Adding calories to the easy keeper...

Discussion in 'Horse Health' started by teamfire, Sep 8, 2018.

  1. teamfire

    teamfire Full Member

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    Hi all,

    My horse is an andalusian/warmblood cross gelding that historically has been an extremely easy keeper.

    Over the years he has maintained good weight by strictly feeding him no more than 2% of his weight in straight Timothy hay (his system rejects any other local type hay, diarrhea usually) and a daily mash that consists of alfalfa cubes, whole flax, salt, BCAAs and a high quality vitamin/mineral/essential amino acid supplement (150g is the recommended amount for weight).

    Over the years he has been gaining muscle slowly and has good energy. However, this past year we have been working with an additional coach who has lead us to make tremendous leaps and bounds and he is now packing on muscle. However this last month I've noticed as the work is getting harder, hes started to lose weight a little bit.

    I've tried adding more alfalfa cubes but not sure if its making the difference as we've finally started to work on real collection and it is hard work on him.

    My coach suggested adding a high fat local feed called Lifelines Equi-Cal Pellets. However I'm not sure if that would be too much??? I'm also used to feeding him "clean" foods and nothing processed so theres that too as I cant even find ingredients online.

    What can I do to help give him a boost of clean calories? Could I add something like oats?? Or what.

    Your thoughts are appreciated :)
     
  2. DocsLglyBlonde

    DocsLglyBlonde Senior Member

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    I would try give him more hay. Up to free choice, but as much as you can give him without him getting too heavy (if you're not doing so already... This will likely be over 2% BW). How much alfalfa is he getting (weight)? You could probably up the cubes more, or if you're able to get baled alfalfa, even better. You could try something like speedi-beet or stabilized rice bran, but I've found that it takes a lot to add enough calories to make a difference, and alfalfa does a better job than either of them anyways. Oats will be high carb, low in fat and protein. A high fat additive gives you more calories per gram, so will keep weight on better without the insulin spikes carbs give, and added protein helps support and build muscle mass.

    You can also always add something like a Senior feed (I love triple crown senior), and keep him on the rest of his stuff, using the senior grain at a couple pounds per day only. That way, he'd be getting extra fat and protein with low carbs, but so long as he's still on all his other additives, he will not be deficient in anything. It is more processed, but may be necessary if you cannot up hay or alfalfa.

    It sounds like he's currently on a fantastic diet, so hopefully adding more hay or alfalfa is an easy solution! My mare is on an extremely similar diet, and she gorges on hay, so I'm always able to up her hay if need be (she's fed in slow nets, so it is easy to get her to consume more out of nets).
     
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  3. teamfire

    teamfire Full Member

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    Here's the odd thing. If I try up his hay now he starts to get squirty poops. Not sure if a case where I need to add some slower to get his system used to it or hes sensitive to the sugar content and the low hay amount has helped keep it under control. I can only keep 3/4 ton max so not worth testing unfortunately since the source changes.

    We cant get those feeds here unfortunately but the Equi Cal is a high fat low carb feed. I could do similar and only add a bit to add extra calories but keep everything else the same??

    I'm so dumbfounded because I spent years refining his dist to keep him healthy, energetic without ballooning him! Such an odd thing to think of ways to add calories!

    I'm probably feeding him approx 4 cups dry small cubes. My hay storage is very limited so buying alfalfa bales would be tough. Hm.
     
  4. Mcdreamer

    Mcdreamer Senior Member

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    You can definitely up the cubes. Four cups is not hat much at all. Could also try adding some beet pulp to his mash or rice bran.
     
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  5. DocsLglyBlonde

    DocsLglyBlonde Senior Member

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    Agree you can definitely up the cubes to at least a couple pounds a day (I think for my cubes, a quart is about a pound).

    The other thing you can look into is running a bucket or two of Equisure through him. My guy used to get runny poops with most hay, and Equisure cleared it up for him (it helps buffer the hind gut to prevent hind gut acidosis and heal hind gut ulcers). It might be worth a try, but if the hay is too high sugar and causing hind gut acidosis, it will likely keep happening.
     
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  6. manesntails

    manesntails Senior Member

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    Add a probiotic and lose the flax seed. Add ricebran to his grain and see how that goes.
     
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  7. teamfire

    teamfire Full Member

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    He periodically gets a probiotic. Mostly during fall and spring when hes likely to be eating more (fallen leaves, handwalked lush grass, etc).

    Why remove the flax? It adds fat to his diet and made a visible difference to the quality of his coat? Why rice bran?

    I like knowing the reasoning behind things :)
     
  8. manesntails

    manesntails Senior Member

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    P
    Probiotics need to be given daily because they are a way to add digestive enzymes to the gut to help the horse more easily digest his food. They may stop the diarrhea. Giving them once in a while has little benefit.

    Flax is oily, oily stuff can make for loose stools, plus, it is not necessary. Your horse will shine like a mirror without it if you groom him daily which stimulates the natural oils in the coat that only need to be distributed, by brushing, throughout the coat. .
     
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  9. teamfire

    teamfire Full Member

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    I give him the probiotics daily for almost all of fall and all of spring. Winter and summer I tend to wean him off. Over the years I've tried different brands... they do help but they are no miracle thing here. He doesn't get antibiotics and is fed nearly all forage all his life.

    And what do you know of Omega Fatty Acids and their uses and sources? He gets NO grass whatsoever so where should he get this very essential fat?

    Edit: I should add that he no longer has diarrhea. He only gets it sometimes during fall and spring. Also if I feed him more than his 2% hay. But the rest of the time, most of the time, good poops!
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2018
  10. manesntails

    manesntails Senior Member

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    Look, now you're being rude.

    He gets the fat from the rice bran. You're not talking to no little kid. I'm 64 yo and been training horses, all my life, trained and conditioned STB race horses as a career. I would wager I know more than you do. Feeding flax is a fad that started in the 90's.

    They need Probiotics if they have digestive issues, With EVERY meal. Diarrhea is a digestive issue. Stopping it in winter is counter productive.

    Horses burn more calories to keep warm at what time of year? Winter. Hay keeps weight on. When it's cold they need free choice hay. Grain provides energy. They get all the nutrients they need if you buy a complete feed and feed it as directed on the bag, adjusting per the individual animal's metabolism, slightly more or less. It does not put weight on. It is a concentrate that is burned for energy. Hay gives a constant slow supply of energy and keeps weight on.

    If you ask for opinions you will get them. Don't like an answer? Ignore it. Don't come back on a thread asking someone who took time to give you a suggestion : “and what do you know about...“
    Show that you were taught some manners.

    After all, if you knew anything about feeding horses, you wouldn't have to ask, would you.
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2018
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