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alexischristina 03-07-2013 07:47 PM

Weight Gain Help
 
Well, I was going to take the equine nutrition course but my current college got in the way so you guys might have to help me out a little bit. First I'll note that a vet has been consulted regarding physical issues, teeth, ulcers, etc. we've concluded as of right now that old lady is 'miss picky pants'.

She's 22 years old, but more of a 'senior' than any older horse I've ever owned. Unfortunately this winter has been super hard on her, and while we've tried everything we can to maintain her weight, after worming she dropped weight quickly, which was, to say the least, startling (I'll reiterate that we have spoken to a vet about teeth / her insides).

She's been getting free choice hay, beet pulp and Otter Co-op Equi-Cal pellets. She eats her pellets, but turns her nose up at the idea of beet pulp, munches on hay for awhile and then will wander off to graze the almost barren winter grass in the pasture -headdesk-. She seems happy, alert, content, but is just disinterested in her food. So enough is enough, missy is getting locked up morning and night, will have her free-choice hay in front of her, and we're going to have to look into her grain options (she will be pulled out during the day to graze on her own in the backyard, it's a couple acres that hasn't seen the mower in awhile, she'll be happy to graze that down).

SO a couple of questions:
I want to put her on hay cubes as well, see if that's something she 'likes', but I don't have much experience with them... Alfalfa isn't the best option for oldies, is it? What about Timothy cubes? Or a mixture of both?

I'll also look at different hay sources, see if she prefers something different.

And what about different brans? I'll definitely look into it myself, but what are your guys' preferences? Thoughts on wheat bran? Rice bran?

At this point I'm not above putting her on some high fat, junk food diet just to get her weight back up and then getting her 'fit' once that's levelled out. I've included the link to my current feed store, I'm honestly just... lost looking at all the different options.

Anybody else have a similar problem?

Vanderveen Hay Sales Ltd. - Hay, Pet Food and Supplies - Surrey, Langley, Vancouver, Burnaby, Richmond, Coquitlam, Abbotsford, White Rock

Rachel1786 03-07-2013 08:03 PM

My old guy has been impossible to get weight on these past 3 or so winters, last year it was so bad he still looked thin going into this winter, but I finally found a feed combination that works for him, total per day he gets 9lbs of triple crown senior(12 if I can fit in a 3rd meal) 3lbs alfalfa pellet, 2lbs rice bran and about a cup of beet pulp. He has access to free choice hay, but it's mostly there for the other horses as he has no teeth. I also put out a tub of a few lbs alfalfa cubes soaked( everything is soaked) but he's not usually very interested, one of the others usually end up eating those.

alexischristina 03-07-2013 08:07 PM

I'm thinking about picking up some alfalfa cubes or pellets, soaking those down and giving them to her, skipping the bran (looked it up, didn't like what I saw) and putting her on a mix of equi-cal and senior feed. Possibly some black oil sunflower seeds, I've heard good reports and an oil. Depending on what she 'likes'.

I've never seen a horse be so picky, we were worried about the other stealing her food but NOPE she just gives it to them.

Rachel1786 03-07-2013 08:18 PM

I love rice bran, and so do my horses. I believe that is one of the biggest helps with putting weight on him.
What did you see that you didn't like?

alexischristina 03-07-2013 09:05 PM

Few reports that it put weight on and too many reports that it did nothing to justify buying it. When you look into the purpose of a bran it makes sense to sweep the digestive system. Plus many reports that horses just didn't like it.
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alexischristina 03-10-2013 05:57 PM

I'm starting to think this is more than hard winter / hard keeper. Missy has been very listless, not interested in her feed. Will eat less than half of what we put out for her, leave her free choice hay in the morning and it's still there when we check in the afternoon, and when we feed at night. If I put her out in the back yard where there's lots of green grass she'll stand and graze, but she seems overall very down trodden. I was reading another thread regarding sudden weight loss and somebody mentioned tumours, given the circumstances and how quickly she lost all this weight I'm worried cancer might be the culprit. I'm going to have the vet back out this week, and continue offering her free choice hay, and giving her her grain.
She's a 22 year old gray, so it seems like the odds are against her.

(I know not many replied, but thought I'd update in case anyone has anything else to add).

RiverBelle 03-10-2013 06:31 PM

let us know how it goes!

alexischristina 03-10-2013 06:39 PM

I definitely will!
I'm not usually the type of person to jump to conclusions. But with this one I just have a 'feeling' with the way she's been acting, the weight loss, her age, etc.
They all lost a bit of weight this winter, we had a particularly bad year with worms but she looks like she's still losing, and she has absolutely NO appetite. Hoping for the best, but still wanting to get it checked out.

walkinthewalk 03-10-2013 10:27 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by alexischristina (Post 1927755)
Few reports that it put weight on and too many reports that it did nothing to justify buying it. When you look into the purpose of a bran it makes sense to sweep the digestive system. Plus many reports that horses just didn't like it.
Posted via Mobile Device

Huh!? Although only two of my horses are hard keepers, everyone of my horses would eat a bag of pelleted rice bran, if it was left sitting in front of them:shock:

I feed 20 ounces daily to both my hard keepers. One is 25 with Equine Metabolic Syndrome, the other will be 27 next month and loses weight horribly thru the winter.

That being said, I completely forgot about split peas until I read a really great dissertation directly from Dr. Eleanor Kellon's website.

Split peas ( like we put in soup) are great for metabolic horses with weight gain issues. I am not saying your horse has metabolic issues, I am saying split peas are safe to feed any horse that is a hard keeper because they a low in starches.

Since you took the time to research rice bran, I am thinking you will be interested in the entire copy/pasted article below:D:D I hope this helps:-)

This re-Quote Below is from one of Dr. Kellon's articles; the original poster could not get the link to post, so I don't have it as back up. It was directed at a person with a metabolic horse that is a hard keeper and the person is on a tight budget, so was looking for inexpensive ways to get weight on the horse. Having two metabolic horses, I am very familiar with Dr. Eleanor Kellon:

Quote:

This article is not specifically directed at IR/Cushings horses, as she does suggest oats for some horses, but take the applicable information for your horse as required.)

Horse Hay and Alternatives

Protein Boosters
When feeding straw or low protein, stockpiled hay, choose from the following to balance your horse's diet.

Soybean meal-2 oz. per pound of straw, 1.5 to 2 oz. per pound of low protein hay

Alfalfa hay, meal or cubes-6 oz. per pound of straw, 4 to 6 oz. per pound of low protein hay

Dried split peas*-4 oz. per pound of straw, 3 to 4 oz. per pound of low protein hay

Ground stabilized flaxseed meal**-4 oz. per pound of straw, 3 to 4 oz. per pound of low protein hay

Providing protein from several different sources is a good way to make sure the horse receives a variety of essential amino acids.

* Dried split peas are the same as the ones you can buy in the market for making pea soup, but in some areas of the country they may be available in bulk. Check with local mills that mix their own feeds. They are used in feeds for other livestock, and are a favorite in horse feeds in many parts of the world. Horses love them and they are a good low sugar, high fiber (25%) and high protein (25%) food.

** Flaxseed is also rich in essential fatty acids (omega-3 and omega-6) and in proportions closest to those in fresh grass. You can find products at www.omegafields.com and www.horsetech.com and can special order in bulk from Uckele Animal Health, www.uckele.com.

Unfavorable weather conditions can result in hay shortages, sending the cost of available hay through the roof. With gasoline prices so high, shipping in hay from areas of plenty may not be a viable option either. Shortages of good grass hay may be particularly severe since many grasses have a shorter growing season than, say, alfalfa. In some areas, grass meadows may yield only one cutting under the best of circumstances.

This calls for some creative changes in the way you feed. But before getting to some possibilities, there are two things that you should not do:
• Do not simply replace hay with more grain. The horse's metabolism and intestinal tract are designed to run on fiber, not grain. Hay is more than just roughage. It is food both for the beneficial organisms in the intestinal tract and for the horse's own body, and a natural source of precursors for vitamin A, D and K.
• Unless your fields are in good shape, do not allow for more pasture time to make up for less hay. If the fields are also in poor shape because of adverse weather, the horses will be driven to eat things they would normally avoid, including toxic plants.

Now, on to some alternatives:
• Grass hay pellets or cubes are simply hay that has been carefully dried, then cut and compressed. It can be fed as an alternative to loose hay. And because the hay is high quality, you can often feed less than you do of regular hay (up to 25% less). The drawback is cost and horses consume them much quicker than loose hay so may develop vices like wood chewing because they have too much time with nothing to do. Bagged loose, chopped forage is also available in many areas, often with a light coating of oil or molasses. Mineral balancing/supplementation will be needed just like it is with baled hay, unless you use one of the newer complete balanced hay-based products such as Ontario Dehy's Balanced Timothy Pellet (www.ontariodehy.com-widely available in the U.S.), Sterett Bros. Low Carb Complete Pelleted Feed (www.sterettbroshayandfeed.com-Pacific Northwest and California) or Triple Crown's Safe Starch (www.triplecrownfeed.com).

• Complete feeds or senior feeds are safer to substitute than straight grains, but they do still contain considerable grain in most cases. One with a fiber level of at least 18% and beet pulp in the formula will be the best. To determine the substitution rate, see the box "Converting Over to Complete Feeds" on page 14.

• Substitute alfalfa hay or alfalfa cubes, pellets or meal for a portion of your grass hay. A 75:25 mixture of alfalfa and wheat bran is well balanced for major minerals, and a pound of this substitutes for up to 2 pounds of average grass hay. In other words, you'll go from feeding 20 pounds of grass hay to feeding 10 pounds of grass hay along with 5 pounds of 75:25 alfalfa/wheat bran as a starting point. A 50-50 mixture of alfalfa and oats can also be used, is well balanced, and a pound of this also substitutes for about 2 pounds of grass hay.

Converting Over to Complete or Senior Feeds
If you plan to substitute a bagged complete or senior feed entirely for hay, begin by feeding 20%- 25% of the recommended amount, cutting hay by the same percentage. Increase by the same amount every three days until your horse is completely switched over to the complete feed. Check with your vet or nutritionist to see if any supplements are needed with the feed (such as vitamin E, selenium, or iodine).

If you are only going to replace part of your hay with a "complete" feed, first see what the recommended feeding amount is when it is used as the sole dietary component. Then compare this to how much hay you are feeding. For example, if the feed calls for 15 pounds per day for a horse the same size as yours, and you currently feed 20 pounds of hay, three-quarters of a pound of the complete feed will substitute for 1 pound of hay. If you want to cut your hay down to 10 pounds per day, substitute 7.5 pounds of the complete feed.

• Beet pulp can be fed as up to 40% of the ration and adds calories in the form of easily fermentable fibers rather than high sugar, starch or fat. Substitute at a rate of 1 pound of beet pulp for 1.5 to 2 pounds of hay because of its higher calorie content. Beet pulp is a nice complement for hays that tend to be low in calcium, with a low calcium to phosphorus ratio, like oat hay or orchardgrass. Otherwise, you should add a high phosphorus source to the beet pulp to avoid introducing mineral imbalances. A 50:50 mixture of plain oats and beet pulp works well. Or try an 80:20 mixture of beet pulp and wheat bran. Beet pulp also absorbs up to four times its weight in water, producing a very large and satisfying meal. (Not oats for IR/Cushings horses).

• Clean, sweet-smelling straw-although we don't usually think of it as a food-actually contains almost as many calories as an average grass hay. In a pinch, you can even replace hay entirely with straw, but you will need to feed more pounds of it in order for your horses to hold their weight. Straw is also lower in protein and minerals than hay, and particularly low in phosphorus. To correct this, feed one, or a blend of, the protein boosters from the list on page 12, and use a mineral supplement formulated to complement alfalfa hay such as Race VM from www.uckele.com or Select I from www.selectthebest.com.

As a final note, all feeding changes should be made gradually. Substitute no more than 20% of your horse's ration at a time, increasing the amount at three-day intervals to allow the gut to adapt.

walkinthewalk 03-10-2013 10:38 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by alexischristina (Post 1931542)
I'm starting to think this is more than hard winter / hard keeper. Missy has been very listless, not interested in her feed. Will eat less than half of what we put out for her, leave her free choice hay in the morning and it's still there when we check in the afternoon, and when we feed at night. If I put her out in the back yard where there's lots of green grass she'll stand and graze, but she seems overall very down trodden. I was reading another thread regarding sudden weight loss and somebody mentioned tumours, given the circumstances and how quickly she lost all this weight I'm worried cancer might be the culprit. I'm going to have the vet back out this week, and continue offering her free choice hay, and giving her her grain.
She's a 22 year old gray, so it seems like the odds are against her.

(I know not many replied, but thought I'd update in case anyone has anything else to add).

I just read this post.

Her age and symptoms also make her a prime candidate for metabolic issues.

You mentioned earlier she has been checked for ulcers? I think might spend the money on two weeks worth of Omeprazole from the vet and see what happens. If her appetite picks up in the first 48 hours, you will know you are dealing with ulcers.

I honestly also would not discount metabolic issues that could be insulin resistance, equine metabolic syndrome, or even the very early stages of cushings. Early stage cushings horses do not always show a rough coat.

I might consider getting some blood work done on her to check not only her insulin level but her cortisol level. Just don't let the vet do the Dex test for cortisol; it can bring on founder in some horses.

I am not discounting the tumors either. Strangulating lipomas in the hind gut might be an issue. My vet is suspicous of them in my 25 yr old with EMS but I would have to haul his arthritic self four hours to the nearest equine facility and I'm not doing that.

He gets Suceed every day and it's keeping things quiet so he can eat without colicking.

Feeding these older horses smaller portions, 3 - 4 times daily, if possible, really is a big help. I am thankful to be fully retired or I don't know how I would manage that one. I am mentioning it in case it's something you can do, once you get her appetite back in order:-)


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