Putting weight on my Arabian gelding
I need some advice/direction about feeding. I have a 5 yo Arabian gelding that is pasture boarded, currently I am only feeding him once a day due to my schedule. He gets 2# of pelleted feed with a half pound of alfalfa pellets and a pound of sweet feed...I am having a hard time putting weight on him.
Does anyone have a good way of getting weight on a horse when they are only fed once a day? Or would you recommend I figure out a way to feed him twice a day with the above ration.
First, what is the pasture like? Is he actually on good grazing pasture, or is it eaten down end of year stubble? If the latter, first step would be to add in hay, preferably all he can eat if you're trying to get weight on him as winter settles in.
Once he's getting all the forage he wants and can eat, then the other feeds (oats, beet pulp, rice bran, pelleted feeds, etc) start coming into play. Horses are graze feeders, so the more you can break up meals into smaller feedings, the better they will be digested and absorbed. The general rule of thumb is to never feed more than 5lbs of concentrate at one time, so if you up the amount of what you're feeding, it will certainly be best to break it into at least two or three feedings a day.
First, ditch the sweet feed. It's garbage, and full of nothing but empty calories.
Second, feeding him only once a day makes him more prone to colic, ulcers and gastric upset. Horses aren't meant to eat just one big meal a day. They're designed to graze and always have something in their stomachs.
You need to figure out a way to feed him at least twice a day and make sure he has hay the majority of the time, or at least some sort of grazing.
He needs less feed and more hay. Horses are herbivores and designed to graze on grasses, not get the majority of their nutrition from processed feed.
The alfalfa pellets are good, but the sweet feed has to go.
Assuming that the pasture is decent, it strikes me as odd that an Arab gelding isn't staying fat on that alone, in my experience they tend to be easy keepers.(Not to say that ALL Arabs are air-ferns of course). That being said, my first thoughts are worms and teeth. Has he been checked for worms and have his teeth been done recently?
If the pasture is not in decent shape, eaten down, bare etc, I would definitely be looking to provide free choice hay and ditching the sweet feed.
After the hay got baled he was given access to that pasture for grazing, so he's been grazing on that for the past month or so. He is UTD on all vet things, but it might not hurt to have him checked since I am at a complete loss as to why he isn't putting any weight on.
He went from being in a stall all day with limited turnout to pasture boarded four months ago and I'm shocked he's lost so much weight. What I've taken away from you guys so far is chuck the sweet feed, feed him twice a day, and maybe add beet pulp or oats and make sure he has access to hay. I might talk to the barn he's at and see if they would throw a round bale out in the field so he has access to that 24/7.
Thanks you guys!! I'm not used to high maintenance horses :)
add some beet pulp pellets, soaked, and flax. You can feed a lot of soaked beet pulp if necessary, its what we use to put weight on the off the track thoroughbreds. He went from little exercise to full turn out, I'm not surprised he lost some weight.
feeding more frequently is ideal, but if he has good quality grazing/hay available at all times, feeding the more concentrated feeds only once a day should be fine.
Good quality hay/pasture is the ONE thing that you indulge on your horses. Horses on pasture alone eat 8 small meals a day. Stalling them and feeding 2x/day OR stalling at night with 1 feeding disturbs the natural function of this grazing animal's digestive systems.
When I fed "Corporal" (1982-2009, RIP), who I bought as a 4yo and kept until he had a stroke at 27yo, I had to figure out how to keep weight on him bc, like MANY Arabs, he was a hard keeper. As a elderly horse I finally got the best recipe, with (in a stall) one flake or alfalfa + 2 flakes of grass (brohme) hay 2x/day AND free choice grass hay from the shelter when he wanted it. Additionally, he got 3 lbs of Purina Equine Senior 2x/day and THAT's how I kept him in good weight, though he was never over 5 on the Apgar scale.
All the Arabs I had/have were easy keepers, even later in life.
I might very well be that the change from stalled to pasture took a toll. So much to see and look out for. Plus pasture after getting the hay off isn't very much to eat. I would definitely offer free choice decent hay, roundbale or slowfeeder of any kind.
Checking his teeth, as has been mentioned, and deworming him for tapeworms would be feasable.
Is he by himself or does he have buddies? If he's alone he might be stressing, nobody to watch for him when he takes a nap. If he's with others he could be chased away from his feed.
I'm also for ditching the sweetfeed, there are better choices. A good vitamin/mineral supplement or a ration balancer and free choice hay should be all he needs unless he's working really hard.
Oh, and I'd take a hardkeeper over an easy keeper any day.....much easier to add than to take away;-)
Hard keepers always bring the comment, "Why don't you feed your horses?!?!?"
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