Some owners are unsure of what to feed an underweight horse so in an attempt to add some condition to their equine, owners may turn to high calorie, sugar-fuelled feeds with the usual accompanying fillers and nasties too. The issue with achieving weight gain through this type of feed is it isn’t particularly healthy weight your horse is gaining.
We all know from a young age that eating too much junk food or sugary treats comes with the added risk of acne, bloating, dental issues, diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol, heart disease and stroke. We also know that weight gain achieved through a combination of healthier food groups means we can achieve said weight gain should we need to, without the risks that often accompany over-eating of the wrong food. Needing your horse to receive a higher amount in calories doesn’t have to mean feeding your horse with feeds, grass and hay packed with sugar.
When we try to increase our horse’s weight through lush grass, unsuitable hay like rye hay or non-species appropriate feeds, we then also increase the risk of EMS, IR, obesity and Laminitis (sub-clinical, acute and chronic) to name a few. If you horse is already metabolically challenged or prone to Laminitis, then this of course will do more damage than good.
If we’re presented with an underweight horse and their teeth have been checked, we make sure that all their nutritional needs are being met – for example, do they have enough fibre in their diet? As we already feed adlib meadow hay, we turn to the likes of Micronized Linseed and Coolstance Copra to help with weight gain, which work particularly well in Winter for those that are known to drop their weight when cold. We usually mix this in with Thunderbrook Meadow Nuts or Hay Cobs for additional fibre and taste. You can also add Linseed oil which increases the calories received without bulking out their feed too much - too much hard feed can put them off their hay which they need to eat continually throughout the day as their source of high fibre.