In farms all across the world, a lot of horses feed with each other in a barn at certain times every single day. This makes it easier for the horse owners and establishes a routine for the horses. They come to expect feed at a certain time every single day. However, sometimes there is a horse in the bunch that just isn’t putting on weight. They are eating the same diet and it can be confusing as to why they are not gaining weight while the others are just fine and appear healthy in weight.
A lot of times, owners will get a vet out to check the horse for any medical issues. And in many cases, the vet can find no underlying condition that explains the lack of weight gain. This can be a real puzzle to solve for the horse owner. If there is no underlying medical condition, what could be making this horse skinny when they are eating like the rest of the horses?
The questions start running through the mind. What could I do to help this horse gain weight? There are some things that can be done to help a skinny horse put on weight and the reasons why it might be occurring.
Metabolism Of a Skinny Horse
A skinny horse may be skinny just because they have a fast metabolism. A fast metabolism means that they burn more calories at rest or while moving than other horses. This is just like some human beings have a fast metabolism and some do not. Horses that have a fast metabolism need more calories to sustain their bodies and their weights than those with a slower one. Some horse owners call skinny horses a “hard keeper”. They are called a hard keeper because they are harder to keep healthy than the average horse.
Hard keepers will definitely require more work than the average horse. This is because you will have to monitor their weight more closely and ensure that their diet is sufficient. A horse with a fast metabolism is going to need more calories and more protein and fat as well as carbohydrates.
Hard keepers are often the nervous sort. They like to move around a lot and are much more active than the standard horse. This makes it even harder to keep weight on them as they are burning a lot of calories from moving around a lot. Sometimes it just takes a denser feed or it will require a new type of feed that has higher fat content than average.
Feed That Can Help Skinny Horses Gain Weight
A skinny horse that needs to gain weight may need higher quality or denser type of feed. One of the most important elements of the feed in a skinny horse is fiber. Fiber is essential for the horse and is found in the grasses and hays that most horses eat. They need fiber for processing energy and calories in the body and for processing fatty acids.
There is a reason that fatty acids are called essential fatty acids. Fatty acids need to be consumed for optimal horse health. An equine that doesn’t have fiber cannot properly process fatty acids. This is why fiber is so vital for their health and metabolically. It allows their body to process the calories efficiently and correctly.
Fresh grass is great for skinny horses as it contains more fiber and often higher quality. Many horses love to graze on grass and getting them to the freshest grass will help if they are too thin. It allows for more digestible fiber and is good for their bodies. Fresh grass grazing for skinny horses that need to put on weight could be helpful in adding some extra pounds.
Probiotics for horses may be helpful. They can help with digestion and in holding on to more calories. Equine probiotics are available from companies and they will allow for more digestion to occur and also help with the gut flora.
Gut flora has a direct impact on health and immunity. This has become apparent in recent years as scientific studies have come out and confirmed that gut flora and bacteria are more important than previously thought. The bacteria in the stomach being bad bacteria can cause a host of health issues and even make it harder to digest foods. Immunity can be affected if the gut flora is unbalanced or carrying bad bacteria. Probiotics are full of good bacteria that are great for stomach flora.
Also, ensuring that hay is high quality will be helpful. Hay that has fiber along with the other essential nutrients can make it easier for a skinny horse to start gaining a bit of weight.
Starch For Skinny Horses To Put on Weight
While hay and grass are essential to a horse for feed, starch from grains makes a great way to add calories to a horse’s diet. Starch and grains contain carbohydrates and carbohydrates make it easier to put on weight. Grains contain starches and the calories are digested rather quickly. They can be used for the body to store energy and that energy is in the form of fat.
Digestibility is vital for skinny horses. Making sure that the starch and grains are in a high quality and digestible form is crucial. Oat feed seems to be the most easily digestible among all of the different starches that are in horse feed. Corn feed that is steamed helps with digestibility. Starch being added in a highly digestible form can definitely help a skinny horse gain weight.
There are other types of starch that can help horses. Barley and beet can be added for help in calorie and energy density. Starch in the form of grass can help as well.