Feeding The Overweight Horse
Overweight Horses and Ponies
There has been a lot of media attention directed towards the problems of obesity in humans and as a result even fast food restaurants are starting to serve salads. It should come as no surprise then that it isn't good for our horses and ponies to be overweight either. Carrying too much weight can lead to damage to internal organs, increases the likelihood of limb problems and significantly increases the risk of laminitis. To make sure that your horse or pony isn’t vulnerable to these problems follow our tips for getting and keeping your horse in shape.
Maintaining a sensible bodyweight is all about achieving a balance between energy intake via feed (including grazing and hay) and energy used for maintenance and exercise. In short, energy intake must equal energy expenditure to maintain weight, whilst to lose weight, energy use must be higher than energy intake.
Horses and ponies will eat the equivalent of 2% - 2.5% of their bodyweight per day in total (including hay/grazing). This can be reduced to 1.5% of bodyweight per day to promote weight loss. It is important however to continue to provide adequate fibre to help maintain gut function and to keep them occupied. To do this we would suggest dividing the total daily forage ration into frequent small meals so that the time the horse is without fibre is kept to a minimum. It is better to feed lots of small meals of fibre than two large ones when total intake has to be restricted.
The hardest thing can often be identifying that your horse is overweight. Our illustrated condition scoring guide below will help you to assess your horse accurately.
Knowing your horse's bodyweight is important as it is your guide to knowing how much to feed as well as how much de-wormer to use. Knowing your horse's weight will enable you to ensure that you are not overfeeding and therefore contributing to his weight gain. The most accurate way to measure your horse's weight is to use a weigh bridge. The most practical is to use a weigh tape. If you don't have access to either of these you can use the following calculation.
Length: Measure from the point of the shoulder (not the centre of the chest) to the point of buttock following the curve of the body.
Girth: Measure round the body, making sure that the tape passes over the lowest point of the withers and just behind the elbow.
Suitable Dengie Feeds
Fibre feeds are ideal for good do-er's as they not only add bulk to the diet, but also take longer to eat than the equivalent weight of cubes or mix. Dengie HI-FI GOOD DO-ER is ideal for overweight horses and ponies as it is low calorie and has added vitamins and minerals. When fed at recommended amounts no other feeds or supplements are required. This product allows you to ensure your horse is getting the required amount of fibre he needs to maintain digestive health whilst allowing you to control his calorie intake and help him to loose wieght. It is the lowest calorie horse feed currently available on the UK market. If your horse or pony has a history of laminitis then HI-FI LITE should be used. Formulated specifically for laminitics it is both low in sugar and in calories and should help to facilitate weight loss if fed as part of a calorie controlled diet.
DENGIE HI-FI GOOD DO-ER
- Low energy, high fibre feed (7MJ/Kg).
- Ideal for good do-er’s.
- Added vitamins and minerals.
- Can be used to replace bucket feed and/or as a low energy alternative to hay or haylage.
- With added mint flavour.
DENGIE HI-FI LITE
- Low sugar.
- Low energy, high fibre feed (8MJ/Kg).
- Suitable for the management of laminitis.
- Can be used to replace bucket feed and/or hay, haylage and grazing.
- Feed with a broad spectrum supplement such as Dengie Natural Vitality Leisure Vits & Mins.
TOP TIPS TO AID WEIGHT LOSS
Weight loss must be achieved slowly, avoid crash diets.
- Always provide adequate quantities of hay, haylage or a Dengie Fibre Feed.
- Feed a ration that is low in energy, but high in fibre to satisfy appetite.
- Monitor your horse or pony’s weight weekly, using a weigh tape.
- Increase the amounts of daily exercise.
- Try restricting your horse or pony’s access to grazing using electric fencing or a grazing muzzle.
- Use a small holed haynet to keep your horse occupied for longer.
CONDITION 5 - VERY FAT
CONDITION 4 - FAT
CONDITION 3 - GOOD
CONDITION 2 - MODERATE
CONDITION 1 - POOR
CONDITION 0 - VERY POOR
When making any alterations to your horse or pony’s diet, remember to do so gradually over 5–7 days. If you have any particular feeding problems and require more specific advice, please contact our Feedline on 0845 345 5115