Condition and Weight Loss

 

Condition

You have probably reached this page because your horse has been losing weight, become skinny and thin and is lacking condition.

condition-horse

Horses drop weight, lose condition and become thin and poor because of an inadequate supply of essential nutrients! The fat cover is used up first to meet your horse’s daily energy requirement. When that is exhausted muscle and other high-protein tissue gets broken down, leading in extremis to the poor example on the right. 

Horseheath Nutrition products have been used very successfully for many years to promote weight gain and restore lost condition to thin horses, and then maintain it, as you can see from the testimonials page. 

Causes of Equine Weight Loss

  • Human error – Underfeeding! If in doubt seek advice – you should invest in weighing equipment – many feed merchants and tack shops stock spring balances for weighing hay nets and kitchen scales can be used for feed scoops.
  • Insufficient/Poor quality protein: Muscle consists of protein. Proteins consist of amino acids. All animals require a daily supply of suitable quality protein (must contain enough essential amino acids, e.g. lysine, methionine, etc) to maintain muscle and other protein. Hard working or growing animals have a much greater need for good quality protein.  
  • Illness suppressing appetite or impairing digestion: e.g. gut tumours, colic, scour, gastric and colonic ulcers, etc.  Consult your vet.
  • Stress: e.g. bullying, travelling. Stallions are notoriously prone to weight loss during the covering season.
  • Worn or damaged teeth preventing a horse chewing its food properly, impairing food digestion.
  • Inadequate worming – serious damage can be caused to the gut, liver and blood vessels, which will cause condition and weight loss (as above) and ultimately death. Do not omit tapeworm from your worming programme!  
  • Other parasites e.g. lice, mange, etc can in extremis have a debilitating effect.
  • Age – A horse’s digestive system will become less efficient over time. A number of veterans, including some toothless geriatrics (equine) have had their lives extended considerably with Horseheath products.

Restoring Condition

  1. Address the management problems listed above.
  2. Check the diet –  if necessary complete the nutrition section of the website’s contact form so that John Chapman can evaluate it. Ensure good quality forage is available ad-lib.
  3. Increase the protein and energy content of your horse’s feed by adding full fat soya and/or micronised (cooked) linseed to the diet. Other quality sources include copra, milk powder, cooked peas and cooked beans.
  4. If the condition loss is only moderate, feeding the following Horseheath products may suffice:  Body-Builda™, Acceler>8™ (formerly Equi-Builda™), LinGold™, Stud Mix, Competition & Racing Mix. See Products page.

A horse requires a minimum of 1% of its bodyweight per day of dry fibre to keep its gut working properly. A 500 kg horse will therefore need 5.7kg (12.5lb) of hay (12% moisture content) or 8.3 kg of haylage (30% moisture). In practice it will need rather more (to satisfy its chewing urge) and can eat up to around 3% of its bodyweight in fibre. A typical small hay bale weighs around 20kg/44lb; a stabled horse will normally require around 1/2 bale/day. If in doubt weigh your haynet!  Especially if you are feeding hay or haylage from large bales.

Significant weight loss will involve muscle wastage; weight gain requires top quality protein, which you will find in these Horseheath products: Full-fat soya(either meal or flakes) and Full-fat cooked linseed meal (ready to use); Horseheath BodyBuilda & Horseheath Competition & Stud Mix. The 2 latter contain substantial starch so will not be suitable for horses resting or in light work.

Click to go to the Products page for more details.

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