At times, the horse may be too skinny such that the owner may want to boost its body conditions and weight. It may be because the horse is recovering from surgery, parasitic infection or illness. It might also be due to the hard keeper and less pasture access among others. You might also rescue or purchase a horse that has less fat around the body or rib area or it might even be undernourished. In this case, you will be needed to look for best horse feed for weight gain.
The body condition score range of horses should be between 4 and 6. This number depends on a number of circumstances. If the horse does not fall in the given domain then you will be required to boost its weight and fat in different ways. Those in the range of 1 and 2 are associated with a lack of energy as a result of low intake of nutrients such as fewer vitamins and proteins. Such a range is very detrimental to the horse. It is recommended for the nutritionists, or the veterinary to intervene in order to save the horse. Having knowledge of the horse’s history is very essential.
However, if you are unsure, you should start with small bits of feeds and advance to more feeds with time. You should note that an equine’s diet basic component is foliage. Therefore, the foliage that you provide to your horse should be rich in nutrients. Good quality foliage is essential for the improvement of the weight of your horse. In such a case, alfalfa is one of the best foliage due to its high protein and energy content. In order to give some adaption time to the digestive tract, you should slowly introduce the concentrates to the horse. If the horse is so much affected that it cannot even stand, it is recommended to introduce to them nutrients of intravenous fluids.
Energetics of Weight Gain
Very little data exists in regard to the amount of energy that a skinny horse should take in order for it to weigh more. Moreover, the amount of energy needed for the horse to move from a range of 3-4 or even 4-5 is still a mystery. The only measure available is comparing body scores where a single body score translates to 20kgs of body weight. Another estimate has been made stating that a gain of 1kg of body weight takes approximately 200Mcal. For this case, a horse that weighs 500kgs would need to consume approximately 16.7MCA/day. However, this is not possible within a day hence you will have to wait for some time since weight gaining is a gradual process. Essentially, you will have to feed it with about 4Mcal/day per with a gradual increase in the same quantity every day until the desired body weight is achieved.
Feed Selection for Weight Gain
All the available feeds contain different quantities of digestible energy in regard to every weight unit. Vegetable oils contain approximately 9Mcal/kg, 3.2Mcal/kg is found in commercial concentrates and approximately 1.7-2.2Mcal /kg is found in cereal grains. When feeding your horse in order for it to gain weight, you will realize that the horse will not consume more than 3% of their body weight. You also have to know that high amounts of concentrates would lead to digestive problems to your horse like colic. It can also lead to metabolic issues like insulin resistance and laminitis. This indicates that for induction of body weight, concentrates are not the best to use.
For the increase of body weight, increase the availability of forage to your horse. It helps in adding calories and is also good for the horse’s digestive system. When all the hay has been consumed, you can then add flakes to allow it to have something in the stomach for digestion. You can add roughage chunks along hay cubes for horses that do not like consuming hay. Also provide other sources of fibre like rice bran, wheat bran and beet pulp. Oils are a good way to add weight then you can go for it. Moreover, make sure to add some concentrates and increase the number of meals for horse feed for weight gain.
It doesn’t matter the type of meal that you choose to provide to your horse. All you need to be sure of is that the meal will be able to provide the horse with the number of nutrients that it needs for it to gain weight. Therefore, it is necessary to look at the nutrients composition of the horse feeds before providing it rather than just adding the quantity. However, energy addition is the best way for the horse to add its weight on top of its body maintenance.