Feeding a Horse back from Malnutrition - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 15 Old 01-27-2020, 04:07 PM Thread Starter
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Feeding a Horse back from Malnutrition

I am picking up a new horse on Friday and have heard she may be in rough shape. There is a hay shortage where she is being kept and am curious as where to start and what to start her on when i get her here. She has been eating shredded straw and hay mix, with maybe some grain (unsure of what kind), she is under weight and wormy. I have ordered a Panacur powerpac for her to start her on for worms but am unsure of what sort of supplements and grains i should be putting her on and how much? Would Probiotics be good for her to start? Thank you for your time and look forward to hearing what people have to offer.

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post #2 of 15 Old 01-27-2020, 05:18 PM Thread Starter
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Quick change to post, should read...
I am picking up a new horse on Friday and have heard she may be underweight. There is a hay shortage where she is being kept and am curious as where to start and what to start her on when i get her here. She has been eating shredded straw and hay mix, with maybe some grain (unsure of what kind), she is under weight and could possibly have worms. I have ordered a Panacur powerpac for her to maybe start her on for worms depending on her condition but am unsure of what sort of supplements and grains i should be putting her on and how much? Would Probiotics be good for her to start? Thank you for your time and look forward to hearing what people have to offer.

Thanks
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post #3 of 15 Old 01-27-2020, 05:26 PM
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Be careful what you give her at first. I mean supplements, hay... whatever... ANY of that can make her gravely ill right now if she's bad off. How bad is she? Do you have any pictures?

Depending on how bad she is... she should probably get nothing but water and hay, in small amounts several time a day. I wouldn't start her on any rich hay either (First cuttings, alfalfa, etc). Her gut flora is going to be crappy, and she will be prone to gorging and that could lead to colic or foundering. You may also have food aggression to deal with - sometimes a starved horse (or dog) never gets over that and will be 'grabby' or especially greedy for the rest of their lives. If she's a body condition low 2 or less, I would have a vet on board the moment she got to my place.... because she may not even be healthy enough to be wormed. IDK. I'd want a vet's opinion immediately.

If she's just kinda ribby and needing some groceries on her, but not emaciated (mid-2/3 Body Condition - see chart below), I'd start with hay (Not straw - straw is for bedding!) for the first week or two, then gradually introduce a good quality pelleted senior feed (Yes, I know, probably not a senior horse but it's easy on their stomach, easy to chew, has a good nutritional content) (NOT GRAIN!) in small quantities along with increasing the hay. You can introduce a free choice horse formulated 'protein' bucket to help pack on the pounds and nutrition too - I keep one out for our senior horse who sometimes hovers between a 2 and a 3, and I have a couple of friends who have worked with local law enforcement and have fostered horses who were taken out of abusive homes and were malnourished. They swear by these tubs and so do I. Once you're out of the woods on any health or behavioral blow back from too long without regular meals, you can introduce rice bran (fat) into the diet. I would be sure to provide horse mineral and salts, free choice... and work your way up to letting the horse free choice hay all day, every day with feedings of the senior feed and rice bran twice a day,. Maybe even some fine gauge alfalfa pellets (But introduce them gradually - too much too soon and you'll have a horse with the drizzling poops). I'd go ahead and worm her as you plan to. Once she's in the clear as far as weight goes, you can gradually shift her to a non-senior feed. Keep out free choice hay if the weather is cold right now or the grazing isn't great where you live in the spring/summer/autumn.

For a truly emaciated horse, at a body condition 1, I strongly recommend you consult an equine vet and follow their directions before you worm them or try to fatten them back up yourself. The organs can be damaged, you could have all kinds of issues that you might not consider right off. Better to err on the side of caution when dealing with a low weight horse.... even Superman, our own senior horse, when he dropped a shocking amount of weight two summers ago? We sought the advice of our equine vet, just to be safe.
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Last edited by AtokaGhosthorse; 01-27-2020 at 05:31 PM.
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post #4 of 15 Old 01-27-2020, 05:40 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AtokaGhosthorse View Post
Be careful what you give her at first. I mean supplements, hay... whatever... ANY of that can make her gravely ill right now if she's bad off. How bad is she? Do you have any pictures?

Depending on how bad she is... she should probably get nothing but water and hay, in small amounts several time a day. I wouldn't start her on any rich hay either (First cuttings, alfalfa, etc). Her gut flora is going to be crappy, and she will be prone to gorging and that could lead to colic or foundering. You may also have food aggression to deal with - sometimes a starved horse (or dog) never gets over that and will be 'grabby' or especially greedy for the rest of their lives. If she's a body condition low 2 or less, I would have a vet on board the moment she got to my place.... because she may not even be healthy enough to be wormed. IDK. I'd want a vet's opinion immediately.

If she's just kinda ribby and needing some groceries on her, but not emaciated (mid-2/3 Body Condition - see chart below), I'd start with hay (Not straw - straw is for bedding!) for the first week or two, then gradually introduce a good quality pelleted senior feed (Yes, I know, probably not a senior horse but it's easy on their stomach, easy to chew, has a good nutritional content) (NOT GRAIN!) in small quantities along with increasing the hay. You can introduce a free choice horse formulated 'protein' bucket to help pack on the pounds and nutrition too - I keep one out for our senior horse who sometimes hovers between a 2 and a 3, and I have a couple of friends who have worked with local law enforcement and have fostered horses who were taken out of abusive homes and were malnourished. They swear by these tubs and so do I. Once you're out of the woods on any health or behavioral blow back from too long without regular meals, you can introduce rice bran (fat) into the diet. I would be sure to provide horse mineral and salts, free choice... and work your way up to letting the horse free choice hay all day, every day with feedings of the senior feed and rice bran twice a day,. Maybe even some fine gauge alfalfa pellets (But introduce them gradually - too much too soon and you'll have a horse with the drizzling poops). I'd go ahead and worm her as you plan to. Once she's in the clear as far as weight goes, you can gradually shift her to a non-senior feed. Keep out free choice hay if the weather is cold right now or the grazing isn't great where you live in the spring/summer/autumn.

For a truly emaciated horse, at a body condition 1, I strongly recommend you consult an equine vet and follow their directions before you worm them or try to fatten them back up yourself. The organs can be damaged, you could have all kinds of issues that you might not consider right off. Better to err on the side of caution when dealing with a low weight horse.... even Superman, our own senior horse, when he dropped a shocking amount of weight two summers ago? We sought the advice of our equine vet, just to be safe.
I believe she will be closer to a four

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post #5 of 15 Old 01-27-2020, 05:50 PM
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But you don't know for sure how bad she is or have any pictures?

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post #6 of 15 Old 01-27-2020, 06:04 PM Thread Starter
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No i won't know forsure until i go pick her up.

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post #7 of 15 Old 01-27-2020, 06:33 PM
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If a BSC of 4 not considered malnourished maybe a bit lean. If worming history is unknown have a fecal done then worm as advised by vet.

Don't worm horse till a fecal is done,or you risk killing horse. With a massive worm kill. Vet can advise on how and what to worm with, according to fecal results. Or take your chances an worm it first but don't say you weren't warned..

My horse is a BSC of 4 hardly malnourished. Well fed cared for just no extra fat on him.

Pictures would help it's all just going on what you have told here.

Out riding my horse.
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post #8 of 15 Old 01-27-2020, 06:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scottie12 View Post
No i won't know forsure until i go pick her up.

Yeah a four ain't nothing some groceries won't fix. When you said malnourished, I conjured up some horror stories in my head.


Check with the vet on the worm load since you don't know if or when she was wormed last. I agree with Rambo there. Hay, 24/7. I'd still start with the senior feed and no grain, work your way up to a regular amount to feed her, then slowly switch her to a regular, good quality horse feed. Get her a tub like I gave you the link to - they can't eat it super fast because it's hard - they have to lick it like a lollypop. Don't be alarmed if she gets sticky feed tub goo all up and down her face. Mine are like toddlers with candy - it gets everywhere on their faces.


Get her some alfalfa pellets, some rice bran, and just start small with anything other than hay and work your way up over the next couple of weeks after she arrives.


I'd still get your vet on board since you're not familiar with this horse personally. She seems to be coming from something of a rough situation, so I'd want her checked out immediately and hopefully the vet can head off any problems, if there be any, before they get out of hand.


You also realize now that you've asked for advice, we're going to invoice you for our opinions, right?

We accept pictures of the pony in question as payment.
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post #9 of 15 Old 01-28-2020, 10:29 AM Thread Starter
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Okay, thank you everyone for the advice, I will be picking up the filly this week and will be posting pictures and updates on her condition. Vets are hard to come by where i am from so I may have to send away a fecal sample and get it tested. I will be able to assess the situation a bit better once i get an eye on her.

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post #10 of 15 Old 01-28-2020, 10:43 AM
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Not trying to argue with previous posters. Another perspective: When some friends and I rescued a couple of starved horses (2 and 3 BCS), we were advised by the vet to feed free choice alfalfa. This agrees with studies I have read.
Quote:
Alfalfa’s relatively low starch content did not cause a steep rise in insulin, a reaction that can contribute to kidney, heart, and respiratory failure in horses without sufficient electrolyte stores... alfalfa hay was judged superior for initial feedings because it provided a better range of nutrients in addition to calories.
https://ker.com/equinews/refeeding-starved-horse/
My advice would be free choice alfalfa, and I agree that worming and adding probiotics would be good also. After several weeks, you can see how much weight the horse has gained and once the horse is healthier you can switch over to a good quality grass hay, and then add vitamins and other things as needed.
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