Weight Loss Woes

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Brody

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Hi All,

I am in need of some suggestions and advice. My two minis have been losing weight the last few weeks, and I am having trouble getting it under control. Right now they are still a healthy weight, but just barely, and they are definitely slimmer than I would like them going into winter. They definitely can’t afford to lose any more weight, and preferably will gain some back. I have had both my minis for about 17 years and have NEVER had an issue with them being underweight, my struggle has always been with keeping them from being too fat… so addressing this underweight issue is new territory for my minis and me.

I have three minis- 17-year-old mare, 18 year old gelding, and 5 month old filly. The little filly is doing great – very healthy and a wonderful weight. My mare first started showing some signs of weight loss about 4 weeks ago. In the past several weeks I have upped grain rations, and started weaning the foal last week (though I had planned on waiting until 6 months). Additionally, my mare is likely pregnant again (vet will be out to confirm this in ~ 3 weeks). Had I foreseen weight problems I wouldn’t have bred her back, but it is too late to change that at this point. My gelding first started showing signs of some weight loss a couple weeks ago. By showing signs of weight loss, I don’t mean that it is visible – as they have a lot of winter fur at this point. However, I can feel both their ribs and my mare’s topline has definitely experienced some attrition. After upping rations over the past several weeks I am currently feeding the following – free choice timothy/clover hay – the same hay (from the same field/supplier) that they have had for the past 1 ½ years and done well on. They are each eating about 2 flakes in the am and 2 in the pm, though they have more given them if they clear that up (previously I have typically always fed them half this much – one flake in the am/ one in the pm). Previously I have never given my gelding any additional supplement, except for when we are driving long miles in summer, as he has always done wonderfully without it. My mare has only had grain supplements through pregnancy/nursing. I am now giving my gelding about 1 ½ cups morning and night and my mare about 2 ½ cups morning and night. The mixed pellet I am feeding is a custom horse pellet from my local feed store. The picture below gives the details of the feed. My gelding is in the ¾ acre pasture with the foal (which also has an enclosed shelter). My mare is now separated to wean, and is in a smaller corral (30ft X60ft) with an enclosed shelter as well.

Besides the feed, I took fecal samples into the vet last week and both are clear of parasites (and up to date on deworming, etc). So, that should not be it… also, although I don’t believe they have any issues with their teeth, the vet is coming out in three weeks and will be floating teeth if needed. (I scheduled it for three weeks from now, as that will be when the foal needs her first vaccinations, and I’m hoping to do it all in one go as the vet is quite a distance). If I’m not able to make better strides with weight soon, though, I will definitely try to get the vet out sooner.

At this point, I would appreciate any suggestions you have to offer on what is missing from the feed, additional ‘favorite feeds’ you might suggest, and or any other issue that you might see with my current care. I don’t yet have a problem on my hands, but it isn’t far off and I definitely want to get them back in ideal shape before it does become a health problem!

Thanks!

Brody

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edited to add: I still can't figure out how to rotate pictures!
 
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lkblazin

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You can add some bran mash. It helps a ton. It is also a good gut mover
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and makes hair shiny.

Also I don't/ would I ever buy a horse feed with corn as the first ingredient. Always check the ingredients to make sure that the binding agent is not a grain. Ie corn, grain meal etc. Alfalfa is a good binding agent. Also I'd look for something with a bit more protien. Safe choice has a bunch of good feeds.

There are people on here who can give you more info. Also corn is harder for animals to digest. It makes them warm, whitch is good for winter, but I have seen it do more harm than good. There are also new studies showing what grains are doing to our livestock. Hope this helped
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Ryan Johnson

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Have you tried adding some Alfalfa Cubes or Alfalfa Hay.? I had a similar problem a couple of years back, usually its the opposite, trying to keep the weight off.

Alfalfa or Lucerne as its known here is high in energy and should raise the calorie intake above the daily requirement, thus to encourage weight gain.

Ive also been a fan of a good bran mash, like alfalfa it is good for the stomach.

I find the quality of grass hay deteriorates towards the end of summer here. Its just not leafy and I often buy alfalfa to mix in with the grass hay to increase the protein.

Keep us updated, Hope this helps
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chandab

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Not sure what feeds are available to you, but do agree with Rebecca, I don't feed corn to my horses (I have one that is allergic, so prefer it's not in the feed shed).

How big are your minis? The feed tag says .5-1# feed per 100# of bodyweight: so a 250# mini would get 1.25# to 2.5# daily of the feed you are using; that's for idle horses, broodmares even more. [Typical horse pellets weight about 3cups per pound (standard kitchen cup).] This feed is pretty low in fat, which for minis is typically a good thing, but some do need more fat in their diet; I'm using a feed that is also 2% fat and I've added some rice bran to a couple of my horse's rations, as it's not quite doing it for them (I have limited feeds available to me, so adding the rice bran is easier than trying to find a different feed). [The feed I'm using is alfalfa-based.]

If you are up to date on deworming, and their teeth are good, then likely they just need more feed. If it's been extra cold that can surely suck it out of them. Both are now late teens, so might just need a little more help in winter keeping their weight up; it might be time to consider a senior feed for them, at least in the winter time. Some need it sooner than others, especially in the winter. If you have questions feel free to ask more, even PM me if you want.
 

Kendra

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I think you're definitely on the right track to have the vet look at their teeth.

As well, at this time of year parasites can be encysted, and won't be shedding eggs to show up on a fecal egg count. Late last summer my old guy was losing weight mysteriously, accompanied by bloodwork that showed inflammation. We ultrasounded his whole abdomen searching for a tumour that we (so gratefully!) didn't find. He also had a clean fecal, but given the time of year we dewormed him with a Panacur powerpack. Within a week his fibrinogen was back to normal and he started gaining weight again.

Good luck with them, let us know how it goes!
 

candycar

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You could try switching them over to some senior feed. It's easier to digest, not grain based, has beet pulp and has more fat content. It won't hurt the foal to have it either. That would probably be the easiest way, other wise adding a fat supplement, oil, BOSS, flax, rice bran, etc. and beet pulp is the other way to get them to gain weight.
 

Brody

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Thank you all for the comments - I really appreciate it. I have been doing my homework after reading your comments. Ryan, I was thinking of adding some Alfalfa cubes to their diet, but was hesitant as my gelding coliced a coupled times previously when I was supplementing his diet with Alfalfa (when I was driving him a lot during the summer). That was Alfalfa hay, though, and not the cubes. At this point I think that might be where I start, as I can easily get some Alfalfa cubes from my local feed store. Also, I really appreciate it being pointed out that the first ingredient was corn... I don't know why I never thought to actually analyze the ingredient list, otherwise I would never have been feeding this in the first place! I will finish up the bag I am on (shouldn't last more than the next week or so), and then transition.

Also, I like the idea of incorporating a bran mash. I haven't ever done this before, so I read a lot of different research journal articles about it. This article (http://americashorsedaily.com/bran-mash/) basically sums up what I was reading in the research journals - bran mash's are good on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, but can be detrimental if given more often. Is this how others have fed bran mash's - or how do you do it? For now I think I will just introduce the alfalfa cubes, finish feeding the current bag of grain that I currently have, and then wait until the vet is out in 2-3 weeks before doing anything further (as long as they don't continue to decline - then of course I would make further changes). I'll probably also wait until that point before adding a weekly bran mash to their diet... in preparation, though, do those of you who feed bran mash mind sharing exactly what you mix up and include in your feed?

Thanks again!
 

JMS Miniatures

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I would also give them a senior feed. I personally like senior glo by adm. Also alfalfa hay wouldn't hurt, as well as adding some beet pulp.
 

lkblazin

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I do max glo ( rice bran) pricey but all I can find by me
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. I mix it with there grain then some beet pulp. The beet pulp Is good fiber/ filler. I don't get it with molasses, since it is bad for their teeth. One mare likes it so much she eats it plain. And there are so many feeds that have bran already in them, so I don't know how people would be dealing with that weekly. But I give it to my girls when they need the weight. And that is longer than a week. I have never seen anything bad happen with my girls being on it for long periods at a time. If you wet the bran mash make sure to mix well it will clump. And it is very high in calories. So introduce slowly. I start out at less than half a cup. Then work it up after a week. My oldest girl needs it sometimes usually winter. Hope this helped.
 

Brody

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HI All,

Thought I would give an update and say thanks! The vet was just out and floated both horses teeth. He said the teeth weren't too bad, but definitely needed floated. Also, he offered the compliment that Buddy (my gelding) is in about the best shape he has ever seen a middle-aged mini. Over the past month I added alfalfa hay pellets to their diet, and have been giving them a bran mash mix once/week (both suggestions from here - so, again, thanks). This has done the trick for Buddy, and he is in ideal shape now. As for Bandy (the mare), her foal is completely weaned now, and she has put some weight back on as well. She isn't quite there, but has definitely been putting weight back on and is looking good. The vet suggested I not add any additional supplements just yet (at least for the next 3-4 weeks), as he is confident she will continue gaining weight well especially now that the foal is weaned. The vet basically affirmed how I was feeling about things, and what my plan was. Last, he did check Bandy and she is definitely in foal again. This last bit of news was what I was waiting on before considering an additional supplement. Now that I know she is pregnant again I will gradually add in a mare & foal feed - starting in a few more months (as long as things continue to go well and she doesn't need it sooner.) So, thanks again for all the great advice - my minis thank you all
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!
 

Miniv

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Sounds like you're on the right track and covered all the bases... ie, worming, teeth...

I would have recommended adding alfalfa to their diet, like you have (either pellets as a hay)

We also swear by Senior Feed...It has higher fat content, some bran, alfalfa, higher protein, etc.

I bet you'll see improvement in a couple of weeks.
 

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