Slow eater, any suggestions? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 21 Old 02-14-2012, 05:00 PM Thread Starter
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Slow eater, any suggestions?

Greetings all,
My new boy is a rescue and I am working on trying to put weight on him. He has (decent, but not the best I've seen) free choice hay, but the BO is telling me he is only eating about 6 flakes a day. He also gets 2 quarts of Omolene 200, 1/2 cup corn oil, 2 pounds of alfalfa cubes and 1 scoop of weight builder twice a day in addition to the free choice hay as recommended by the vet. Sometimes he doesn't eat it all and sometimes he does. He is gaining but very slowly.

He is the first horse I've ever had who didn't wolf down everything I put in front of him so I'm wondering if anyone has any suggestions or sees any glaring flaws in the feeding schedule I am using... I've had him for 5 1/2 weeks and he has been on this feeding regimen for almost 4 weeks once he got over the bad respiratory infection he came to me with from being on the feedlot. He is a 17h 4yo American Warmblood gelding. Many thanks!
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post #2 of 21 Old 02-14-2012, 05:05 PM
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Hi Dragonrider, way to go on the rescue!

Have his teeth been checked? Is he under any stress when eating? I have a slow eater, his teeth are great he's just slow. He also stresses when he eats thinking the others can get to his feed so he acts nervous and constantly checks his surroundings. My avatar is a super picky eater. He will not touch anything other than plain feed, so maybe he dosen't like the oil or weight builder. Try feeding his grain without the additives see how he does. Other than that IDK...

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Last edited by FlyGap; 02-14-2012 at 05:08 PM.
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post #3 of 21 Old 02-14-2012, 07:18 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks FlyGap,
I did have his teeth checked by the vet right after he arrived and they are fine. He was very stressed for the first few weeks but now that he is out of QT and in a nice, large pasture he is starting to settle in and he doesn't seem upset or distracted when he is eating. I hung out with him in his pasture just watching him eat his hay for a good hour and he just seems to eat very slowly. Same with the grain. He is the only horse in his pasture though there are horses on either side of him in the adjoining pastures.

Maybe I'll try backing off the add ons and just do straight up feed and alfalfa cubes for a bit. It is possible he doesn't like the weight builder or oil, I'm just not used to these picky eaters!
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post #4 of 21 Old 02-14-2012, 07:38 PM
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I agree with taking the oil and weight builder out and see what happens. I have one who is extremely picky also and if you change something, he won't eat for weeks! I put hoof medic in his feed (on accident one night, meant to put in different bucket) and he refused to eat for almost a week, even though I only put it in that one night. The sad thing was this was only a half a scoop of hoof medic, that little scoop that comes with it! Also though, this boy has ulcers and remains on ranitidine so I don't know if that is part of his problem also. I know as long as he is on meds he will eat all of his feed, just slowly. Take him off his meds for a day or two and he instantly goes to eating half or less. Might have the vet check and see if they think he might have some ulcers.

BTW, welcome to the forum!

You know how to make a miniature horse even smaller? Leave them in the dryer a little longer!
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Last edited by minihorse927; 02-14-2012 at 07:40 PM. Reason: I can't spell!
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post #5 of 21 Old 02-14-2012, 09:00 PM
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I'm sure I've read that alfalfa is not great for weight.

I would also simplify his diet and eliminate anything that might irritate an ulcer -- for sure any grain product (oats being #1) and that means on manufactured/pre-mixed feeds you have to read the ingredients. I don't know what Omelen is. Check out the ingredient list.

Hay -- all he wants and make sure he can get a spot to eat away from other horses. Water, free minerals, free salt. I and several people I know have used beet pulp successfully.

Check teeth. Watch for urine and manure -- is the urine clear? is the manure wet or dry? Worms? At 17h and 4yo he should be eating ALOT more hay than he is. About 3 times as much at a minimum I'd say.
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post #6 of 21 Old 02-14-2012, 09:10 PM
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Omolene is a textured feed made by Purina containing small amounts of molasses and large amount of soy oil. If he does have ulcers, this feed would make them worse. But at the same time, if he does have ulcers, alfalfa is believed to have a sort of antacid ability to it. For weight gain as far as types of hay go, timothy is great. At least in my experience, also great luck with beet pulp. I have two ulcer cases here right now and they both get beet pulp to help maintain weight, it works wonders.

One other question I thought of, are the alfalfa cubes soaked or not? I have horses who will refuse to eat unsoaked cubes of any kind, it hurts their mouth.

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post #7 of 21 Old 02-14-2012, 09:43 PM
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Originally Posted by NorthernMama View Post
I'm sure I've read that alfalfa is not great for weight.
Alfalfa is VERY good for weight. It's the only thing that finally put weight on my gelding.

My skinny guy was getting about the same diet, no oil or weight gain though and he also got 3quarts of soaked beet pulp (approx 1 1/2qts unsoaked). He took FOREVER to eat it all at first, I guess he just wasn't used to eating large meals.

I feed flakes of alfalfa instead of the cubes though since living in Dairy Cattle country it's easy to obtain and a lot cheaper than the cubes.
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post #8 of 21 Old 02-14-2012, 11:57 PM
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Alfalfa/lucerne is great for weight, as said above :)

Aside from the above suggestions, you can speak to your vet about giving a vitamin B12 injection. I've given it to some of the horses I've had straight off the track, that have been let down and are in pretty average condition, with not a great appetite. One Vit B12 injection, and they start eating like pigs and gaining condition.

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post #9 of 21 Old 02-15-2012, 09:09 AM
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If he was that stressed and now doesn't eat well, I would treat for ulcers to be honest. When my mare gets picky with her grain, a few days of omeprazole will help immensely.

I would not use weight builder, corn oil, or Omeline, to be honest. There are much better products out there. Instead of oil, I would go with the cool calories 100, it's 100% fat, like oil, but will not cause the inflammatory response in his body the way corn products will. Weight Builder is okay, but there are better products out there for the money, like the Cool Calories. I also have had great luck adding Empower Boost, a little goes a long way and it really does help them gain weight without throwing a ton of feed their way.

Alfalfa is great for ulcers and great for weight gain, I would keep using it! If you are using cubes, I would soak them though, not all horses need soaked cubes, but it makes it easier to eat, plus you are putting water into him at the same time.
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post #10 of 21 Old 02-15-2012, 09:53 AM
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Have him check with your vet first. Maybe he's not feeling well or something..since he already had an infection before.
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