining weight too quickly. It's not healthy and can result in fat deposits in problem areas such as around her heart and liver. Gradual weight gain should always be the goal as then it will go to the right places!

At four, she may simply be growing, and might not have any underlying reason for her weight problems. A growing horse will be harder to keep looking good. But it never hurts to exhaust all other possibilities. Do you have a photo?

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post #3 of 49 Old 04-09-2017, 11:41 PM
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Renew Gold. It's available almost anywhere, is not crazy expensive (going by how much you need not per bag. Some brands sell 30lb bags, some sell 50 lb bags) and is non GMO and organic. It is based on good fats (stabilized rice bran, coconut, etc) and my high metabolism 17hh OTTB only needs 3 oz/day, compared to the almost 3lbs he was eating before!! Wish I found it ages ago when I got the poor guy, he was crazy skinny. Now he's a solid 1300-some lbs and maintaining well with the Renew and lots of hay.
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post #4 of 49 Old 04-09-2017, 11:53 PM Thread Starter
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@blue eyed pony
I will call my vet about adding a complete feed to her diet!!
What kind of reaction did your horse have to the legumes?
I will get some pics of her to post on this thread when I see her tomorrow.
She came back from 90 days of training where she was rode everyday in October and I have mostly just been doing ground work with her since so I assume some of why she looks so thin could be due to muscle loss. However it is time for her to go back to work so I need to figure out how to get the weight back on her safely for sure. Thanks for your advice!
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post #5 of 49 Old 04-09-2017, 11:56 PM
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Horses are just like us, in that excess calories< ie,more then needed for daily activities, get stored- ie, horse gains weight
Calories come in two forms
Hot calories, ie grains, of which oats are the lowest in NSC, but still high, compared to other feeds. When you feed hot calories, you risk laminitis and colic, and mood highs, directly in proportion to amount fed

Cool calories come from fats, like canola oil and flax. They do not have the same associated risks. That is why many senior feeds are high fat, as those hroses need the calories,but often have a metabolic issue that precludes feeding hot calories
Many performance feeds also use cool calories, to avoid those sugar highs

Beetpulpis also excellent to put on weight, as it is higher in calories then forage, but is digested as a forage, so has none of the associated risks in feeding hot calories

It is so important to be able to read labels, know what your horse needs, and often those needs can be met without buying into some bagged horse feed
First place to start, is to look a the forage, which should be the main part of any horse's diet. Feed a more energy dense forage, free choice forage, and if that does not keep weight on a horse-then add more concentrated calories, with my choice being cool calories
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post #6 of 49 Old 04-09-2017, 11:56 PM Thread Starter
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@ThoroughbredBug
That is a huge difference in the amount of feed to keep weight on your boy!! I will see if it is available here and mention it to my vet.
My mare has free access to hay and seems to eat all day long. Mind you, they eat from a slow feeder so I guess it takes more time to consume the same amount of hay as she did before moving to this barn.
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post #7 of 49 Old 04-10-2017, 12:02 AM Thread Starter
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@Smilie
That is very interesting info - thank you for explaining!!
Part of the reason I was worried about just adding feed was that I have heard some stories of grains causing colic and other health concerns.
Cool calories sounds like a good plan and I will do some further research.
Can forage be tested easily for energy density?
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post #8 of 49 Old 04-10-2017, 12:03 AM
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First question:
What forage is she on, and how much?
You can't decide what to add, without knowing that baseline, and if the hay is of poor quality, or not enough, that is where you start+ALWAYS

Unless you only feed some bagged feed, which is not really ideal, then whatever that label reads, IS NOT THAT horses diet, nor even should it be the major part. It is a small part of that total diet , thus even if some bagged feed has a relatively high fat content, taken together with poor forage, might still not meet demands
You don't look at the label on an energy bar, and consider that your daily diet, do you?
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post #9 of 49 Old 04-10-2017, 12:08 AM
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Originally Posted by DebRVT View Post
@Smilie
That is very interesting info - thank you for explaining!!
Part of the reason I was worried about just adding feed was that I have heard some stories of grains causing colic and other health concerns.
Cool calories sounds like a good plan and I will do some further research.
Can forage be tested easily for energy density?

Yes, but make sure it is sent to a lab that tests hay for horses in mind, and not just for cattle, as many of the labs testing hay for cattle, don't test for NSC, which is not a concern, unless you have a metabolic horse, like I do
Usually, a good protein level, around 14% goes hand in hand with good calorie level
of energy
Some oats is probably okay, but I would not be feeding high amount of oats to put on weight
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post #10 of 49 Old 04-10-2017, 12:09 AM
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Originally Posted by DebRVT View Post
What kind of reaction did your horse have to the legumes?
All four legs and her face swelled up. The legumes (feed lupins, a common horse and livestock feed here) were the only significant change to her environment. It was a relatively minor reaction and her weight picked up massively, but allergies often worsen with repeated exposure, and I don't like the thought of risking my horse's health just to get her weight up when there's such a huge range of options.

Legume allergies aren't common in horses at all but they do happen sometimes. Most grain-free weight gain feeds are legume-based, so my girl is on a grain based one instead.

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