Fattening up OTTB

Discussion in 'Horse Health' started by horsewhispers, Mar 12, 2018.

  1. horsewhispers

    horsewhispers Senior Member

    Jan 12, 2014
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    I'm an exercise rider at a local thoroughbred farm and brought home my first OTTB almost two weeks ago. He's a 3 year old, born on the farm but had just shipped back from the racetrack the day before I brought him home. He has some bone chips and therefore is not able to hold up to daily galloping.

    I've been spoiled by two super easy keepers for years and years and need suggestions for best grain and fattening supplements, without adding too much energy. He's currently eating my horse's grain which is relatively low fat. I'm bad with weighing (definitely need to take the scale out tonight), but give him 2 large scoops 2x a day, and give him 4 ounces of a weight builder/body conditioner supplement (forget what it's called). He was a bit fidgety about eating the grain as it's not the sweet feed he was used to getting, so I've been mixing in some molasses to encourage him to clean it up, and fir the last week he has been!

    He's a bit fidgety with hay also, but I've noticed that he is eating it more now. I know at the farm, it's not unusual for the horses to spread the hay throughout their stall and waste it. I can't afford that nonsense, so I started putting it in a hay rack which he didn't like at first, but now he's eating just fine.

    Any suggestions for quality grains and fattening supplements that you've found to work are appreciated! He's not skinny as far as working thoroughbreds go, but I don't like seeing any ribs on my horses. He did tend to be an easy keeper when he was younger, but now he's pretty tall, narrow and leggy.
    AprilFools likes this.
  2. Mcdreamer

    Mcdreamer Senior Member

    Nov 3, 2011
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    First, make sure ulcers are not an issue. Especially since he's been finicky with eating.

    Hay 24/7 is a good place to start. From there explore alfalfa options. Beet pulp. Senior grain. These are all good options.
  3. palogal

    palogal Senior Member

    Jan 3, 2008
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    Free choice hay is a good place to start, be careful adding too much sugar too fast. OTTB's are generally hot enough, too much sugar can cause big problems. Along with a high fat, sometimes comes higher sugar. Pay close attention to the ingredients of your feed. Also extended turn out with OTTB's helps them a lot, makes them less stressed, which will help him maintain his weight and support his general health.
    Charliemyheart and ginster like this.
  4. slc

    slc Senior Member

    Feb 19, 2004
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    "horsewhispers, post: 8178741, member: 72219"....my first OTTB....3 year old.....bone chips...

    What exercise will he be getting?

    Suggestion - buy one of those $3 weight tapes. It will help you gauge weight loss and gain. The trick is positioning it the same way and pulling it to the same tightness, each time.

    Occasionally Thoroughbreds get a steroid like Winstrol at the track...they may lose weight when that medication is stopped. But typically they put weight on when their work is stopped/reduced. If they don't, one would be suspicious that the teeth need done, the horse needs to be wormed, has stomach ulcers, etc.

    ...my horse's grain which is relatively low fat..... 2 large scoops 2x a day, and give him 4 ounces of a weight builder/body conditioner supplement (forget what it's called). .....molasses....

    One thing to keep in mind is that most horses get 90% of their calories from their hay and pasture. Generally, the bagged feed is a small percentage of their calories - so you really need to weigh their hay, estimate how much pasture they get, and that all is going to be a really important part of their diet.

    So how many lbs of hay is he getting, and how much grass? Have you got any grass this time of year?

    Generally, I find it more helpful to feed everything by weight, rather than scoop, flake, etc. because the directions on the feed bags use weights and all the reference charts use weights. So I figure out how much a scoop of each feed I use, weighs.

    Most feeds specify a minimum amount you can feed of their product, to get enough vitamins/minerals/protein. I don't think that will be a problem for you - I'm guessing a wild guess that you are feeding about 12 lbs.

    Once I get to where I am feeding 8-12 lbs of a product, I am convinced that I need to feed that horse a different product. I'm not much for adding supplements because they introduce a lot of problems. I want to get a bagged feed that meets my horse's needs without supplements.

    I'd recommend buying a higher fat feed for your new horse.

    Usually those scoops hold about 2 quarts. That's about 3 lbs of pellets.

    If you have a 3 quart scoop, it's about 3 1/2 - 4 lbs of feed, but each feed weighs slightly different per quart.

    There might be a mark on the bottom of the scoop telling the number of quarts it holds. I pour a couple quarts of water into a scoop and see how much it holds(when holding it like I do when I fill it with feed).

    If you have a small food portion scale, you can measure out one measuring cup of the feed, weigh it, and then multiply by 8 (2 quart scoop) or 12 (3 quart scoop), to get the weight per scoop.

    If you have a bigger scale, you can weigh the bagged feed per meal, and you can weigh your hay. That can help a lot.

    ....hay.....eating it more now.....in a hay rack....he's eating just fine.

    Maybe you mean he wasn't eating much hay at first? That would contribute to weight loss.

    ....quality grains and fattening supplements....I don't like seeing any ribs on my horses......

    Horse folk have very strong feelings about horse feed brands and types! You'll get a lot of very um...'passionate' responses as to what you MUST feed. You will be told you mustn't feed grains (oats, corn etc), mustn't feed over a certain amount of starch/fat/sugar, mustn't this, mustn't that.

    Myself, after feeding many different things over the years, I feel that simplest is best. I don't feed supplements. I want the bagged feed I pick to match the horse's needs without supplementing. I look at ingredients, the percentage of protein, fat, minerals on the bag tag, and basics like that.

    Horse feeds have undergone a lot of changes over the years. Right now, there's an emphasis on feeding low starch, low sugar feeds. Fat is considered a 'safer' way to put on weight. With a horse that needs to gain weight, I am less concerned about starch levels, but still worry about sugar. I don't worry about a little bit added on for 'palatability.'

    I shy away from any manufacturer that has had a recent...'accident'....like a cattle feed mixed in with the horse feed, which can make horses sick or even kill them. Right now, Buckeye states they have a guarantee they won't ever use a mill that mills cattle feed. So Buckeye it is. For now.

    Rather than stump for a specific feed product, I'd suggest this -

    Measure his height. Then weigh how much hay and bagged feed he gets now, and weigh him, weekly, and write it down in a little notebook.

    Have a look at the horse condition rating systems, there's a good one that goes from 1-10. Rate his condition. Have the vet come out(if there is a delay til the vet can come, I'd throw the horse more hay in the meantime...), and do his teeth(a vet with a specialty practice in dentistry is ideal - I use a dentistry vet for the teeth and another vet for everything else). Collect a fecal sample right before the vet arrives and have the vet do a 'fecal' to check for parasites. Have the vet rate the horse's condition.

    Now you have a condition rating, the teeth and fecal addressed, and you know how much the horse needs to gain.

    Now you only have about a zillian feed options, LOL. And every horse person will tell you to feed something different.

    My suggestion(without even seeing the horse so...) - you may need to get in a better quality hay for your Thoroughbred, if what you're feeding now is a coarser stemmed hay with few leaves (perfect for easy keepers, but maybe not a Thoroughbred). You might need to get him a different bagged feed, a little higher in fat.

    Make any changes to the feed - gradually - over 3 weeks or so, with only a small amount of change per day(not more than 1/4 lb change in bagged feed a day). A higher fat bagged feed might cause faster weight gain, but keep in mind that most only have a few %s higher fat, and...others here will disagree, but I am really not a fan of feeding fat supplements, dousing the feed with oil, or anything like that. I would rather feed more forage, a better quality forage(meaning more nutrients per pound) and more bagged feed and see the weight be put on slower, over a month or two.

  5. Idrivetrotter

    Idrivetrotter Senior Member

    May 18, 2004
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    This is my "for what it's worth" on weight gain, as I have had many a dozen OTTB and OTSTB come through my barn. I start off with treatment for ulcers, 30 days is usually enough, then I do supplement with a digestive aide (I use ULC-R Aid with fantastic results) . I also have quality forage as the basis for all weight gain, I use a T/A mix as well as soaked beet pulp and alfalfa cubes. I do use a slow feeder hay net so the horse can nibble for hours instead of vacuuming hay up and going hours without forage, another leading cause and contributor of ulcers. Personal preference, but I do use a Senior Feed that is low starch/high fat and outside of digestive and insect control, I do not supplement anything else.

    This has worked very well with me and having my TBs and STBs in fantastic weight. I'm the first to feed alfalfa to racing stock, they just do so well on it. TBs and some STBs are just like having a high end super car, they require higher octane fuel to run properly and I've no problems feeding them that with alfalfa. Forage first is my motto.
    Mcdreamer likes this.
  6. Circle C

    Circle C Senior Member

    Mar 9, 2005
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    RUn a bucket of KER Equisure through him, put him on a low starch/sugar & high fat feed, free choice good quality hay, deworming schedule, lots of turnout. Wait 6 months.
    Charliemyheart and Idrivetrotter like this.
  7. AprilFools

    AprilFools Registered

    Mar 16, 2018
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    Could be that he’s hit a growth spurt and jyst needs to fill out? Also, as you already know they come off the track “super fit n trim” so you will see some rib. Without refreshing my OTTB days of rescue; Rice bran or beet pulp? Unlimited good hay source 24/7. How about a supplement formulated to absorb all the nutrition from the feed that he eats-Ration Plus used to be a go-to for me and my OTTB. I have also had to use RedCell to but I don’t think that would be anything for your boy.

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