Weight loss in horses is a cause for concern for many owners and breeders. Loss of weight or failure to gain weight may be due to infections, dental problems, less access to pasture or poor environmental conditions. Aside from making sure that you feed them with only good quality horse feed, here are some tips to help your horses gain weight and keep them healthy.
Increase their forage
To maintain a healthy weight, horses should consume about 2 to 3 percent of their body weight in daily ration, and about 1.5 to 2 percent of this should be forage. The hay you feed your animal should also be high quality and have a high leaf: stem ratio.
Add extra calories to their rations
Forage is not calorie-dense. The safest method to bolster the energy in your rations is by increasing the fat content. Fats give nine calories/gram compared to proteins and carbohydrates that provide only four calories/gram. Introduce fats slowly and carefully to avoid causing wide variations in insulin and sugar levels.
Add concentrates to the feeds
Sweet foods, sugar and starch-based concentrates and grains are good foods for weight gain. However, you should use these carefully and wisely since they can cause colic and laminates. You can alternatively buy commercial concentrates suited for your animal’s activity level and age.
Choose also which other grains, fibre and vitamins to add to the feed, depending on the specific needs of your horses.
Whatever type of concentrate you settle for, ensure you do feed less than 0.5% of your animal’s body weight in a single meal.