Is my filly skinny? Or is she just a typical growing filly?
Okay, I know I came on here looking for feed advice, and I think I've found what works, but I have yet to really get it. My 3 y/o QH filly, Ginger, is so hard to keep weight on. Sometimes a nice, green, open pasture makes her fat as a tick, and other times it isn't enough. I've had her on multiple different feeds, high fat, high protein, high and balanced everything, etc etc, and her weight still fluctuates.
I don't have an adequate pasture at home, however, and I will be re-seeding it so that it can start growing properly. So, until my pasture looks like a big green sea of grass-heaven, Ginger has to be on hay. And the pasture I usually rent out is taken for the summer, so hay is all I've got.
I was told by my vet to buy some high-protein hay that has some sort of grain in it, like barley, wheat grass, or rye grass. I found some nice rye grass/blue stem mixed round bales that were high in protein. This has put on some weight, and has given her that oh-so-attractive hay belly, but she just doesn't look right to me.
I also read about the benefits of BOSS seeds, and have started gradually adding about a pound of those into her diet. She is also on a pound of Nutrena's Empower Balance grass ration balancer a day. This might not sound like enough for her, but I am slowly increasing the amounts. She is 14HH and approx. 950-1000 lbs. With this she also has 24/7 access to mineral and regular salt. My vet said this is balanced, but is there anything I'm missing? She is UTD on everything.
Here are some pictures. It shows her from when I first got her a year ago and recently.
I might add that she was bone skinny when I first got her, so her growth has been stunted A LOT. Her sire and dam were nearly 16HH, and she is just a smidgen over 14HH.
First picture is after I had her for just a week, and she put on a good amount of weight.
Second picture was after I had her for two months. She started getting some fat and muscle.
Third and fourth pictures were taken last week, a year since I had gotten her. She has grown very little, and sometimes even loses weight with no cause. But she looks fat, however her ribs are still visible. Is this normal?
Thanks for any input! Ya'll are GREAT!
LOL, 27 views and no replies?! I'm bored at work and would love to have some replies on this! (:
Those ribs with the belly would bother me. How has she been dewormed? If she had a lot of parasites when you got her it would take a lot more than regular dewormer.
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Do you not feed any grain?? Not sure what boss is but I don't think it is grain. And your hay doesn't look very nutritous. So add some safe choice or something like that. A young horse needs more than just hay. Do you also have mineral and salk blocks? And yes a good worming program
you need to grain growing foals.. however with that said...MOST of my foals go through really quick growth spurts and will get that thin for 2-4 weeks until they stop and start packing back on lbs. Animals grow in bone and muscle and fat comes last
As far as seeing ribs on a three year old - yes it does happen.
How have the heat and bugs been? A horse can lose water weight and walk/stomp off weight easily in the summer.
Yes, she is skinny and an unhealthy weight.
The four photos show a progressive loss of weight and condition. The second photo is not an unhealthy weight, but is pretty typical for a young horse in the middle of a growth spurt. The third and fourth photo are cause for concern.
I think you need to recalibrate your eye and gain a better understanding of weight and condition. A good place to start is by understanding body score.
The University of Maine - Cooperative Extension Publications - Bulletin #1010, Body Condition Scoring for Your Horse
In the third photo, her entire backbone protrudes, and there are hollows both in front of and behind the wither. Compare that to the first photo, where the backbone is not at all visible, and there is flesh filling in the space behind the shoulder blade.
According to the body scale, the first photo is a 5 - 5.5, the second photo is a 4.5 - 5, the third photo is a 3 - 4, and the fourth photo is a 4.
The good news is that she is coming back from the condition in the third photo. The bad news that you're having trouble evaluating what you see accurately.
In the second photo, she has not *gained* fat and muscle, she has lost both fat and muscle, but it is within the range of normal if she also was having a growth spurt at the same time. If she did not have a growth spurt within that two month period, she just flat wasn't geting enough nutrition to maintain her weight, let alone grow.
In the third and fourth photos, there is absolutely nothing about her that "looks fat." There is nothing wrong with a growing youngster having a slight shadow of ribs, as in the second photo, but only if otherwise flesh and condition are good, which they are not in the third and fourth photo.
I would be having a serious conversation with an experienced horse person or vet and re-evaluate your feeding program.
OP, It sounds like you just have one of those "hard keepers". Free choice hay and the feeds you state are quite the norm, and for another horse, would have them slick and fat. Yours is just not as thrifty with her feed usage.
I have always had good luck with BOSS and Calf Manna for helping keep weight on the less thrifty ones.
Other than being a bit thin, she looks plenty healthy, and cute too boot!! :-)
Perhaps find a youngstock feed for her and provide mineral blocks in her field. Never heard of BOSS, but a youngstock feed should have all the nutrients in the right proportions for her needs. Like others have said, makes sure she doesn't have a belly of worms (I'd do a feacal worm egg count before worming so you know if it was worms or not). If you don't feel your hay is doing a good enough job, I would also find a 'forage replacer', like a chaff (We have dengie Hi-Fi Original - Dengie Horse Feeds in UK, but I guess you have equivalent companies!), and use that as a base for the bucket feed. Horses are designed to process fiber and do very well on it
I have seen some real scraggly skinny youngsters that make me think '!!' and then 6 months later, they've suddenly bulked out into very handsome looking, fit animals just entering their prime. Youngsters do go through growth spurts and some look terrible, then they fill out once they've just about finished growing and look fit and healthy and rareing to go- kinda like teenage lads going from bones to hulk in a few months!!
I don't see a 1000 lb horse in those photos. I see maybe an 800 or 750 lb horse, without a scale it would be hard to be very accurate.
Rather than buy the Empower and BOSS, I'd buy something like Safechoice or Strategy or even Ultium for her.
First, I'd take a fecal sample to the vet to check for parasites, just because that's a good place to start. If needed I'd give her a de-worming and then concentrate on feeding her up.
I like to use Strategy and Ultium for weight gain and I've had good luck with Omolene 400 & Ultium as well. Feed for where you want her to be, so if you want 950 lbs, then feed her that amount and she will gain. It will take time, especially if she starts growing to make up for the lack in her earlier life.
She's thin now and in the first pic I still would have liked to see her rounder. She has lost weight and condition since then and needs about 200 lbs according to what I'm seeing in the pics.
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