Feeding my Percheron - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 4 Old 12-11-2011, 06:23 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Genesee Twp, Michigan
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Feeding my Percheron

I have a 5 yrs old gelding. When I got him, he was underweight. We let him free feed on a round bail with the other 4 horses and was fed grain once a day. He put on weight quickly!!! He hay is now fed twice a day and have cut back on the grain. I don't want him to get over weight because he will not be worked much over the winter but I want him healthy. Any suggestions??

I have heard that being a cold blood he will gain weight quickly but then will have trouble getting it off and can become even more lazy then he already is. Sounds like me but that's another topic heheeee.
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post #2 of 4 Old 12-11-2011, 07:08 PM
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Maine, USA
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I would make sure he has hay at least 3 times a day... A horse shouldn't go too long without eating, as their stomachs are designed to have something in them all the time. They are grazers. So too long without food= too much acid in the stomach. Which can cause ulcers.

I think you need to just experiment until you figure out what works for your boy. All hay and no grain could work. Free choice hay and a little grain might work too. Or hay 3 times a day and a grain twice a day. It really depends on the horse, and how much pasture time he has, what's available for him to graze on in his pasture, how much he exercises... It varies so much depending on the situation.
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post #3 of 4 Old 12-11-2011, 08:42 PM
Join Date: Sep 2009
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Highly recommend Dr. Beth Valentine's draft horse diet. Even if you aren't having problems, it's a great preventative.

Last winter I thought I was controlling the boys' hay intake. By spring I realized they had packed on a ton of weight. That's when I started researching slow feeders. It took all summer to whittle off the pounds. The slow feeders have cut hay waste to almost nothing. Also keeps the horses busy but doesn't allow them to consume excessive amounts. Don't know about your Percheron but sometimes I think with mine one mouth full looks like an entire flake of hay!
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post #4 of 4 Old 12-15-2011, 07:42 PM
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I'm assuming he's got free choice grazing & the hay is just to supplement this? If not, you need to either give him free choice at it or dish it out little & often. Horses are built to have small amounts going through their stomach near constantly & problems such as ulcers and colic can result from them going hungry for too long.

Likewise, grain needs to be fed little & often - if fed at all. As horses don't cope well with high starch diets, and their digestion works predominently on bacteria in the hindgut, they won't get much goodness out of large &/or infrequent starchy meals, and this sort of diet/feeding regime can also cause hind gut acidosis, ulcers, colic, laminitis, etc. Therefore, while I think you can generally do better than feeding grain to horses anyway, starchy hard feeds need to be fed in small amounts over at least 3 meals daily.

So... If the horse is a good weight now, I'd just keep up the hay & feed a good nutritional supp. It is not bad for them to lose a bit over winter... particularly if they're likely to pack it on in spring - good for their metabolism to use up the fat stores. But if you don't think he'll do well on hay alone, or he's losing too much, my choice would be to add some lucerne/alfalfa and some (unsweetened) beet pulp or soy hulls for healthy weight gain.
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