Need some help fattening up a rescue horse...(a little long)

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by sred98, Aug 21, 2008.

  1. sred98

    sred98 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 18, 2008
    We received a Throroughbred from a relative who purchased him at the auction. He is a sweetie and was really underweight. We had him vetted, but I don't think she was thorough enough. She said he was hypothyroid and put him on one scoop of L-Thyrine a day. He is also on 2 scoops of Fat Cat supplement, 2 cups of Natural Glo Nuggets, a 12% purina sweet feed, and a high fat that I think is called Sportsman's Choice. Our other horse that we got at the same time, and was on about half the grain and supplements is now a complete fattie, and looks wonderful. The Thoroughbred has gained some weight, but it still way to skinny to even think about riding, or doing any strenuous exercise. We do ground work with him and very light longeing. Does anyone have any really good high fat supplements or feeds that have worked for you? We've had him since about the first of July. I think he should have shown much more improvement by now. The vet won't come back out and do another blood test, but I am wondering if he is getting enough thyroid medicine. I upped it to 1 1/2 scoops last week, and he seems to be picking up weight slowly. Also, he is on grass (bermuda) pasture, and has access to round bales 24/7.

    My DH was wondering about using a vegetable oil on his food (like olive or corn) for extra fat. Can we do this? How much? I don't like the idea of pouring oil all over his food, I think it will make a mess. What other fruits and veggies can he have for snacks? He is a very picky eater and won't touch carrots or apples. I guess I could join a Thoroughbred forum, but thought y'all would have some ideas. He is full-blood, and is such a sweetie. Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated.



    (edited to add that he is between 7-8 years old and his teeth are in excellent shape and was recently vet wormed.)
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2008
  2. jmhappycowboy

    jmhappycowboy The Egg Wrangler

    Dec 13, 2007
    Philadelphia, MS
    Shelly, I have always used Corn Oil when feeding an underweight horse and have always had great results from using this. I feed an 8 oz cup and pour over the feed, and have never had a problem with it being messy, and the horses seem to really like it.

    I would give it a try if I was you. I know some that don't like feeding this but I have always had great results from it. You can look at the pic of my stallion (My Avatar) when I got him back he was starved so bad that the vet said he was within 24 hours of being dead but within 6 months he was looking great.

  3. helmstead

    helmstead Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 12, 2007
    Alfordsville, IN
    Instead of the sweet feed, I'd use a beet pulp based senior feed like Triple Crown. Also, you can add 1-2 cups of BOSS to the ration. Stablized rice bran is great, too (and is included in the TC Senior). I don't like oil, it IS messy and there is research out there that says it might coat the intestines and not allow full absorbtion of nutrients.

    You mention grass hay. I always use alfafa or alfalfa mix when I have a skinny horse.

    You might treat him for ulcers. There are great OTC meds for this, they're very common in TBs.

    Did he have his teeth floated?
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2008
  4. geareduplyn

    geareduplyn Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 2, 2008
    Salley SC
    A small quanity of Black Oil Sunflower twice a day will do wonders.
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2008
  5. lleighmay

    lleighmay Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 21, 2008
    Woodlawn, VA
    I too have a rescued TB who was starved when I got him. He was 21 at the time and not an easy keeper. I got the weight back on him by feeding 1 dry quart of beet pulp mixed with a quart of warm water (let it stand for a while until hydrated) with about 1/2 cup corn oil poured over that and mixed in, and all of this stirred in with 2 1/2 lbs of 12% feed 2x/day. I got his weight up to where it should be and 6 yrs. later he still looks great and not at all like he's 27 yoa. To be sure and keep his weight up in the winter when he has a tendency to go down a little I give him the above treatment 1x/day along with his regular feed. Both my horses also get timothy/alfalfa cubes through the winter (kind of expensive but I know the quality of what they're getting and there's no waste). They also graze a 50 acre section free choice. Good luck with your new baby!
  6. CountryMom

    CountryMom Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 21, 2008
    South Texas
    From my experience Thoroughbreds do take more feed to keep them up to weight. However, that being said, I am definitely not a fan of all these supplements other than ones for medicated purposes. Like I use one for joints for my older cutting horses. I tried some weight gain type supplement years ago on some horses and truly didn't see any marked gain for the cost and bother of getting the horse to eat it. I find you can get a horse to gain more weight without being hyped up by feeding natural feeds like good quality hay. Oils are just a mess in my opinion and have yet to see a horse really benefit from them. Being on hay 24/7 won't do a thing unless the hay is good quality. You can have it tested - just contact your local extention agent for help. Also, look for a good quality feed. So many people buy cheap sweet feed and don't realize that you pay for what you get. I would even suggest trying a bag of purina senior equine to help him digest his food better. I used that on one of my mares after she aborted and was really ill. She looked horrible after a week of treatments at the vets to get her cleaned up. She was 7 at the time and it was amazing how healthy that feed helped her get.

    All that Said, first and foremost, get his teeth floated, and worm him slowly over a period of days with Panacur. It is easier on their stomachs than ivermectin and really gets the job done with the extended dosage. If the horse cannot chew and you are just feeding the worms in his gut you cannot get far with his weight gain.

    The only other thing I have used - and still do in the winter time - is beet pulp. I soak it good because it can cause a horse to choke if fed dry. I add it to my older guys feed and it really keeps them at a healthy weight with a shiny coat.

    Hope that helps
  7. Bi0sC0mp

    Bi0sC0mp Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 21, 2008
    hi.. we have owned many TB"S in the past alot where resuce and retired race track horses..first thing i need to know is the age of the horse. alot of older tb"s wont put on wieght if you can get them to its kinds of hard... you need a good senior feed for one that will help the horse out alot.. also you can feed the horse some rice bran pellets to help put on some weight also like others have said give him some beet pulp and make sure he gets plenty of fresh hay and in time he will start putting it back on
  8. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    I agree with pretty much all of the above. A few additional thoughts:

    Your best friend is the very best-of-the-best hay that you can possibly obtain, preferably alfalfa or alfalfa mix (and not jusst alfalfa stems, GOOD alfalfa hay). Being a skinny TB he will probably need grain too, I'm not saying to stop graining him, but hay QUALITY can make a huge difference. Feed it free-choice so there is always some fresh stuff in front of him.

    Yes, oil on his grain is a bit messy but it is really one of your cheapest and most effective ways of adding calories as long as he'll eat it (some will, some not so much). Start with just a very small amount at first and work up gradually. BTW, what *amount* of grain is he getting?

    If you haven't already, I'd have *several* fecal flotations done on him a week or two apart, each (they're not expensive, you just grab some of his fresh poo in a baggie and drive it to the vet's office). And, what has he been wormed with and when? If a horse has a heavy worm load, sometimes the usual plan is not sufficient.

    Have his teeth been checked/floated by a GOOD dentist?

    If you can afford it, some people would treat presumptively for ulcers, either the 'real' version with horse ulcer medications (which I warn you are expensive, but which if a horse DOES have ulcers can make a big change); or the version where you pour large amounts of human versions into the horse (I've never done this, you'd have to look it up, but it is not that uncommonly done and by word of mouth including from vets I gather there may be some reason to believe it sometimes helps). After a month or two you should have a good idea of whether it's helping or not, and it is not something you'd be likely to continue for more than several months anyhow. (THe reason btw that a number of vets suggest doing it presumptively is because the equipment for actually diagnosing ulcers in horses is not all that widely available and thus ka-ching.)

    I would not worry about him not wanting carrots/apples, that's not uncommon in ex-racehorses and frankly you're better off with him using his limited tummy-space for more useful feeds (higher caloric content, higher protein).

    Finally, how old is this horse - if he has been skinny for some while and is older, it will be a slow uphill battle to pack weight on. If he is fairly recently off the track (like, within 3-4 months, or even within a year and a half if he was just turned out in a pasture and forgotton prior to being sent to auction) then that is another not uncommon reason for TBs to be real hard to put weight on, and sometimes time is your best friend there. (Their metabolism has to undergo a HUGE shift when the are taken out of training).

    Good luck,

  9. halo

    halo Got The Blues

    Nov 22, 2007
    My Coop
    The beet pulp is an excellent idea. You can feed a lot of it, and horses can't founder on it. If the horse came from auction, and came from the track prior to that, its highly likely he has ulcers, especially since he's a picky eater. Gastrogard is the treatment of choice, but its highly expensive. Theres a lot of ulcer treatments you can feed that will help. One I use on all my horses that come home from the track is aloe vera juice. I get it by the gallons at Walmart. Feed a cup a day, you can pour it right over the beet pulp.

    You can buy generic Zantac for them. It won't heal the ulcers, but will make him more comfortable to where he'll start eating better. You can often get a large bottle of them from a pharmacy; you shouldnt need a prescription for them. We buy the 150 mg. Zantac and give them 9 pills morning and evening.

    Triple Crown is a great feed, but expensive. You can buy beet pulp shreds from the feed store. Do NOT buy beet pulp pellets...horses choke on them all the time. Take a scoop or two and soak them for 10 or 15 minutes; add your supplements and some sweet feed. Thats my basic recipe when my horses come home; it helps them gain weight safely.
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2008
  10. BeardedChick

    BeardedChick Chillin' With My Peeps

    I was going to write a note but I see Pat more than covered everything. [​IMG]

    Good luck getting some weight on your guy, and remember it's a slow process... It may take 6 months or more to get him up to the weight that you want. Just aim for steady gains in his condition.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by