How to Promote Weight Gain in Horses with Gastric Ulcers

Weight loss can be a symptom of gastric ulcers and usually when the problem is resolved with veterinary intervention the weight will come back on. The main advice for feeding horses with gastric ulcers is to feed a high fibre diet to encourage plenty of chew time and saliva production, and to reduce the amount of starch in the ration.

Tips for feeding for weight gain in horses with gastric ulcers

  • Establish what and how much your horse is eating to identify areas for improvement
  • Turning out 24/7 on good quality grazing will go a long way to helping with weight gain as for most horses grazing at certain times of the year can easily exceed their energy requirements!
  • For horses that spend some or all of their time stabled then forage is the foundation. Choose earlier cut hays or haylage where possible as they will be more digestible and therefore supply more energy or calories for weight gain.
  • Use multiple sources of forage especially for fussy feeders to encourage foraging behaviour and potentially increased forage intake.
  • In the feed bucket use more digestible fibre sources such as alfalfa and unmolassed sugar beet combined with oil to reduce the reliance on starch as an energy source. Alfalfa naturally has a calorie level comparable to a pasture or cool mix and when combined with oil as in Dengie Alfa-A Oil or Dengie Healthy Tummy has a calorie level comparable to a conditioning mix or cube.
  • If energy requirements, fussiness or limited appetite dictate use small feeds of conditioning mixes or cubes, preferably those higher in fibre and oil and lower in starch, in addition to a small quantity, ½-1 scoop, of alfalfa based feeds for extra buffering potential. Independent research at Texas A&M University found that feeding alfalfa with concentrate feed significantly reduced the severity of gastric ulceration in horses in training. Click here to read about the study in further detail.