Ask an Expert

Horse Weight Control

February 4, 2013

Do you have multiple horses, each with different weight problems? AQHA Corporate Partner Nutrena has some tips.

Ask an ExpertQuestion:

I have several horses in my pasture with different situations:

  • Several are on full-time pasture. They never get feed or hay unless I call them up, and then it is only a handful. In the winter, I keep a round bale of hay in the pasture. They are all way too fat.
  • I have one gelding who I can’t get weight on. He is on senior feed, oil and Calf Manna and is still too thin.
  • I have one mare on a dry lot who gets a handful of feed once a day so she can take Thyro-L to try to help keep her from gaining weight. I worry about if she is getting enough to keep her gut working. She got laminitis last year and was really bad for several

    weeks.

I have someone who lives at my farm and watches the horses and feeds the one, but I am only home on weekends, so

exercise is a problem. Any suggestions on either of them?

– Glenna

For the answer to this question, we consulted Nutrena customer support member Jolene Wright.

Answer:

Thank you for your question. Many maintenance-type horses can reach daily requirements on just pasture and hay alone, especially when it is free choice and they are eating higher amounts of feed than horses in controlled situations. If they are too fat, though, you might consider locking them off pasture for a certain amount of time every day, if possible, to avoid risk of metabolic problems.

For your thin horse, I suggest having his teeth checked and check him for worms. It could be a possibility that he has a tooth abscess or trouble chewing or another problem that is affecting his weight compared to the other horses. Once you get that checked out, I would consider feeding him one feed complete in vitamins/minerals with added fat/calories and controlled starch and sugar, such as Life Design Senior. Mixing feeds can create imbalances in the ration, so it is always best to choose one feed complete with vitamins/minerals.

For your mare on dry lot, you want to make sure she gets enough good-quality hay to maintain appropriate body condition. If you haven’t had any trouble, she is probably doing good on what she is getting especially if her weight is under control. It is always a good idea to offer free choice salt as well.

– Jolene Wright, Nutrena customer support member