QH mare is looking bony and a bit skinny... any ideas for helping put on some weight?

EmilyClick28

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We have a 4 year old QH mare who is looking pretty bony... you can't see her ribcage at all but her neck is kinda narrow and thin and what i'm mainly concerned about is that her hip bone and spine are very visible. her hindquarters and back area are overall looking pretty skinny. She is currently being fed 2 large flakes (about 4-6 inches thick) of grass/alfalfa/mix hay every day, and when we work her we feed her some sweet feed as kind of a treat, and occasionally a bit of corn, but that's about it. She does also have a salt and mineral block. Is there a supplement or type of grain that would be good to help her put on and mainly MAINTAIN a healthy weight? maybe some alfala pellets? beet pulp? oats? what would be reccommended?
 

Calendula

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Hello. I'm not entirely sure HOW much help I can be, but... I can throw out a little bit of info that I know about horses from my grandma.

At the moment, we actually have a Quarter Horse mix (guessing on that...) and from my understanding, they need about three flakes of hay to maintain body weight. So if you wanted her to gain weight, I would suggest maybe giving her a bit more until she's at the right body weight, and then cutting it back to the correct amount of flakes to maintain her weight.

Also, if you're working her daily, she should be receiving grain to help with the energy she is burning. The amount of grain that she receives is dependent on how much work she is doing, but I would recommend maybe a cup.... How much are you giving to her as a treat?

Again, I'm not sure how helpful I am. I'm certainly not a horse expert, but that's the information I've picked up from listening to my grandmother and other horse people. :)
 

frustratedearthmother

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It does sound like she just might need a few more groceries - but there are other things to consider too.

I'd have a fecal run to check for parasites, and also have her teeth checked.

I'm with Calendula - two flakes of hay probably just aren't enough to keep your horse conditioned. How big is the horse? An average horse weighing 1000 lbs will need a minimum of 15 - 20 lbs of hay a day if it's not getting grain. I don't think two flakes of hay are anywhere near 15 - 20 lbs.

Many years ago I worked for a vet. We'd go out to farm after farm who complained that their horses were thin. They'd say that they had done everything to put weight on the horse. It's been wormed, the teeth have been floated and they just couldn't understand why the horse was thin. His answer was always the same. "Feed them more!"

As far as grain feeding - start slow if your horse isn't accustomed to getting grain daily. There are lots of grains, lots of pellets and lots of ideas on how much and what to feed. Ask any horse folks that you are friendly with or ask your vet what they recommend.

These are just a few of the basic things - if you don't see improvement your vet may wish to dig deeper.

Good luck - hope it all works out for you and for your horse! :)
 
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Latestarter

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Greetings @EmilyClick28 and welcome to BYH. Glad you joined us! There's lots of great info and shared experience in the various animal threads. And like you've seen, some great folks who are always willing to help. Hope everything works out with your doe and your horse!
 

Baymule

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Look for a 14% protein pellet and feed her a scoop a day. I use a 4 quart metal scoop from Tractor Supply. If you can't find a 14% feed, use a 12% or you might consider a senior feed which has a lot of fat in it, until you get her back up to weight. Do not all of sudden increase her feed, or you will founder her. You will have to increase her feed slowly by about a cup a day until you are feeding her the full scoop. Also, do not suddenly switch her feed, mix the old with the new for about a week to transition her to the new feed. For such large animals, they have their tummy issues.

http://www.tractorsupply.com/tsc/product/little-giant-4-quart-galvanized-feed-scoop

The alfalfa hay is good, but she needs free access to a good grass hay 24/7. You need to understand the physiological needs of the animal. Horses are practically constant eaters. They are grazers and eat small amounts over a long period. Ruminants eat a LOT all at one time until their belly is full, then they lay down, cough up their cud, rechew it and swallow it again. Horses do not do that and giving them a LOT all at once is not how they would eat in a free/wild state.

Because horses are constant eaters, if they have long periods of nothing in their tummy, gastric juices can give them ulcers. That is why a free feed grass hay is needed. Or even better, pasture. Right now, I have 4 horses, there is no grass in their pasture, it is mostly wooded. They have 24/7 access to a round bale of hay and I feed each one a scoop of 14% protein pellet daily. I have 2 senior horses, age 25 and 27, and both look like 8 year olds.

Corn, especially whole corn is not easily digested by horses. Sweet feed is like you eating candy bars for supper. Tastes good, but too much sugar. Find a good pellet and give a couple of cups of beet shreds for a treat over the pellets. What you are currently feeding her is not enough to maintain her weight. Be sure to let us know how she does.
 

EmilyClick28

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thank you so much for this this was so helpful! so um would a good pellet be alfalfa pellets maybe?

Look for a 14% protein pellet and feed her a scoop a day. I use a 4 quart metal scoop from Tractor Supply. If you can't find a 14% feed, use a 12% or you might consider a senior feed which has a lot of fat in it, until you get her back up to weight. Do not all of sudden increase her feed, or you will founder her. You will have to increase her feed slowly by about a cup a day until you are feeding her the full scoop. Also, do not suddenly switch her feed, mix the old with the new for about a week to transition her to the new feed. For such large animals, they have their tummy issues.

http://www.tractorsupply.com/tsc/product/little-giant-4-quart-galvanized-feed-scoop

The alfalfa hay is good, but she needs free access to a good grass hay 24/7. You need to understand the physiological needs of the animal. Horses are practically constant eaters. They are grazers and eat small amounts over a long period. Ruminants eat a LOT all at one time until their belly is full, then they lay down, cough up their cud, rechew it and swallow it again. Horses do not do that and giving them a LOT all at once is not how they would eat in a free/wild state.

Because horses are constant eaters, if they have long periods of nothing in their tummy, gastric juices can give them ulcers. That is why a free feed grass hay is needed. Or even better, pasture. Right now, I have 4 horses, there is no grass in their pasture, it is mostly wooded. They have 24/7 access to a round bale of hay and I feed each one a scoop of 14% protein pellet daily. I have 2 senior horses, age 25 and 27, and both look like 8 year olds.

Corn, especially whole corn is not easily digested by horses. Sweet feed is like you eating candy bars for supper. Tastes good, but too much sugar. Find a good pellet and give a couple of cups of beet shreds for a treat over the pellets. What you are currently feeding her is not enough to maintain her weight. Be sure to let us know how she does.
 

Bunnylady

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Baymule is talking about pelleted horse feed. If you had been in the store room of your local feed dealer, you'd know there are a bazillion kinds of horse feed. Some are "textured,'' that's a combination of whole grain and pellets mixed with molasses - in other words, sweet feed. In addition to the sugar in the molasses that a horse really doesn't need, horses don't really grind grain up when they eat it, so a lot of that goes right through the horse (you can often see the grains sprouting in the horse poop piles after a good rain). There are some feeds that are just pellets, everything ground up, and no molasses. The key element that most people focus on in horse feed is the protein content; 10, 12, and 14% protein are pretty typical values. More protein isn't necessarily better if all you are doing is maintaining weight, but if you are building a horse up, higher protein will help you get there quicker.
 

EmilyClick28

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Thank you I will look for a higher percent protein pellet! Thanks
 

Kusanar

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First off, I want to say that I have 6 horses, and have had horses for 15 years (since I was 12) so I have experience.

I would start off by giving her as much hay as she will eat, start off giving her about half a bale a day and see what happens, if she leaves some, then give her slightly less the next day, if she cleans it all up, give her a little more the next day. Also, if/when she leaves hay, look at what she left, look to see if it is mostly weeds or mostly hay, if it is mostly weeds, she may be removing the weeds that aren't good for her to eat (some are poisonous and horses will generally sift those out of the hay and leave them on the ground).

Also, look for a pelleted horse feed to give her. Look for something with a higher protein and fat content. Sweet feed tastes good, but the extra sugar isn't really good for horses.

Make sure you read the feed bag and see how much you should be feeding per day based on the horses weight and work load, but, do not feed more than 5 pounds of grain in any one feeding.

Make hay the main part of her diet, especially in winter, then add grain for extra calories as needed, but if she starts gaining weight too fast, do not cut the hay back until you are no longer feeding any grain at all. Horses need food in their gut at all times to be healthy, so the more bulky feed (hay) she gets, the better.
 
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