Yearling won't eat - The Horse Forum
  • 6 Post By Acadianartist
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post #1 of 10 Old 07-12-2020, 05:05 PM Thread Starter
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Yearling won't eat

So, I'm wondering if anyone might have any tips/tricks/advice. I just purchased a 13 month old/yearling Gypsian filly. I'm struggling to get her to eat anything other than hay.
She's refused everything offered - a few different types of grain, fibre max, apples, carrots, among other things. Unfortunately, she was weaned at 3 months so my thought is that she may not have learned to eat anything other than hay/grass, as they often learn that from mom. I'm wanting to be able to get some good, healthy nutrition into her in grain form and she is not having it. I've got her on a mix of good quality orchard grass hay, and a timothy-grass mix. She's also getting out to graze as much as possible, but my grass here is limited. Any advice?!
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post #2 of 10 Old 07-12-2020, 05:38 PM
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Oh no, poor little love! Have you tried offering a Mare & Foal type grain, I'm just wondering if that may be a bit more palatable. Has a Veterinarian had a look? Seems odd that she won't eat tasty things. Does she have a robust appetite?
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post #3 of 10 Old 07-12-2020, 05:41 PM
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Be patient. When did you get her? It can take a while. A lot of horses -- most, probably -- won't touch new food if they've never had it before. My mare wouldn't even take an apple or a carrot from me when I first got her. Keep offering. A little bit every day is all you need to give. Once the horse has a taste, they will come back for more and you can increase it gradually.

My Appy turned up his nose at soaked timothy cubes and beet pulp for a week or two, then dove right in. He's the biggest pig in the barn now.

Small quantities every day until they try it. Make sure it is given in a clean feed pan - dump out the old stuff daily (that's why you only give a little), rinse and offer more. Do it at the same time every day. If the other horses get fed hard food once or twice a day, give your horse a handful at the same time. Eventually, they'll figure out this is mealtime.

I am also of the opinion that horses don't need grain. What they do need is a balance of vitamins and minerals which can be added in either in the form of a ration balancer, or powder that is added to wet hay cubes and/or beet pulp. Ideally, you start with a hay analysis, then add in what is missing. Keep in mind that some areas have high iron, others have selenium or selenium defiency. It's important to know these things so you don't get iron overload or selenium toxicity. That's why I don't like complete feeds - they're a one-size fits all option. Sorry, I know that wasn't your question, just my two cents.

What is this horse's physical condition? Does it need calories or just vitamins and minerals?
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post #4 of 10 Old 07-12-2020, 06:25 PM
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If she looks good then I'd let it be. She doesn't need more than mentioned above. Forage first.
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post #5 of 10 Old 07-12-2020, 06:57 PM Thread Starter
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She's only been home since Friday night, but I noticed even at the place we picked her up from, she wouldn't touch anything other than hay or grass, so I don't think it has much to do with the move. The vet has not yet had a look at her, but he'll be out this week to vaccinate and microchip her, so I'll definitely be asking him for his opinion at that point.

I have been offering small bits when I feed the other horses, even sprinkled it on her hay and she just eats around it.

She definitely needs more than just hay and grass right now. She's got a big grass belly (she's been dewormed, so no worries there), and over her ribs she has very little cover. She's not REALLY skinny, but she definitely needs extra calories. She has 24/7 access to a salt/mineral block, which she also hasn't touched. I don't even so much care if she eats the grain, but if she'd take some fibre max or beet pulp so I could mix in the vitamin/mineral supplement that I feed all my horses, I'd be thrilled. At this point, it's all a no-go though.

The hay has been tested and it's good quality but I would feel better if she was eating some sort of grain/soaked feed. She's growing and I want to make sure we do this right. She has a great appetite for her hay, and she's grazing well.. Just refuses to touch anything else. I've never had a horse flat out refuse feed before so this is just so weird to me, and I've raised a lot of foals.
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post #6 of 10 Old 07-13-2020, 06:56 AM
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Sounds like you're doing everything right.

If it were me, I'd keep offering treats until I found something she likes. Then I'd start adding some of the feed to those treats until she gets used to the flavour. Will she eat hay cubes? What if you break them up into tiny bits? They're not that different from hay. I'd offer a few dry ones - she may not like the sloppy wet ones because the consistency is very weird to them at first. If you can convince her to eat something other than hay and grass, you can start adding other things.

I still think it takes time for a horse to settle in a new environment and trust their new owner. I understand she wasn't eating those things at her old place, but maybe they just didn't feed treats. My mare had no idea what I was doing when I offered her a carrot from my hand. She wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole. But after a few months, I was clicker-training her with treats and she absolutely loved those. She was always very polite and gentle, never nippy, but she knew when I had my treat pouch on that there would be treats and she'd be the first one by my side, trying to figure out how to earn them.
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post #7 of 10 Old 07-13-2020, 07:16 AM
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When I get a youngster that won’t eat, I get a textured mare and foal feed. Feed her where she see another horse eat the same thing. I try to put a small amount in their mouth so they taste it- they will probably spit it out afterwards. But then they can see their “mentor” horse eat grain and learn from them. Keep at it at least twice a day. It often takes a week or so of social watching. But the babies learn best from other herd mates.
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post #8 of 10 Old 07-15-2020, 06:10 AM
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Perhaps she has never eaten anything aside from hay & grass, so, just like kids who aren't introduced to different foods when very young, she just doesn't like to try different things.
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post #9 of 10 Old 07-15-2020, 09:11 AM
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My filly (who is four now) is the same way. I've never been a huge treat giver so she really doesn't know what they are and won't eat them. Whoever has heard of a horse that doesn't like peppermints or carrots? She won't eat anything that is new to her.

More than likely this is all it is as it sounds like your filly has a good appetite. Just keep offering it to her and let her taste it. Let her see other horses eating it.

Calories are just calories and that's it. It's a matter of whether the calories have stuff in it that's good for the body or not so good. Me eating an apple or nectarine would be a lot better than a candy bar or piece of pie obviously. If her hay and pasture have the required protein and vitamin/mineral content to sustain a growing horse then I wouldn't worry about it too much.
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post #10 of 10 Old 07-20-2020, 01:01 AM Thread Starter
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Well, I'm happy to report that I've finally got her eating the way I'd like. It took a few days but she decided to try the dry grain and I've been slowly introducing new things. She eats it pretty slowly and prefers her hay, but at least she's eating!
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