Weight gain for growing but working horse - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 5 Old 08-20-2011, 09:39 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Central TX
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• Horses: 5
Weight gain for growing but working horse

So I am looking for some advice on a complete feeding change for my mare. She is a 4yo QH that is 16'1hh that is built like a Tb and is about a 4 -5 on the body condition scale. She is being brought up as a hunter, and her work load has been increasing over this summer. She is at a boarding barn, but I have decided to take complete control over what she is being fed. She has always been a little thinner than I would like, but it's worrying me because between last weekend and this weekend when we went down to the trainers my trainer could see where she had lost weight, and another person who hadn't seen her in a while also commented that she looks thinner. I am sure the horrifically hot weather in TX is not helping, plus I don't think she is getting enough calories for her size, workload, and growth.

Right now, she is on a locally made feed that is 14% protein, 6% fat, and 10% fiber. The amount is about 2.5 quarts twice a day. She gets one flake of a grass type of hay in the morning, two at night. In the evening, I feed her a mixture of beet pulp and alfalfa pellets soaked afterwards, 3 quarts beet pulp, 1 quart alfalfa pellets. She is on one supplement for ulcer prevention (never truely diagnosed, she just had a few stomach aches and was moody, was started on this and knock on wood hasn't had a problem since - Ulc-R-Aid by Animed).

I am in TX and hay is becoming in very, very short supply and I am worried about the barn running out. It is running at $10 a bale right now for grass hay, so it is hard to feed large amounts of hay, which is what I would love to do. I am trying to stock up on a personal supply of hay, but I really can't increase the amount so I am looking at other options for weight gain.

The brand options I have are:
Triple Crown
Total Equine
Producer's Pride
Country Acres

I have used Strategy effectively in the past when I had my horses at home. My trainer is using Safe and Sound by Acco currently, while another friend has switched from the feed my mare is currently on to Total Equine with a good improvement. I am open to mixing some of my own feed if I can find the info on how to mix it currently. Options I have to do this easily are the beet pulp, alfalfa pellets, timmothy pellets, cracked corn, rolled and steamed oats, stabilized rice bran.

I have just started looking at basic analysis (not nutrients, just protein, fat, and fiber). I am thinking that I want to keep her at about 14% protein as she is still growing and building muscle, increase the fat, and increase the fiber if possible. Here are some that I am interested in, including the ones I/trainer/friend have some experience with.

Safe and Sound - 14/7/15
Strategy - 14/6/12.5
Total Equine - 15/5/20
Ultium Comp - 11.7/12.4/18.5
Ultium Growth - 15.5/9.5/13
Triple Crown Growth/Senior - 14/10/17
Triple Crown Training - 13/13/13
Triple Crown Performance - 14/10/6.5
Nutrena Safe Choice - 14/7/15

What ideas do you guys have? Any resources that you guys know about that is good to read up on equine nutrition? I have a good basic knowledge of human nutrition, but not equine. Sorry this is so long, I know I can be long winded and nerdy at times. And thanks for the help in advance.
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post #2 of 5 Old 08-20-2011, 10:33 PM
Join Date: Feb 2011
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Start by getting a better handle on what she is currently eating. How many # of hay? Big difference between 2 and 3 string bales. How much dry BP, dry AP...

The heat can be brutal on horses and they'll drop weight and loose their appetite. Because the fermentation process of fiber creats heat, you might be better to look at lower fiber feeds for the summer months. High fiber feeds also tend to be lower in calories.
Left Hand Percherons is offline  
post #3 of 5 Old 08-21-2011, 09:42 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Central TX
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A little more info. The locally processed food she is on she is getting four pounds a day. For her estimated weight, they recommend between 5 and 15 pounds a day total plus hay. The hay she is on is Tifton, the flakes unfortunately vary too much to really say how much she is getting in weight, but they are not very heavy. For her third feeding at night, she is getting 1lb of alfalfa pellets and 1lb of beet pulp dry.
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post #4 of 5 Old 08-21-2011, 10:28 PM
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Arizona
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I just wanted to mention that hay in Arizona is currently around $16 a bale (100 lb bales). So it could always be worse!

The only good thing about living in Arizona and feeding alfalfa is the horses stay fat on small amounts of it (2 flakes a day for an easy keeper).

Maybe you try increasing the alfalfa a bit? It's also high in protein which is good for growing horses.
trailhorserider is offline  
post #5 of 5 Old 08-22-2011, 12:44 AM
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3 average flakes of grass from a 2 string bale are only going to be 7 1/2 to 10# of hay per day. Add the BP and AP, that's 9 1/2 to 12# of forage a day. In terms of calories, they're roughly 1 Mcal/# or 12 Mcals on the high side. Add the feed at 1.4 Mcal/# for 5.6 Mcal. Add the 2 for 17.6 Mcals. A growing moderaly worked horse her size needs about 24 Mcals/day. Add the stress of the heat and she's being under fed (just in calories) by about 1/3. That would be satisfied by another 3 flakes of hay, 8#s of BP or AP (dry), 5-6# more concentrates, 4 C oil or some combination of all of them. Upping the BP and AP meal to 2-3# each with 1 C oil and a few #s concentrates to make them intersting would be a simple addition.

So the next question is what are you paying for in your boarding agreement? Are they cutting corners and not feeding enough hay because it's scarce and pricey? Obviously they need to be compensated if their costs have doubled and it needs to be passed on to the boarders. There has to be an action plan to bridge the gap between what they offer and what they need. At $10 for a 60# ss, you're right on the bubble of BP and AP costing the same as hay. I suspect AP will go up slightly and as soon as the sugar beet crop is harvested you will see it drop.

All the concentrates are running close to $20/50# bag. That's really expensive calories. I would play around with upping the hay, adding BP, AP, soy beans (for extra protein and fat) and oil (rice bran is expensive for what it offers) before changing and upping the grain. You can save a considerable amount of $$ if you buy BP and AP directly from the mill in bulk. Some mills will let you buy as little as 500# while others require a minimum of 1T.
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