Horse Losing Weight - Is Feed to Blame?

Discussion in 'Feeding Horses' started by Moondance, Nov 7, 2010.

  1. Moondance

    Moondance New Member

    My horse Reggie came to me in July of this year. He has been mine in February, but lived with my partner until July.

    He is 7 years old and is in very light work (he gets a workout maybe once every three weeks or so, usually lunging him until he starts lightly sweating, just to get his heart rate up and get his body moving, his fitness level is improving greatly thanks to this, his first session he huffed and puffed for ages after, but not anymore).
    He had his teeth done just last Tuesday (5 days ago, from the date of posting this thread).
    He was wormed three weeks ago using Ammo All Wormer, as was his paddock mate...

    This is a picture of him from July 8th of this year:

    This is a picture of him from August 1st of this year:

    August 27th:

    I don't have any pictures from September/October where he is naked... He either has his rug on, or is in work with saddle and rider... so you can't really see much...

    Approximately 3-4 weeks ago:

    Taken today:
    Not sure if he looks SO bad in this pic because of the angle of the photograph or what, because I don't think he looks THAT bad in person, especially in profile... but he looks quite horrendous here I think...


    When he first came in July, his feed consisted of the following:

    Morning Meal
    1x biscuit of lucerne hay

    Evening Meal
    3x dippers of oaten chaff
    3x dippers of lucerne chaff
    1x dipper of Prydes Easi-Result
    1x dipper of Mitavite Xtra Cool

    (the evening meal has ALWAYS been hosed down to the point where all of the dry contents are damp, but not overly wet to prevent dust from the chaff and also to aid him in eating the food)
    He is also on grass. It isn't the best grass in the world, but there is at least some grass available, he grazes pretty steadily.

    On August 9th, he hurt himself. Had an accident with some barbed wire courtesy of the idiot who owns the property where I've been keeping him. Superficial wounds, some cuts on his shoulder and inside his right thigh, which have all healed extremely well. I mention this because someone on another forum suggested I should include this information when asking about this subject, as it was after this accident I noticed him losing weight. Whether the two have anything to do with each other I don't know.

    Approximately mid-August I upped his chaff intake slightly to 4 dippers of each, oaten and lucerne in his evening meal.

    By mid September I had upped his hay intake to 2 biscuits of hay, and then for a period of about 4 weeks, ranging from mid September to mid October, I couldn't get my hands on any lucerne hay. He was on grass hay. I gave him extra of the grass hay to compensate for it not being so high a quality as the lucerne hay (usually 3-4 biscuits depending on the particular bale).

    It was during the time he was on the grass hay in late September I noticed he was losing weight. I asked some friends who suggested adding Copra to his diet, which I immediately did, I also started making trips farther and farther from home to get my hands on lucerne hay. I now have a weekly trip of driving over an hour from home to get hay, as I can never afford to buy in bulk.
    So since late September he has been having the following:

    Morning Meal
    2x biscuits of lucerne hay
    (this weighs approximately a kilo and a half)

    Evening Meal
    4x dippers of lucerne chaff
    4x dippers of oaten chaff
    1x dipper of Prydes Easi-Reult
    1x dipper of Mitavite Xtra Cool
    1x dipper of Copra

    After being on the Copra for almost a month, I spoke to a guy at the stock feeds who suggested I opt out of Mitavite and instead get Cool Fattener Pellets, which I immediately did, that was nearly 2 weeks ago.
    I today also started him on a dipper of cracked lupins, which I put in water and soak through the day, as they swell up, which I also do with the copra meal, as it too swells up a fair bit.

    When his feed has been wet down (and NOT to the point where there is heaps of water in the bucket, but JUST enough that the dry stuff is damp enough to not be inhaled, as my horse can be an idiot and frequently inhales chaff when its fed dry) it generally weighs over 10kg easily, as I sometimes find it difficult to carry when taking it to the paddock. I have no idea what it weighs dry, because as I said, I soak the lupins and the copra anyway.

    For about three weeks or so now too, he has been forced to share his paddock with another horse, which means less pasture for him, which is another reason I upped the feed intake with the copra and lupins.

    I keep being told to feed him "more, more, more feed" and have had a hundred people tell me to change this, feed that, do this... and it all seems so often to be conflicting information.
    He is being fed MORE now than he used to get fed at my partners and at my partners he was actually quite fat. Whether its the difference in what the food content actually is, I don't know.

    I'm just wondering if he could be sick somehow?

    Cookies to anyone who read through all of that! And hope someone can help!
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2010
  2. Lauren

    Lauren Gold Member

    Has he been scoped for ulcers?
    If he's injured himself maybe he's stressy and has a stomach full of them.

    A little off topic, but I was always told that you shouldn't feed as much lucerne as you feed chaff coz it's so high in phospherous(?) Can anyone tell me if that's true? I don't feed lucerne at all but just curious.

    Is there a way you can get him a hay roll?
    1.5kg of hay doesn't seem like much? I buy a roll which I store outside the paddock under a shed on tarps. I feed my boy 6kg of hay (split into 2 bags) + a small hardfeed. I found that the best way to put weight on was to feed more roughage versus processed feeds.
  3. Moondance

    Moondance New Member

    I COULD get a hay roll, but it would end up only being grass hay as opposed to lucerne. I'm not really "up" on the quality or goodness of grass hay, as I've always fed lucerne hay (until the time I couldn't get any and I HAD to feed grass hay)... But a few people have said grass hay is nowhere near as nutritious as lucerne hay, lucerne is best for fattening a horse up

    How much do you think it would cost to scope for ulcers?
    When his teeth were done at the vet, the vet loved him, and said he looked really good apart from being a bit underweight. He didn't have any advice to offer though.
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2010
  4. Debonair

    Debonair Well-known Member

    I would be worried bout his weight with that amount of feed, but then again i have never had a TB! ( my arab and QH are barrels on a sniff of feed!)

    i have always been told tho bulk is the key to weight gain... not all the pellets and stuff, but hay, hay and hay!

    is a meadow hay roll possible? not sure about where u are but is oaten hay a easy to get as aposed to lucern? i would be giving 2 bickies oaten in morn, 2 bickies at night and split his hard feed to half in morn with the hay and half at night... tho one would wonder if the other horse is getting his feed... (?)

    Chip lost a heap of condition ( i mean leaner that ive ever seen him! ) when he injured his leg a few months ago.. tho his was degloved to the tendon, so alot of his energy was used in healing... hes back to covered now and thats on meadow hay and 1 scoop lucern a day.

    that would be my advise... from my experience, please anyone enlighten me if u feel this is incorrect :)
  5. Lauren

    Lauren Gold Member

    I've never heard of grass hay before to be honest.
    I feel Oaten as my guys are fussy and won't eat Meadow haha.

    Between $80-$100 if you take the horse into the vets.
    Only some vets can scope for ulcer's though as they need a very long scope.
  6. Norman Arch

    Norman Arch New Member

    could he prehaps be more active now that he is forced to share his space. Is he getting along with the new paddock buddy? My TB gelding lost heas of weight when h was sharing a paddock with a horse he didn't like. He was stressed and lost a lot of weight from being totally stressed out. The "friend" was put in with some one else and my TB slowly regained the weight on his usual diet.

    he may have also just had a large worm burden (were they both wormed together?)
    A few years ago my Tb mare lost a lot of weight after i used the Ammo wormer. (never used it again) friends also had similar stories of their horses dropping lots of weight when they used ammo worming pastes.

    hope he starts to regain his weight again for you. Its so stressful when they drop off for no apparent reason.
  7. Lauren

    Lauren Gold Member

    That's interesting.
    Wonder why? I thought most wormer's use the same key ingredients?
    Did you contact the makers and ask about it?

    I use Ammo and haven't had a problem.. yet haha
  8. katers93

    katers93 Well-known Member

    I think you should really see a nutritionist, not sure how accessible they are over there as they are here. But to me it seems like you are feeding WAY too much of the wrong things and not enough of the right things.
    Firstly If you have upped his hard feed and he is losing weight I am not surprised. Feeding excessive amounts of hard feed hinders digestion and will more than likely prevent weight from being put on. This is especially detrimental to the digestive system as you are only feeding hard feed once a day.
    The feed ratios are extremely out. Way too much protein not enough carbohydrates.
    "more more more feed" is NOT the answer. Feed a quality balanced diet and you will see results. Feed small, high quality balanced rations twice a day, with large amounts of roughage.
    I have an extremely bad doer and she is fed:
    1 litre of oaten chaff
    1 litre of lucernce chaff
    1/2 litre bran
    1 litre of oats
    1/2 litre lupins
    twice daily
    plus about 6-10kg of hay a day (depends on time of year) and she is now a big fat thing. Not a costly diet ( probably will be soon though :p), not difficult but is very balanced.

    And yes Lauren lucerne has a fairly high phosphorus content, the problem is not that it is too high, but that it throws out magnesium:calcium: phosphorus ratios, as do many other feeds.
    Also lucernce hay may be much more nutritious, but I think you would be better off on oaten to gain a more balanced diet.
    Sorry if that sounded a bit abrupt haha, good luck I hope he improves :D
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2010
  9. Lauren

    Lauren Gold Member

    :) Yep what I was told.. if you do feed a lot of lucerne feed a Calcium supplement.
  10. katers93

    katers93 Well-known Member

    I would just be limiting the lucernce, really if you're feeding lucerne hay you dont need to be supplementing with lucernce chaff. Most mineral supplements have a balanced ratio and if you just fed a calcium supplement then the magnesium would be out :p Plus a lot of calcium supplements don't come in very digestible forms, as with many specific supplements. You could feed limestone/dolomite (can't remember which is non-digestible and digestible anymore things keep changing) as it is composed of calcium and magnesium so would even your ratios out a bit..but thats getting to the point where you don't really know what your feeding ';'
  11. wheatbeltanimalrescue

    wheatbeltanimalrescue Well-known Member

    I would be having him vetted and checked for ulcers - if medical cause is ruled out then environmental factors are probably the next to be looked at.
    As someone else asked - is he happy with the paddock buddy he has? Has the change of agistment been a factor?

    Quite honestly though - i dont go for any of the fancy feed regimes for underweight horses of any breed! Have had skinny t/b come to us as well as other breeds and we always stick to the same basic feed system

    MORNING - 3-4 biscuits of oaten hay

    NIGHT - 3-4 biscuits hay

    Hard feed of 8 scoops wheaten chaff, 1-2 scoops of Mitavite gumnuts and a handfull of black sun flower seeds

    Works every time for us - basic but effective. We always keep mineral blocks handy to the horses too :}
  12. painter

    painter Well-known Member

    Personally I would be increasing his oaten/wheaten or meadow hay dramatically (as in 24/7 access) and if there was no visible improvement in a week - two max, I'd get the vet out.

    Having said that, my TB who is a very easy keeper and not a typical stressy TB, will drop weight at a phenomenal rate whenever he injures himself, even relatively minor wounds that don't require vet treatment. So now whenever he injures himself I increase his feed asap.
  13. info on archie

    info on archie Well-known Member

    This horse NEEDS a hay roll, or a lot more roughage then he is getting :)

    Also, a good idea is to put him on aloe vera juice, start with a cap full, then
    work it up to around 50 mL per day. (25mL morning, 25mL night).
    Aloe vera juice is GREAT for ulcers, so I would HIGHLY recommend it,
    my gelding put on copius amounts of muscle and fat, within 3 days of
    being on aloe vera juice.

    I'd get a chiro out aswell. Is he shod?
  14. Tallarook

    Tallarook Well-known Member

    Welcome to feeding bigger horses, mine all get a simple hard feed at night plus 2 biscuits plus at least 2 biscuits in the morning and those that need it get a feed am too.

    I only feed chaff, Pony Maintenance, Equilibrium and hay. Very simple but works for me :)*
  15. Bon & Ted

    Bon & Ted Guest

    easy answer to an easy question - the horse needs more food.

    He doesn't otherwise look ulcer-y. Strange how people look for health reasons but seem to miss the extremely obvious fact that the horse is being underfed!

    Feed him hay, just normal oaten stuff. min 4 bikkies a day if the grass is poor he's not getting anything from it. Even better would be a hay roll, or move him somewhere the pasture is better.

    Whats the rule? 2% of body weight in feed daily, and that is DRY feed weight. If your horse is 500 kg's, that's 10kg's... I doubt he is even getting 50% of that... Wet weight doesn't count, it adds a hell of a lot of weight soaking stuff, water is heavy.

    So yes, feed the horse more as what he currently gets is totally insufficient!!
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 7, 2010
  16. weezal

    weezal New Member

    Hi Moondance.

    I live in Sydney and feed only lucerne. Don't feed any oaten/meadow at all. I did have many problems keeping weight on my horse over winter so will share what I did to fix this.

    Best thing you can do is properly balance your feed. I did this with feedxl as this will take into account the grass and will let you know if you need to feed more roughage. It only cost $15 for a month on the basic plan which was enough to balance it and it worked so well I have paid for another year.

    Next thing I did was put him on a probiotic. I used protexin and gave him abou 15gms/day

    I also rugged him up a bit more. If your not rugging at the moment I would suggest a rug on at night if possible such as a light lined or unlined rug as it is still getting a little chilly at night.

    I did this and my horse put on a great amount of weight in a week.

    If this doesn't work I would be getting the vet or even be getting the vet now if you can afford it.
  17. Jacky Legs

    Jacky Legs New Member

    Under weight horses

    There seems to be a lot going on for this horse. In the last 10 months he has been sold, moved, had his feed changed, introduced to a new horse, had his teeth done and been wormed. All of these things would put stress on the horse and could result in stress reactions such as ulcers and weight loss.

    It is not unusual for horse to have a negative reaction to a worming paste, especially if they have been on a very natural diet with very little chemical input. I would definately treat the gut with Clean Culture and/or Protexin then follow up treatment daily herbal regime of Marshmallow Root Powder and Slippery Elm Bark Powder.

    In terms of the feed then more hay as defiantely required. The hay should be the highly quality low nutritional value hay you can afford. Lucerne Hay is great. It has high protein for muscle growth, but like all legumes is goitergenic so should not be over done. A little is fine, but try to get you hands on some "white" hay. Coming from NSW you should be able to get some Rhodes Grass. You can get the aditional protein for muscle growth and development from Whey Based Protein and Amino Acid Supplements such as the ePro range, GTP. If your horse needs extra energy you could look at adding some High Quality Cold Pressed Oil into the diet, this will not only help with weight gain, but if using a balance oil of Omega 3/6/9's will provide an anti-inflamatory effect and help the hoof and coat.

    Hard Feeds should be fed as smaller feeds more often, The horses stomach is actually quite small. Over feading once a day leads to poor feed conversion. If you can feed at least twice a day it is better. I had an older horse I used to feed small feeds 4 times a day.

    I always use High Quality Natural Supplements to ensure my horses are getting sufficient minerals and vitamins. In this way they no only get the minerals they need but the important co-factors required to enhance absorption.

    Having Grass Hay Adlib is definately required.

    As odd as it may sound some more work may also help. Very very light work more regularly (simply going for a walk together) may also assist, as it will alleviate boredom, help build your bond and give your horse a sense of purpose.

    Best of luck!

    Animal Health store - Home page
  18. Moondance

    Moondance New Member

    Usually Reggie is okay with the oaten chaff in his hard feed, but feeding him oaten HAY makes him go completely insane, he gets fizzy to the point of being completely brainless and doesn't think because he's too hyper and he runs around and hurts himself!

    We try our best to feed both horses at the same time each day and if they are to be fed at seperate times, Reggie gets put into a feeding yard, and I stay with him until he finishes to let him back out.

    I have been considering a meadow hay roll, and just putting a cover over it to keep it from the weather and then letting him have at it, but with a shared paddock it makes it difficult. The other horse is kind of a glutton and he would honestly just gorge his face on the stuff since there wouldn't be any real way to keep him from it.

    Grass hay from what I can gather is exactly what the name implies. Made from long grass, dried out and stuff, like regular hay, then baled as the norm.

    Sometimes I see him and his paddock mate playing (mostly NOT, as the other horse is a really laid back type, who is so freaking lifeless its crazy, he doesn't find anything fun, and when my horse tries to chase him around and get him moving, he just trots really slowly like "why am I doing this?" and then as soon as my horse stops pushing him, he just stops and drops his head and stands there looking silly).
    He has never been in a shared paddock situation before however, so it is possible its putting stress on him.
    The pair seem pretty friendly towards each other though, my boy, if something upsets him, will run and hide behind the other horse. He's a huge patsy.

    Both he and his paddock mate were wormed at the same time and I kept a continual monitoring in the days after, constantly checking their poop for any trace of worm or worm eggs. Found nothing, they seemed pretty clean.

    Oaten and Reggie = bad combo as I said above in this post, it makes him way too fizzy and brainless. He turns into an energy ball and goes silly!

    I do add Dolomite to his feed, as well as a small amount of Copper Sulphate (he's always had both in his hard feed).

    How well does Dolomite work for that, I should have mentioned it before, but yeah... I add Dolomite to the feed.

    Already do feed the dolomite.

    What about in his hard feed, cutting back the lucerne chaff and having oaten chaff only in his hard feed? So that his hay feed he can stick with lucerne hay?

    If he didn't share a paddock, I know I would have gotten him one of the large round bales by now and just let him have at it along with his hard feeds til he fattened back up.

    Where all of you live, how much does a bale of lucerne usually cost? Coz here where I live, the regular price of a bale of lucerne is about $18.50. A bale lasts less than a week. It's one of the reasons I haven't bought as much hay as other stuff, because I use smaller amounts of more different types of feed, they last me longer than hay does. Hay I'm having to buy weekly or bi-weekly, but the hard feeds usually last me 4 weeks or so.
    I do want to buy more hay, but at the same time, I am concerned about having to continually keep on buying it. I'm on disability pension because I have mental problems, I find it really hard to work, I have breakdowns.

    But is that what everyone is suggesting? More hay?
    I was just always told lucerne is the best for fattening...
  19. Moondance

    Moondance New Member

    Yeah, again, he can't really have oaten hay, it makes him go crazy fizzy. My partner, when Reggie was with him, tried all of his horses and Reggie on some oaten hay and omg, it was crazy. He spent half his time galloping around, tossing his head around, and on a few occasions ran headlong into a fence because he wasn't paying enough attention, bucking and kicking and going insane.

    There are actually a few mineral blocks spread out around the paddock, one attached to the gate, more attached to various trees. We don't put them on the ground as when it rains, they just crumble into the soil.

    And yeah, as I said in my last post, hay keeps for some reason proving to be highly uneconomical for me. It doesn't last the distance that the hard feed does for some reason.

    I DO want him on a round bale, but I cannot do that with his paddock mate. As the other horse would just wind up eating most of it. If I COULD give him 24/7 access, I would, but it doesn't work when he shares a paddock. The owner of the other horse isn't willing to go halves in the bale as for some reason she doesn't want her horse having 24/7 access to a bale (even though hers is just as ribby as mine). I can't afford to do it on my own if her horse is going to be eating half the feed as well.

    He's not shod, no. I've been getting him trimmed regularly as I want him going barefoot. Though at the moment, the farrier thinks he won't be able to on his two fronts.
    Never heard any of that about aloe vera juice though. Is there anyone else that has had any experience with that?

    Half of that I didn't even understand... Sorry. ';'

    But he wasn't sold, he was "given" to me. He used to be an extremely scared, frightened animal as when he was in race training, he was abused. He was so bad that for a period of about a year and a half, his owner could barely get near him. I started working with him and we ended up forming a really amazing bond together, so his owner, who is my partner, GAVE him to me.
    We kept him down there at my partners for as long as we could, as I didn't want him to have the stress of being moved, but it got to a point where one of my partners mares was expecting and he was running out of space, so I moved him.
    He's been in the same agistment paddock since he arrived. And he gets worked once every 3 or so weeks. I'm scared of pushing him too far too fast.
    I changed his feed because the way my partner has always done it is to buy every single ingredient seperately, and then make his own mix up of the contents each day, which didn't work out very feasible for me, I wanted to go with a complete feed, but nobody could tell me if either Prydes or Mitavite was better, so I just went with both and a 50/50 chaff mix.
    He was on his own in his paddock for all of July, August and September, it wasn't until October that he was forced to share his paddock and believe you me, I fought against it with a passion, as it seems he's dropped more weight since being forced to share. Whether thats stress, or less in the way of grass I don't know.
    We did attempt also to fence off certain areas in the paddock, to allow grass to grow there so the horses could have grass once the main areas were eaten down, but it cut too much out of our paddock.

    And its not like worming it out of the ordinary, he's very good to worm and you're sposed to worm every 3 months anyway aren't you?
    And his teeth were done because we thought it may have been contributing to the weight loss, if he couldn't chew properly, then he wouldn't be digesting the food properly because it wasn't properly chewed.

    Not sure what "white hay" is? I always thought Oaten was white hay... but I guess I'm wrong?
    Don't think I've heard of Rhodes Grass either... I'll ask at my stock feed about it though.

    So if I were to buy grass hay, and just feed more and more of that, as opposed to lucerne, would that help?
    And what about HALVING his hard feed, feeding half in the morning with hay rations and half in the afternoon with more hay rations?
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2010
  20. Jessie_13

    Jessie_13 Well-known Member

    Oh you poor thing Moondance! Don't worry, feeding horses give me a headache too lol! so many opinions and too many options! I will just give you my experience! I took on a rescue in July and we have had a very up and down road with weight gain and different feeds until we found what suited! Hay is THE MOST important part of any horses diet and if you can get as much of it into him as possible this will be a great starting point! Splitting his feeds also will be best, as horses have small stomachs and small feeds more often are better, rather then just one big one! Also he doesn't look wormy....but perhaps give him a course of ulcer medication (often cheaper then getting scoped), just in case!

    Lucerne IS very good for putting on weight, but it can be overdone, it has high levels of protein, as well as putting out your phosphorous! So you want to feed this along with a lower quality hay...If you want to continue maybe giving him a biscuit in the morning and put out as much meadow hay as you can for him to munch on during the day and then more at night! (Will the other horse come and steal his food?) then cut the lucerne out of his hard feed! Bulk up his oaten chaff or wheaten chaff! Or you have the option of just bulking up meadow hay and putting lucerne chaff in, but IMO don't do both (lucerne hay and chaff)! I normally feed 1.5 x lucerne to 4 x oaten chaff, otherwise his legs blow up! Lupins are a pulse, they are low starch, so non-fizzy and high in protein, of course my boy decided he didn't like them!

    So he went loopy on oaten hay hmmm, maybe it had heaps of oats in it and some horses are just really sensitive to grain and so probably the best way to go is a "fattening" food diet!

    We don't use a lot of prydes feeds in WA, but I'm pretty sure they have a nutritionist on there website who will work out a diet for your horse? But I would just choose either mitavite of prydes, the prydes seems to be very well balanced and complete feed (already containing lupins and the like)...These types of feeds are designed to be fed with lots of roughage and you shouldn't really need to add much else...But might I suggest par-boiled rice, its great for bulking on the weight and is completely cool, just really fattening! Or even some flaky bran...

    Feedxl is great it allows you to put in all his details and then try different foods to see what balances for him! Also put the cost in and work out what's economical! I am also on a strick budget, so feeding lots of premium feeds or heaps of different feeds didn't work out for me!

    I found a very simple diet works for my boy...He is on an oaten hay roll, during the day with hay bags at night, but sometimes he is left out 24/7...

    Gets in each feed; (am and pm)
    1.5 scoops pony cubes
    1 cup of copra
    1.5scoops of lucerne chaff
    4.5 scoops of oaten chaff
    Vitamin/mineral sup works out cheaper for me in the long run. Before he got his hay roll I was feeding out bales of it, he is a 16.2hh, 5yr old TB...who looked a lot worse then your boy when I got him!

    If you managed to get through this well done, and if anything confuses you, just send me a PM! I have lots of other feeds I have tried too lol

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