Underweight, feeding suggestions? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 05-24-2010, 11:08 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Chatsworth, CA
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Underweight, feeding suggestions?

Bali is about 250lbs underweight, according to my mom who just came out for a visit and hasn't seen him since she sent him to me in October. He looks skinny to me, I just didn't expect to hear he was THAT skinny from her...

Anyway, he lives in a pasture with three other horses. He is bottom of the pecking order. They feed them each 6 flakes of three way (oat, barley, rye hay) a day. He only ever ate Alfalfa back home, so I am thinking this could contribute to how much weight he has lost, plus he is probably only eating 4 flakes of his own cause he is always chased off his feed.

I went and bought him some Alfalfa pellets today and fed him a bucket of them before his regular dinner. My mom mentioned strategy.. I hear mixed reviews for strategy.. is it a good feed to put some weight on him? I want healthy weight, obviously, not just to pork him up.

He's a VERY easy keeper, a paint gelding, and so I don't think it will take a lot to make him gain this weight back, I just need advice on how and what to feed. My mom wasn't sure with the three way what to supplement him with exactly.

I am pre veterinary med for companion animals, and purina (maker of strategy) makes the WORST food for cats and dogs, so that is why I am asking about whether strategy is a good choice to put him on on top of the alfalfa pellets..


Proud owner of 13yr old Paint Gelding, Bali! <3
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post #2 of 11 Old 05-24-2010, 11:29 PM
Join Date: Apr 2010
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I would think that the main reason he is losing weight is because the other horses aren't letting him eat enough. I just went through this with my guy, they aren't going out on grass until June so are still getting hay. He lost a lot of weight, not quite as much as your guy, mainly because I caught it really early.

The best way to bulk him up in a health way is to make sure he can get hay. If you have access to a stall I would suggest giving him his hay in their, letting him eat and then putting him back out. If you are going to use a feed I just used oats. They don't put much heat into the horse as there isn't to much sugar, you want to stay away from the sugar feeds if you can. Another good feed is fat and fiber. Start with a small amount of feed and work your way up to what you want him at.

I've never used strategy so I can't help you there. If you keep it to the more natural feeds you should be fine. The best thing though is the hay.

Hope that helps and good luck :)
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post #3 of 11 Old 05-25-2010, 12:00 AM
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Pennsylvania
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Ive heard good and bad about strategy so Ill give you a bit of both. Ive heard that it can make a horse hot. I have a girlfriend who used it for a while on her OTTB and he became practially unmanageable. On the other side of the fence, I have a friend who only will use strategy on her higher level competing horses. I have personally never used it because technically it is classified as a sweetfeed and I have a pretty hot horse to begin with. He would burst out of his skin if he got any more sugar than he gets right now. I would suggest Nutrena Compete for a slower, more nutritious weight gain. I also like BlueSeals Vintage Performance for the same reason. They are high in protein and low in starches and sugars. I happen to agree with the other poster though, I believe his problem is lack of hay. The grain helps but cant replace good forage. Stall him and hay him if you can...seperate him in some way. If they other horses are 'stealing' his hay, its not gonna get any better without intervention. Im sure you have already checked but how about his teeth? Painful chewing can cause a fast weight loss...so can worms. Start with the most obvious problem and work your way from there. Good luck!
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post #4 of 11 Old 05-25-2010, 07:45 AM
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Question, how is the hay fed? Are there just enough piles for the number of horses or is it spread around so that it imitates grazing? If piles are placed then there needs to be at least one more than the number of horses. If they are pretty ornery about sharing then maybe twice the number of piles per horse would help. I like to scatter it pretty good, thus making fewer territorial areas.

I agree with the consensus on allowing him a place to eat unmolested rather than adding grain. He might do much better if he can be kept separate, perhaps with one other horse who isn't so bossy.

When I fed Strategy it did not make my horses hot, btw. I now prefer to add Beet Pulp shreds to help a thin horse gain. Alfalfa pellets are a great addition as well. I mix em in with the BP. ;)

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post #5 of 11 Old 05-25-2010, 01:18 PM
Green Broke
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Location: Arkansas
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I would go with the alfalfa pellets, a vit/min supplement (like GrandVite), and some fat. That should round out his diet well and you can cut back on the alfalfa pellets once he's a good wieght without effecting his nutritional values (the supplement). I like to use Uckele's Cocosoya oil for fat. It's affordable and has the good Omega 3's in it. Flax meal or oil, or rice bran works well too. Horsetech.com is a great source for flax meal. Feed 1/2 cup to 2 cups of oil or rice bran.

You don't need the vitamin supplement if he's already getting a fortified grain or feed.

Use a 3qt feed scoop to measure your alfalfa pellets. A 3qt scoop will hold 3-3.5 lbs of alfalfa pellets. I would start with one scoop a day and 1/2 cup of fat (oil or meal/bran). Feed that for 1 week, then increase to 2 scoops plus 1 cup of fat. Stick with this amount for 4 weeks. Use a weight tape once a week, same time of day and same place on the horse, to track his progress. You want to see gradual weight gain.
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post #6 of 11 Old 05-25-2010, 02:34 PM Thread Starter
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I am not able to feed him his hay outside the pasture cause our BO is weird. I'm not concerned with the sweet feed, he's very laid back and extra sweets wouldn't make him unmanagable. I am glad no one ha big complains with strategy and maybe start him on that... Ugh his pasture buddies need to e nicer.. Lol
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post #7 of 11 Old 05-25-2010, 11:53 PM
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I use a product called Weight Builder. Its a coarse powder you sprinkle on feed. Adds calories and fat, not sugar. Its made by Farnum, any feed store should have it. I've had excellent results with it.

I'd use actually a senior feed that is a complete feed, its easily digestible and helps pack on weight. Use alfalfa hay, senior feed, and weight builder and I rehab a lot of skinny horses with this.

Spent a whole hour today laying in a pasture, waiting for a sparkling vampire to show up. Alas, I woke up and looked over, only to find a mound of horse crap. Sigh.
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post #8 of 11 Old 05-26-2010, 10:58 AM
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Well it sounds like your barn owner is the one that needs to open their eyes. If your barn manager isn't willing to let you make necessary changes to get your horse up to proper weight, than I'd look into switching barns. That is ridiculous.

Strategy is a good feed, but many people make the mistake of thinking it is just like any regular feed and feed FAR too much. Even for an underweight horse, you really only need to give the horse one small coffee can size each feeding. Feeding scoops and scoops of this every feeding will create a very hot horse.

Your horse should have as much quality hay as he can eat as well as access to free choice salt and minerals.

He needs to be removed from the current feeding scenario, or he'll never gain weight. I guarantee the other horses will though. I wouldn't even buy any special feed or start anything new in the current situation, you'll just be paying to fatten up the other two beasts.

A simple solution would be building a small catch pen in his pasture.... get some temporary step in fence posts and some tape or hot rope. Put it in a corner and feed him in there until he's done. If the person who feeds won't do that, demand he go into a different feeding situation or leave.

Again, that is ridiculous that the BO/FM won't work with you.

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post #9 of 11 Old 05-26-2010, 11:16 AM
Green Broke
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Location: Indiana
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There is more to be concerned with on the sweet feed than just his behavior being changed or not - simple fact is it is not a healthy way to try to build weight. It's pretty much like giving someone Big Mac's every day because they are skinny rather than feeding them a balanced diet - they will gain, but they won't be gaining healthily. KWIM?
It really boils down to what SeWHC said, though, without a change in the situation, he is not going to gain. You will either need to work out an arrangement with the BO or start looking for a new (healthy) situation for your horse.
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post #10 of 11 Old 06-01-2010, 01:14 PM
Green Broke
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I agree with SeWHC. If your barn manager won't help you with this, or you can't afford to pay for boarding with a stall so he can eat in peace, then I'd find another barn to move him too. Horses need to be separated when they're fed their "grain" so each horse only gets what they should have.
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