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Abby P

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If you're only feeding one pound of alfalfa hay I would think you could up that safely. Might just want to add magnesium, at least, in some form to compensate for the high calcium in alfalfa. But I would always try to increase forage before resorting to bagged feeds, presuming the horse has teeth. 🤣

I wouldn't feed the ration balancer above the recommended amounts since it will OD him on minerals. I would say either add some senior feed or up the alfalfa!
 

MaryFlora

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You’re right, 7# is normally a lot! We started with 4# and then added a bit each day up to 7#. He finished everything at every feeding and it took about 2 months for Buddy to get back up to a good solid weight. Once there, he stayed at 7# with no problems at all.

I think pellets digest and absorb differently than alfalfa hay?
 

chandab

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You’re right, 7# is normally a lot! We started with 4# and then added a bit each day up to 7#. He finished everything at every feeding and it took about 2 months for Buddy to get back up to a good solid weight. Once there, he stayed at 7# with no problems at all.

I think pellets digest and absorb differently than alfalfa hay?
How big is Buddy? Whether or not, 7# is a lot, depends on the size of the horse in question.
 

DianaM

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Try tums. When my mare seems off, I give her a handful and it neutralizes stomach acid and she perks right up. My friend with racehorses say they used to give them alkaline water.
 

MaryFlora

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Hi Chandab, good point! Buddy was 37” and weighed in a bit under 300#. The 7# seemed like a lot as my other minis are 34“ and under so receive less!
 

Kelly

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Yes Stormy has teeth 🤣

Great article!
In reference to that article, the section:
Steps to Putting on the Pounds:
1. Rates & measures: Yes I do weigh everything by pounds
2. Forage first: it says better hay, so I am going to up his alfalfa another pound a day. How much do you think I could go up to? I think 7 pounds is way too much for him LOL LOL 😜 He is more on the petite side. 💕 I don’t mind the extra work soaking things, I just worry if I go out of town and have to have my horse-sitter come in 😊
3. Kick up the Carbs: he Isn’t getting any grain, nor oats, nor corn. Could this be where he is lacking? 🤔 IDK
4. Feed Fat to Add Fat: I have added the Manna Pro Weight Accelerator, so that’s good I think
5. Break Time: yeah right, nobody gets a break around here, it’s go, go, GO! 😍


Tums? Interesting. How big is your horse? A hand full? I am so conservative that I would be like here is your 1 Tums Stormy LOL 😘

If these steps don’t work or he loose any weight, I will be taking him to the vet!! 🥰

And thank you guys for all the wonderful ideas and suggestions, I really appreciate it!!
 

Dragon Hill

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No grain of any kind? All mine get senior feed (except Jaci) even my fatso gets a handful (1/4 cup). I like the senior feed because it has forage built in and it's easy to chew and digest. I would definitely consider adding a grain (very slowly). I'm not sure which would be best for Stormy. I know a lot of horses do better without any grain, but I feel better feeding some to every one. But I do believe in grain free days on a regular basis, depending on weather (and horse).
And I'm sure some will disagree with everything I just said.
 

chandab

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Stormy for his current size could conceivably have upto about 2.5# alfalfa daily, but if he's going to get that much alfalfa, something to balance the minerals in alfalfa would be a good idea. So, either an alfalfa formula ration balancer (Chewy carries Tribute Alfa Essentials and Buckeye Gro N Win Alfa), only about 1/4# daily max or an alfalfa formula vit/min supplement such as MVP Mega Mag (I get it from Smartpak, a mini his size would probably only need 1/2 scoop). Balancing the minerals in his diet may help with the weight.
[There are other alfalfa formula ration balancers, but which ones available to you, will depend on where you are located.]
 

JFNM miniatures

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Kelly, it was an excellent idea to resume the article vs what you already do! :) Gives us a good idea of what you are already doing... and you're doing a great job! Now, Stormy has his part of the contract to fill! 😆

Like you said, I actually think you would need to add in carbs at this point…and while I don’t give my horses grain (they do get a ration balancer with all the missing vitamins minerals etc), I actually agree with Dragon Hill… you should try adding grain… slowly of course, and then be consistent for a while to see what the results are. Of course, only once you found a feed that best suits Stormy.

As for going to see the vet… just a thought: have you had the vet take a fecal count recently? I’m guessing yes, as I said, just an idea… :)
 

Kelly

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Yeah, I agree! I just have to figure out which grain he likes & can tolerate. It seems to be about 3 weeks then he won’t eat it anymore. Back in Sept I tried the Purina Senior, he was starting to look good (or should I say better) then 3 weeks later he was showing signs of ulcers. I just tried the Strategy HE, the end of Dec and 3 weeks later he won’t eat it anymore, no signs of ulcers this time. 🥳

So I’ll keep him on the ration balancer for a while, then try something else. I am open for suggestions. Maybe it is the Purina products? IDK? 🤔 Maybe I should try plain oats? He might find that too boring…. Maybe a sweet feed?? I think he needs the added calories for sure…. He does like sugar 😍

I do worm everyone 4 times a year, they are due now, but I doubt that is the problem 🤪
 
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Silver City Heritage Farmstead

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Hi Kelly!🤗

You have some good tips above. I'd like to add a couple of things. First, the ration balancers are designed to supplement hay or pasture (grass, mixed or alfalfa) forages. If you need to switch to a grain, it would normally replace the ration balancers. When fed AS DIRECTED, they are designed to have the necessary MINIMUMS of a horse's energy and mineral needs included. You already weigh his feed, so you need to remember to feed at his DESIRED weight, not current weight. You've increased his activity levels by driving and taking him on outing. That means he's burning more calories.

For newbies reading this thread, she would slowly make the switch from her current ration balancer to her new feed over 7-10 days. Each day part of the old feed is replaced with the new feed, then quantity is slowly increased as well. I give 60 days minimum for a new feed program assessment unless it's obvious it's not working.

Second, you might want to ask your vet about putting him on an ulcer medication for 45 days to see if that helps. The Tums suggestion helps alleviate symptoms. Omeprazole (active ingredient in ulcergard) or Ranitidine treat ulcers and reduce symptoms. I treated a Shetland colt with OTC omeprazole. One tablet (not slow/extended release), crushed and mixed with 3 cc applesauce, tubed into his mouth. He liked it!

I hope you find the right feed program that works for you!

Oh, one last thing...maybe you could used soaked alfalfa cubes instead of pellets? Tejano preferred cubes, soaked just until fluffy like thick oatmeal. He didn't care for soupy dinners.
 

Abby P

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I agree with everything that has been said but would just add that I'd give a chance for the hay change to take effect and also consider your base hay. I have never used coastal hay but from what I understand it can be fairly low in nutrition overall. So he may just need more protein and more calories due to his increased workload, so maybe the coastal hay as the basis of his diet just isn't enough any more. The alfalfa hay could fix that and if you can get good alfalfa hay then I'd say that's better by far than cubes or pellets since a) you don't have to soak the hay, and b) cubes and pellets have a lot of excess iron in them due to the processing they undergo/dirt trapped in them.

Honestly since he's had issues with not wanting to eat complete feeds, and with ulcers, I'd try him on second cut grass hay (not coastal, like timothy/orchard) if you can get it as his base, mixed with the alfalfa hay, and see how he does on that. It has been a rare horse I've encountered (barring ones lacking teeth) that didn't gain weight on second cut grass hay plus alfalfa - even hard-keeping Thoroughbreds in heavy work. My general philosophy is that I would try the horse on as much good quality hay as they will eat, and only if that doesn't result in maintenance of a good weight, add other bagged feeds. You can sneak in some more calories along with the ration balancer by adding something like, I think, Amplify, which is a fat supplement, here it is:


It's pretty high-test and also does have some minerals added so just be sure to take that into account if you feed it, there is selenium which needs to be watched.

Or just rice bran, my big horse would eat that dry, he loved it. I think it's the base of Amplify anyway. But Amplify is a pellet-ish thing (kind of looks like cat food) so might be easier to feed. Come to think of it there might be pelleted rice brans available too.
 

Taz

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Everything said is good advice. Just adding that if he's having problems with ulcers/stops eating after a few weeks on grain don't keep trying him on grain. Grain is bad for ulcers especially hind gut. Better quality hay, beet pulp and fat is what I'd be trying one at at time for at least 3-4 weeks before adding more something else. Basically what has already been said ;)
 

Kelly

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Thank you!!!

Here I was thinking it was possibly Purina products upsetting him, but you are saying it is grain period. Ahhh good to know!! So he probably won’t ever be able to be on grain? Definitely good to know.

Also thanks for being very specific!! You say better hay quality to me that means alfalfa. Around here the most common hays are alfalfa or coastal. Those are the only 2 found in those big hay trucks out back that the guys load up. Now I did find a bag of Timothy compressed hay, 1 bag, at my local feed store. Then I called around and TSC does have a couple of bags too. So I do think I will be able to find the Timothy hay, just might have to search a little more for it, it isn’t as readily available as the coastal.

The only orchard I can find is for rabbits 😝 LOL or orchard/alfalfa pellet mix.

Light bulb moments, thank all of you so much! I’ll keep you updated and let you know how he is doing once I get him changed over (very slowly!) 💕

It is funny how you get so use of doing something and get stuck in one frame of mind, so thanks again for all the suggestions!!
 

Abby P

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It's also really different in different areas of the country. I'm not sure about those compressed timothy bales at TSC - they are probably? first cut. But still, first cut timothy may have more nutrition in it than coastal, of course it just varies by grower and exact grass species too.

One place you could check into is if you have any TB racetracks nearby - they often ship in second cut grass hay from the north and may be able to put you in touch with a supplier.

When I moved to CA from the northeast I had a "who's on first" conversation with the owner of the barn I was going to be boarding at. What do you feed? Alfalfa and oat. Alfalfa and oats? No, oat. Just one oat? Finally figured out they meant oat HAY. Never had even heard of that before! Up there it was possible to get large square bales of grass hay or even a grass/alfalfa mix that was like rocket fuel, I think it was mostly grown in Oregon in irrigated fields, or in western Canada. Here most feed store hay comes either from Canada or from upstate NY and it is danged near impossible to get baled alfalfa that is suitable for horses, hence everyone suggesting cubes! Anyway, if you call around to different feed stores you might find one that trucks in hay from somewhere northern and would have some second cutting.
 

Kelly

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It’s soooooo cold outside so I thought I’d give you an…

Update, update! 😁

I feel Stormy up everyday! 🤣 Last week or so I thought “hmm, is there a tiny layer of fat now covering your little ribs?” And there is! There is! Stormy is finally gaining some weight and in the middle of winter to boot! So exciting! I’ve been trying to get weight on him since fall.

I think the above article was right, Stormy just needed more groceries. He isn’t one to fight for food, he will walk away instead of arguing with anyone, he would starve to death instead of bicker…. Such a sweet little boy 💕

Here is how I got Stormy to finally start gaining some weight. I’m not sure how long he will stay on this feeding program or if I will have to make more tweaks along the way.

I plan to switch all my minis over to Timothy as their base hay. We are just waiting for tiny little Thunder to catch up. 😍

Stormy is out on dead winter pasture from 9-4pm with unlimited Timothy hay (and coastal, but they prefer the Timothy) about 3-4 pounds, he splits it with Breezy. No hay nets.

He is separated by himself and I do feed twice daily. This is the total of what I feed him daily:
2 pounds Alfalfa hay
.5 pounds Strategy healthy edge
2 tsp Weight Accelerator
1/2 tsp Electrolytes

So, so far so good! Hopefully he’ll be nice and plump soon, then I’ll be asking “how do I get my fatty thin” 🤣🤣
 

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