There are lots of possible reasons why a horse is underweight but the starting point is to simply ensure that enough energy is being supplied for the horse’s size and workload. Total intake should be between 2 and 2.5% of bodyweight and this should be made up of as high quality feed materials as possible – investing in the best forage you can will help to keep your overall feed bill down. It is important to rule out health issues such as worms and poor dentition as no matter what you feed, your horse still won’t gain weight if they can’t eat or digest the feed properly.
The answer to this is it depends on what is in the bucket! If you are using a chopped fibre feed such as Alfa-A Oil then it is very voluminous and so a bucketful is probably about 1.5kgs (check this number!). The key thing is also that it is a high fibre feed and so can be thought of in the same way as forage – you wouldn’t be worried about feeding a bucketful of hay. High fibre feeds don’t overload the digestive system in the same way that cereal based feeds can and so it is perfectly acceptable to feed them in bigger quantities in one bucket. In fact, if your horse spends all night eating a big bucket of chopped fibre, it is a much more natural way to feed than giving a small meal of cereals. Horses would spend 16-18 hours a day grazing and the more we can replicate this in the stable the better.
With cereal based feeds, giving more than 1.5kgs in each feed is likely to reduce the efficiency with which the nutrients are absorbed and increases the risk of digestive upsets. It is far better to introduce a 4th feed than carry on with 3 large meals.
As the nutritional value of grass decreases, this is the time that horses are most likely to start to lose condition, particularly if they are older or in work.
Some horses do not maintain their body weight easily and it can prove a real challenge to keep them at the perfect weight. Our nutrition team explain the benefits and features of each of the Dengie conditioning fibres feeds that are based on alfalfa.
Some horses do not maintain their bodyweight easily and it can prove a real challenge to keep them in tip-top condition. Dengie nutritionist Tracey Hammond, MSc (Dist), provides some handy advice to help keep your horse looking its best.
A high fibre diet is the best thing for your horse. For a trouble-free winter take a look at the range of fibre feeds from Dengie.
If you want your horse to look his best, a balanced diet is vital to produce good coat condition.