How To Help Your Horse Gain Weight?

Hi, I’m Jack from Slowfeednets. A fairly common question asked by horse owners is how do I put weight on a thin horse. The simplest response is often to either switch to a higher calorie feed or just increase the total amount feed to the horse. Are these answers reasonable?

So today I’m going to show you exactly top tips for helping you identify what to change in your horse’s diet to achieve better weight gain in the healthiest way without costing an arm and a leg.

Ask yourself a question

A horse owners’ first step should be to determine exactly why the horse is not maintaining an appropriate body weight and condition. So my first question for the horse owner would be: is your horse receiving the right amount of daily feed and forage to support body weight and condition.

A ration evaluation to compare daily calorie intake to the calories needed for maintenance and workload will help to answer that question.

If the horse is receiving adequate calories:

If the answer is yes and the horse is receiving adequate calories, your next step would be to contact your veterinarian to perform a health exam.                                                                                                                There are several medical conditions that would lead to a horse being underweight, as following shows:       

  • disease or injury
  • poor dental condition
  • parasite infestation
  • a change in nutrient requirements

Due to age or a medical condition, it results in impaired digestive function such as ulcers, inflammatory bowel disease or absorption dysfunction. Therefore, addressing any underlying health issue may be all that’s necessary to help your horse regain lost body condition.

If the horse just needs more calories:

If the answer is no and your horse just needs more calories to reach the desired body weight and condition then you need to make a change in your feeding program.

There are a few points to consider in designing a weight gain diet.

  1. evaluate your feed
  • choose the amount, quality and appropriate product to fit the situation
  • weigh the amount fed, both feed and hay with a scale
  • compare to the feeding recommendations on the bag or the tag

You may need to choose a different feed that would be a better fit for that particular situation.

      2. determine lifestyle

  • the age and activity level of the horse compared to feeding recommendations

In general, feeding two to four pounds of extra feed per day will support weight gain of one-half to one pound per day, which is a good moderate rate of weight gain.

      3. examine the amount and quality of hay

  • at least one pound of hay per hundred pounds of body weight per day, or about ten pounds for a thousand pound horse, but you may very well need to feed more hay than that.

The quality of the hay will greatly affect the calories that it provides to the horse. Higher-quality hay will provide more calories as well as other nutrients.

Weight gain and timeframe

The approach you take to help a horse gain weight depends on how much weight he needs to gain and what timeframe you have to accomplish the desired results. The more weight needed, and the shorter the time frame, the more aggressive the effort needs to be.

  • Gaining a relatively small amount of weight, 25 pounds or less, can often be achieved in 60 days by increasing feed intake by 2 to 3 pounds per day.
  • Gaining 45 pounds or more in that same period can require substantial increases in feed intake.          It’s important to remember that a safe rule of thumb is to feed no more than 5 to 6 pounds of grain per meal to an average thousand pound horse. So if you’re at the point of increasing feed intake by 5 to 6 per day to support more or faster weight gain, you should add an additional meal each day, or consider changing to a higher calorie feed. A more calorie dense feed will provide the needed calories in a more reasonable amount of feed.

Healthy weight gain is achieved not only through calories but also from providing a diet complete with essential amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. All these nutrients play a role in hair coat,muscle tone, hook quality and overall appearance and health.

Now I’d like to hear from you.

Do you think this blog is helpful to you?

Are there any questions about feeding your horses in a healthy way?

Let me know by leaving a comment below right now.

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