Horses typically digest food efficiently and absorb nutrients, but not always. Some horses have difficulty maintaining a good body condition score. They are called “hard keeping.
Some horses might have to gain weight due to an illness or be brought into an environment that doesn’t provide sufficient nutrition. This article will help you identify a horse that is thin learn about the reasons that horses be in a lower state of health and ensure you have the right diets for rapid, secure weight increase.
How To Assess the Need for Weight Gain
The Body Condition Score (BCS) is an important and objective scoring system that can determine the level of muscles and fat. When horses lose weight, they first utilize carbohydrates reserves (glycogen) which are rapidly diminished. The fat stores are then mobilized after which is the breaking down of muscle to protein. The majority of BCS scoring is conducted on a scale of nine points. There are a few differences between breeds and disciplines in regard to the ideal body condition, however, generally, a score of 4 or 5 is considered to be ideal. These horses will be symmetrical in muscles; a small trace of the back could be observed, but it’s not easily discernible. There will be a thin fat pad on the back of the tail. The neck and the withers are a seamless blend.
It’s very risky to try and rapidly to rapidly increase the weight of horses that are severely dehydrated ( BCS of 1-2.5). Additionally, extremely obese horses (BCS 8-9) are also susceptible to serious health issues when weight loss that is rapid is tried. This should not be attempted under the close supervision of a veterinarian.
Health Reasons for Poor Body Condition in a Horse
The first step when assessing horses that are thin is to identify conditions that can make them unappetizing. Healthy horses are active and bright, interested in food, and possess shiny coats with the appropriate length for the time of year. No nasal discharges should be observed. The manure should be a soft-formed fecal ball. While eating, horses should be able to effortlessly get food through the lips. They should chew their food without dropping the food and swallow without coughing.
Your vet should evaluate horses that are getting too thin. Dental issues are a significant reason for losing weight for horses. The teeth of horses constantly grow and change in shape throughout their lives. They are also ground down by chewing the roughage (hay as well as grass). Sometimes, teeth are unevenly ground down, leading to sharp points that may cut cheeks or gums, making chewing painful. Horses that are older grind their teeth to create a smooth surface. They might be able to lose their teeth. A dental exam must be done annually to check for dental problems even in horses with the right weight.
A fecal sample is taken as part of the examination to check for the stealing of nutrients by external parasites. The blood sample can be taken to look for any underlying infections kidney enzymes and liver infections and other ailments. A vet will also inquire about what feed you’re giving your horse and if there’s competition among horses at the feed trough.
The most common cause for the recent loss of weight in horses is increased energy consumption. Mares are likely to lose weight following foaling due to the fact that making milk requires an enormous amount of energy. The increase in physical activity often will require an increase in calories also. Another common cause for a greater need to fuel your body is the sudden drop in temperatures in the environment. Horses typically maintain their physical condition solely by eating grass or pasture. However, grain supplements are often required in the event that winter temperatures fall below freezing. Check your horse’s condition every day by taking your blanket off during cold weather and this can occur in the course of one week.
Best Foods for Weight Gain
Hay is the main element of horses’ diet, and the quality of hay varies greatly. Horses need to consume between 1.5-2 percent of their weight in high-quality hay every day in the event that pasture isn’t readily available. Most horses require supplementation with hay during winter, even though they are they have plenty of pastures in a climate that is seasonal. Alfalfa has more calories than grass hay and is dense in calories in comparison to straw.
Fast weight gain can be difficult to attain in horses because the microbes that reside within the horse’s digestive tract are very sensitive to changes. But, certain fibers, concentrates, as well as grains are better than others when it comes to promoting weight gain that is safe. Beet pulp is a great source of fiber and helps to promote safe improvements in the body’s condition. It is recommended to soak it prior to eating.
The concentrations that are high in protein and fats are also able to promote weight gain in a safer way than those with high sugar content because sugar causes rapid shifts in gut microbe number and can cause colic. oils (corn canola flax, flax commercial formulas specifically for horses) are rich in energy sources in the form of fat, without starch. They are particularly useful for horses sensitive to starch, for example, those with an intestinal disease or prior laminitis. 2 Any supplementation of oil or grain should be done gradually over the course of one or two weeks in order to give the horse’s gut the time to adjust.
Overall, filling the tiniest horse first requires some research by both you and your vet. Find out if there are health problems like dental problems or high levels of parasites and systemic diseases, as well as external factors like herd competitions first. After that, evaluate the quality of roughage and add oils and concentrates gradually, focusing on protein, fiber, and fats above sugars and digestible starches.
Leave a Comment