Specialist topics

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This sticky thread is only to be used by specialists as per the list below. If you would like to be added to this list please send me a private message. The idea of this thread is so all members have easy access to information provided by our specialist members pertaining to their area of expertise.

1. Dr. John Kohnke

2. Horsewest



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Fattening Up A Thin Horse

Many thanks must go to Dr. John Kohnke.

Occasionally a horse is purchased or arrives for training or agistment in poor condition. Its condition may not be suitable for the work or purpose planned for it.

Common signs that a horse is in poor condition are:

-- General Ribby Appearance
-- A dull, rough coat
-- Failure to thrive
-- Inability to perform or work to expectation, or look their best
-- Reduced fertility in breeding horses
-- Poor growth rate in young horses

Common reasons for horses being in poor condition, besides neglect are as follows:

** A horse that has been out on poor pasture over winter without shelter or a rug may lose condition due to inadequate feed intake to meet its basics needs, such as staying warm.

** Young nervy or hyperactive types of horses that fret. Horses prone to fence walking when confined or stressing when not in the company of other horses often require more energy to maintain condition, compared to an older more mature horse.

** An aged horse with poor teeth and or infected gums often has trouble or is unable to chew hay and pasture, leading to loss of condition.

** Heavy internal parasite (worm) burdens, leads to gut irritation and reduced overall nutrient uptake.

** Teeth Problems, such as sharp edges or worn down teeth, resulting in insufficient chewing to prepare food for small bowel digestion.

** Sand accumulation in the hind gut when grazing short pasture on sandy soils or picking dropped hay/feed out of sand yards, resulting in reduced nutrient uptake and increasing the risk of colic.

** Inadequate feed, including insufficient quality and/or quantity of feed (energy and/or protein) to match the horses workload, reproduction or growth.

** Chronic disease conditions, such as respiratory disease, strangles, skin infections, reccuring colic or choke and chronic diarrhoea.

** Horses with certain vices such as weaving, stall walking and windsucking often fail to thrive because of the time spent at the habit rather than eating.

** Horses that have been on high energy rations when stabled, which are then suddenly withdrawn from that diet and put out to pasture for a rest often dramatically lose condition after 7 - 10 days.

** New horses introduced to a group often get bossed around, picked on and chased away from feeders.

Therfore, to help improve the health and general condition of a horse that is in overall poor condition, due attention should be paid to:

-- Control of parasites, worming/external treatments.
-- Condition of teeth, rasping and dental check.
-- Quality & Qunatity of feed, improve energy and other nutrient uptake
-- Treat any chronic disease conditions

A step by step guide to increase body condition is as follows:

1. Worm the horse 3 weeks apart. (The second worming will remove and newly hatched, developing small redworms released from gut reservoirs following the first worming.) If you suspect the horse has a major worm burden, discuss worm control with your vet as a special daily dosing schedule may be worthwhile.

2. Get the horses teeth checked by a qualified horse dentist or a vet. Especially in older horses, or horses showing signs of teeth problems such as dropping (quidding) food or very slow to chew hay.

3. A thorough health check by a vet may be necessary to determine if there are any underlying medical causes such as chronic illness, gastric ulcers or a naturally poor appetite.

4. Plan a step wise increase in feed intake. If the horse has been starved and is hungry, provide 3 - 4 small feeds daily to avoid overloadig the gut, which can lead to the risk of hindgut acidosis, onset of diarrhoea or lamanitis (founder). Carefully manage horses and ponies with a history of laminitis or founder.

5. Provide adequate roughage, such as good quality hay or pasture.

6. Introduce gradual exercise to help develop muscle bulk and tone. (Note that hard or prolonged excercise will limit the amount of weight gain.)

7. Keep the horse calm. A hard feed based on steamed or rolled barley, dampened pollard or a high energy 'cool' extruded feed at the rate of 500g to 750g per 100kg of body weight, mixed with an equal volume of chaff, in addition to the normal maintenance ration of hay or pasture for an adult lighty worked horse, will help achieve steady weight gain without making the horse playful or difficult to handle.

8. A quality supplement of vitamins and trace minerals mixed into the feed daily will help to ensure vitality, coat condition and general health as weight is gained.

9. Keep the horse warm, provide a light weight rug during cold weather, especially in horses that are kept outdoors under cool winter or wet conditions. Ensure the rug has a long tail flap to above the hocks to prevent cold air drawing heat from the lower belly area as horses usually stand with their backs to the breeze. Heat loss saps energy away from weight gain.

10. Keep the horse happy. A happy horse is a healthy horse. Horse are herd animals, so ensure they have some company or can at least see other horses. They will stress out less, leading to increased weight gain.

The above ration and exercise program should be carried out over 6 - 8 weeks, with care to avoid over supply of energy, which can lead to metabolic upsets, tying-up, founder and excitable behaviour. In young growing horses that have experienced a set back in development, extreme care should be taken to avoid sudden growth spurts by feeding excess amounts of energy, which can lead to limb growth abnormalities etc.

Any questions, send a Private Message, also PM with any other topics that interest you for next time.
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Making Feed Simple & Economic - Fresh is best

The widespread drought conditions have raised feed costs in many areas and more rises are expected during the summer months as hay and grain supplies are depleted. The increased costs of feeding horse can exceed the 'Horse feeding budget' as most horses, including mares and growing horses have to be given more hard feed and hay as pastures usually provide a reduced base for the diets of many horses.

There is now a very wide choice of prepared ready-mixed pellets and grain blends available to meet the needs of the full spectrum of horses, but the cost of these has already started to increase as reserves of ingredients are depleted. Many manufacturers have already raised prices and other price rises are expected.

The shortage of hay or good quality roughage for horses is likely to cause the major increase in costs of chaff and hay which will become more expensive and diets for many horses are based on chaff and hay. A saving on prepared feeds by using older grains, other home mixed feeds and supplements may help to keep feed costs down.

There are two options that are available if the price of feed starts to become a burden on the horse keeping budget - even for race and performance horses in training.

1. Blend prepared feeds with extra grain.

Even if grain prices increase, using a prepared feed as a base or for 'taste' in horses accustomed to a certain blend of feed or pellet, additional grains or meals can be added to make up the energy and protein shortfalls for working, breeding and growing horses. Most of the prepared mixed feeds cost around $1.00 - $1.20 per kg, whereas feeds such as steam rolled barely, cracked lupins and even oats are still around 50-60 cents per kilogram when purchased in bags.

However if the prepared feed is being fed at the recommended daily rate for a particular horse, and the amount is reduced and replaced with steam rolled barley for energy or cracked lupins for energy and protein as an example, then you will normally need to add a reduced amount of a supplement to make up the shortfalls in calcium, trace-minerals and vitamins.

2. Blend a totally home mixed feed.

There are cost savings in racing and upper level performance horses by mixing a totally home-mixed feed to meet the varying needs of a large range of horses.

Benefits include:

1. Only 2-3 ingredients plus chaff and hay.
Mixing a simple ration based on 1-2 grains, 1 protein meal, chaff and hay, with added oil as an option for extra energy and coat condition. You do not need a large number of ingredients and cost savings on grains, even during the current drought, can be worthwhile compared to a similar energy and protein content in a mixed feed.

2. The feed is made FRESH each feed.
No risk of added fat being absorbed into grains or taste changing during long term storage of 'sweet' feeds as added fat soaks into the other ingredients.

3. The feed blend can be changed easily.
Feed changes to meet the changing demands for horses in work are easy, with grains cut back on reduced work or rest days to avoid tying up and risk of hot behaviour if excess grain is fed in proportion to exercise needs.

4. An economical supplement can be added to match specific needs of each horse relative to its workload, breed or size.

5. Less waste in some cases and more consistency as prepared feeds are likely to change in blend to maintain energy and protein content but other grains or meals are substituted.

6. Savings of $1-2 per day for the average equestrian horse, up to $3 per day for racing horses when an all in one supplement blend is used to make up shortfalls in the diet.

For more information or if you have any questions, simply send a PM.

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