Feeding extra during growth spurt? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 5 Old 07-30-2011, 01:52 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: May 2011
Location: Chino Valley, AZ
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Feeding extra during growth spurt?

Okay, so Aires has been going through a MAJOR growth spurt in the last month. He has leveled out completely and is almost starting to get a little uphill (he was extremely downhill when I bought him two months ago) and his head has gotten bigger as well (already outgrew the large Weaver halter I bought him three weeks ago and is almost out of the rope halter I bought last week!). I've also noticed that he's getting a bit more ribby than I would like, but our BO isn't feeding him any more than he was before.

He's not really underweight by any stretch of the imagination, but where before he was a slow eater and wasn't extremely interested in snacking on the leftover hay in the turnouts, now he is like a vacuum and doesn't leave one scrap of hay in his stall.

And heaven forbid there's any leftover hay in the turnouts! The other day my friend went to bring him in for me (I had to go to work) and she had a major fight on her hands because he DID NOT want to leave the pile of hay scraps the BO had dumped in the turnout with him. Normally he comes up to the gate and stands to be haltered or have the lead rope attached (I leave his halter on when I turn him out...she takes it off 'cuz it's a rope halter and the geldings are notorious for taking off other horses' rope halters). She actually had to go out into the turnout to get him, he refused to lift his head from the hay pile in order for her to halter him, and she literally had to DRAG him out of the turnout. I've never had that problem before, even when there had been hay in the turnout he was in (before his growth spurt).

So, since the BO isn't feeding him any extra, would it be a bad thing to get some alfalfa pellets for him and feed him a midday "meal"? Would it spoil him or does he need the extra nutrition another meal would give him? I'm not really looking to feed any grain or supplements (not yet...he's not even broke yet...maybe after we start riding trails I will, but we'll see), just wondering if an extra meal is in order since he's growing so much.

Thanks in advance!

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post #2 of 5 Old 07-30-2011, 04:30 AM
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Yes, he needs some more feed. The ribby part of it is not was bothers me, it's that he suddenly is seeking out each individual strand of hay to eat. That tells me that he isn't getting enough to compensate for what his body is burning off. Can you talk to the BO about maybe just feeding him more so that you don't have to do the mid-day meal?
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post #3 of 5 Old 07-30-2011, 11:51 AM Thread Starter
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That's the thing. I mentioned it to the BO the other day when I paid my board and he seemed to dismiss it out of hand. I said that I was surprised at how much Aires had grown in such a short time because I had to get him a new halter and that he had turned into a little vacuum cleaner when it came to hay, so there wasn't a single bit left in his stall by the time I got there at 8am (BO feeds around 6am and before this growth spurt, Aires usually wasn't done eating until 9 or 9:30am). I said "Since he seems to be so hungry, do you think it'd be a good idea to feed him a little more at mealtimes?" The BO basically said that what he was getting was fine. I don't think it's that he doesn't care (Aires is pretty much his favorite horse at the stable, other than his own 30yo gelding, Skeeter), I just don't think he realizes the extent of the "problem."

I would rather feed him pellets than buy a bale of hay right now. I can get a bag of pellets that will last me a month for $15, while a bale of alfalfa costs $17-20 and will last us maybe two weeks. Feeding a midday meal isn't that big of a deal on my days off and when I'm working the closing shift. It's when I work the opening shift (like next week) that it's an issue, but I think my friend would feed him for me (she feeds her mare a midday meal).

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post #4 of 5 Old 07-30-2011, 01:32 PM
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One thing to keep in mind when a young horse is going through a growth spurt is tendons and ligaments grow at a slower rate than the long bones. Upping his level of nutrition could potentially compound the problem by encouraging more skeletal growth. He shoud not be ravenous but some ribbiness is not alarming.

As far as supplementing and what's more cost effective, a $20 110# bale is $.18/#. If heaven forbid it's only a 65# two string bale the cost is identical. Pellets at $15/50# is $.30/#. You feed by weight to get the same amount of calories so the pellets will actually be costing you twice as much as the hay. If a bag of pellets last you a month, you're feeding less than 2#/day. Not worth the trouble. If you go through a bale in 2 weeks, than you're feeding 8#/day or enough to make a difference.
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post #5 of 5 Old 07-30-2011, 02:26 PM Thread Starter
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It's $15 for an 80lbs bag of pellets. Also, the bales of hay we get around here are generally 95lbs, not 110lbs. They're still three-string, but they're much more loosely packed. A 95lbs bale used to last my old gelding one week, feeding two flakes per day (one morning and one evening...granted, he was MUCH smaller than Aires).

So, going by your formula, it would be $.18/lbs to feed the pellets and $.21/lbs to feed hay.

As far as him being ravenous, he acts like he is. Any scrap of hay he can find is immediately consumed, whereas before he generally ignored scraps and leftovers, in his stall or out. When I say he's a vacuum when it comes to scraps in his stall, I mean that literally. All the other horses (except my friend's arab mare who will lick the sand clean if you let her) usually have some tidbits and scraps left in their stalls, even the dude string horses who are used for multiple rides almost daily. Aires' stall looks like he never gets fed because it is so clean.

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