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MyBoyPuck 08-19-2009 04:24 PM

Trying it the hay way!
 
I've had my TB for 2 years. He's your typical hard keeper. I've posted on here several times asking for suggestions and some of you have strongly recommended free choice hay and little to no grain. I previously didn't have much choice on how much hay was fed, so I was trying to supplement the forage portion of his diet with beet pulp, rice bran, hay cubes, fat supplements, flax, oil, you name it. Despite stuffing his face with pounds and pounds of that stuff, he's still ribby.

Sooooo, forward shift to today. My BO and I are trying an experiement. We got him a big freshly cut round bale yesterday. He's been standing next to it eating all day like a kid left behind in a candy store. I'm really hoping that you free choice folks are right and he starts packing on weight. I took a pic today and will post our progress to see once and for all if this is really the answer for hard keepers.

MIEventer 08-19-2009 06:06 PM

Nelson is a hard keeper too, even though teeth are done and is wormed on a regular basis.

I am going to be putting him on Tripple Crown Senior and I just put him on Ultimate Finish 100. So we'll see how that works.

I hope your strategy works out!

PaintHorseMares 08-19-2009 07:42 PM

Hope it works out for you and your horse.
Our mares have always been on free choice hay and they're all stocky...and they will eat through a bale of high quality hay like it's candy, too.
Make sure you give it some time, though, as putting on weight takes a lot longer than losing it, and it's often hard to judge change when you see them everyday.

luvs2ride1979 08-20-2009 07:39 AM

Good deal! Don't forget that he still needs quality amino acids and vitamins/miners to put on weight too. My hard keeper gets one 3qt scoop of Alfalfa pellets every day, along with his vitamins and flax. He's no longer a hard keeper ;-).

MyBoyPuck 08-20-2009 06:10 PM

I figure I'll keep his weight gain supplement going. It has all the amino acids, vitamins and protein he needs. He's still also on his full grain ration until we feel safe to start dropping it. Not sure how to tell when it's safe to do that. Today was day 2 of the experiment. He's burrrowed a hole into the middle of the bale and it eating constantly. He just comes up once in awhile for air. It's really funny. Ideally I'd love to get to where it's just hay, his supplement and just a little grain so he doesn't kill himself when he sees the other horses getting theirs. I'm not sure if that is realistic, but I guess I'll find out.

MIEventer 08-20-2009 06:59 PM

Don't forget though, that the more athletic your horse becomes, the more increase in grain he'll need. Yes hay is important, but so is protein, energy and all the other good things grain offers competative horses.

MyBoyPuck 08-20-2009 07:14 PM

Well the idea behind this is that many people have pointed out that grain is supposedly the reason that TB's become hard keepers. The logic is that is fires up their motabolism and they burn off calories just breathing. Switching to a mostly hay diet slows things down and keeps them more steadily consuming calories. I tried it the grain and supplement way for 2 years with no luck. Now it's time to try something different. If he doesn't gain weight with the way he's currently pigging out, then he's either just built like that or something's wrong with the way his body absorbs food. I'll take lots of pics and post once I have concrete results.

luvs2ride1979 08-20-2009 11:08 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by MyBoyPuck (Post 383816)
I figure I'll keep his weight gain supplement going. It has all the amino acids, vitamins and protein he needs. He's still also on his full grain ration until we feel safe to start dropping it. Not sure how to tell when it's safe to do that. Today was day 2 of the experiment. He's burrrowed a hole into the middle of the bale and it eating constantly. He just comes up once in awhile for air. It's really funny. Ideally I'd love to get to where it's just hay, his supplement and just a little grain so he doesn't kill himself when he sees the other horses getting theirs. I'm not sure if that is realistic, but I guess I'll find out.

You'll be suprised, when you do finally start cutting back on his grain, he'll start gaining more weight! He may drop a little at first, but if you cut him back to just 1/2 scoop (2-3 measuring cups) along with his vitamins, he'll start picking up weight better. I like to mix some alfalfa in their diet (cubes, pellets, or hay) for more calories and quality protein. It really seems to help the hard keepers.

Take photos every 2 weeks and use a weight tape every week, on the same day, at the same time of day, and on the same place around his barrel. After 60 days, you can evaluate his progress to see if anything needs to be changed.

Also, if he's the only one eating on the hay, make sure it's covered or tarped when it starts raining more than ocassionally. One horse won't eat it fast enough to prevent mold.

luvs2ride1979 08-20-2009 11:12 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by MIEventer (Post 383852)
Don't forget though, that the more athletic your horse becomes, the more increase in grain he'll need. Yes hay is important, but so is protein, energy and all the other good things grain offers competative horses.

You can accomplish all of that with the right hay, hay pellets, fat supplements, and vitamins. A horse in competition on a forage based diet is less prone to ulcers, tying up, colic, and other stress-related problems. They also have a faster recovery rate and more even temperaments, at least IME.

While we didn't have any eventers at our last barn, we had plenty of horses who did hard work 3-5 days a week, for 2-5 hours a day. They kept their weight on nicely with NO grain, and had enough long-term energy to do what was asked of them. Only one young Fox Trotter gelding needed any grain to keep his weight on (he was still growing/developing and working), and his owner supplemented his diet with 3 lbs of whole oats a day. It worked like a charm!

luvs2ride1979 08-20-2009 11:16 PM

My "hard keeper" is no longer a hard keeper. He is a 10 yr old TBxArab gelding, 15.2h (very "TB" in build).

For maintenence (no work to light work) he gets:
Free choice grazing and hay
2 lbs of alfalfa pellets
1/2 cup of Flax meal
Vitamins (has probiotics/yeast in them)
1/2 cup of Apple Cider Vinegar (to combat flies and mix the powders)

During moderate work he gets:
Free choice grazing and hay
4 lbs of alfalfa pellets
1/2 cup of Flax meal
Vitamins (has probiotics/yeast in them)
1/2 cup of Apple Cider Vinegar (to combat flies and mix the powders)

During heavy work (or when we were putting weight on him) he gets:
Free choice grazing and hay
5 lbs of alfalfa pellets
1 lb of whole oats (he acts nutty on any more!)
1 cup of Flax meal
Vitamins (has probiotics/yeast in them)
1/2 cup of Apple Cider Vinegar (to combat flies and mix the powders)


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