Rescue Horses: Time Frames on Weight Gain
I recently rescued a 14 year old, 16h TB back in October. He's around 200lbs underweight. His previous owner was only feeding him half a scoop 2x a day and he slowly deteriorated from a healthy weight to what he is now over a period of 6 months..
I have him on Nutrena LifeDesign Senior. Due to a vets recommendations he eats:
2 scoops breakfast with 1 cup of canola oil
1 scoop lunch
2 scoops dinner with 1 cup of canola oil
This amounts to around 10lbs a day.
As far as hay goes, he eats 2 flakes of T&A with breakfast and dinner, and 1 flake with lunch. He's pasture boarded, so he's grazing 24/7.
For anyone else with horses that are underweight or were rescues, what sort of time frame am I looking at to get him up to a normal weight?
When he is a normal weight, should I reduce his feed?
Any other tips when getting a horse up to a healthy weight and maintaining it?
If the photos are the pasture he is grazing on, I would not even factor that in to the equation as part of what he is being fed at this point as there really isn't much to it right now. Instead, I would up the hay to where he has free choice access to the hay - he needs good forage in his face 24/7. To me, that is the basis of any feed program that is meant to bring a horse back to good weight/condition.
At the very least, weigh the "flakes" you are feeding as flakes isn't really a good measure to use in a feed program where knowing what they are getting is som important - a 'flake' could be a couple of pounds or 10+ so a horse getting five flakes could be getting anywhere from 10-50 pounds of hay a day, quite a difference you see.
When was the last FEC done on him and what were the results? Has he been checked for ulcers? When were his teeth last floated?
We had an OTTB mare, a little bit older than yours, who was about 200 lbs underwight because of poor food and severe intestinal and stomache ulcers. It took her about four months to gain all of the necessary weight (especially because about 30 of the last pounds were needed in muscle, not fat) and maintain it. We have her free access to alfalfa/timothy hay and grazing, and she was eating almost a 40 lb bale daily. She was on 7 lbs Purina Senior at first but after she was diagnosed with the ulcers we removed about half of that and started feeding a pound of rice bran, aloe, slippery elm bark, Smartpaks, and salt.
I wouldn't reduce your horse's feed unless he starts looking like he's gaining weight too fast or is getting overweight after his ribs and spine are covered. Our mare still eats the same amount as when she was being rehabilitated, though she self-adjusted her hay intake to 25 lbs of hay daily. You'll just have to judge what to do based on his specific body metabolism.
To that in one month, 3lbs Nutrena Life Design Senior and FREE CHOICE oat/alfalfa mix hay
Oh that poor horse! Thank God you found him. If you go to YouTube and type in rescue horse before and after it is great motivation for your hard work that you will be putting in. You do need to slowly increase both grain and hay or he could colic. I started my mare on 2 flakes twice a day and we are now up to 4 flakes twice a day and ready for free choice after 2 weeks. Also went low on grain 1/4 cup once a day then twice a day and slowly increased to 2 pounds of safe choice but I need to go speak with progressive people and make the change to that product soon so don't know the exact answer on the grain, just taking it slowly. please note my horse was thin but no where as thin as yours.
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In my experience it'll take about 3 months from where he is to get to a normal weight if he's being fed appropriately. His hips and the fat pads behind his eyes will be the last area to fill in.
Once he's in better shape weight wise you may want to get him on an exercise program to help him rebuild muscle - when animals experience extreme weight loss their bodies often consume muscle to help them survive. Getting muscle tone back will go a long way towards improving his appearance.
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