If you own a horse who is a hard keeper, you know how difficult it can be to help your horse gain and maintain weight. Here are 6 tried and true ways that you can help your horse gain weight.
1. Increase the Amount That Your Horse Eats
The first step in putting weight on your hard keeper is to increase the amount of food that your horse is eating. Increasing both hay and grain intake gives your horse the extra calories that he needs to put weight on. It is important that you feed a quality hay and grain; if you have questions about what feed is right for your horse, consult with your veterinarian or with an equine nutritionist.
2. Add Fat Calories to Your Horse’s Diet
Supplementing your horse’s diet with fat can increase his caloric intake. There are many fat and weight builder supplements for horses which you can purchase; this takes the guesswork out of dosage and these supplements generally don’t spoil like oil, another popular feed additive, does.
3. Provide Small Meals Throughout the Day
In addition to feeding your horse more, feed him more often throughout the day. Your horse’s body isn’t built to absorb the nutrition out of two or three large meals. Horses are grazers by nature, so by providing him with smaller meals, you are increasing the nutritional value that he gets out of his feed.
4. Ensure Your Horse Gets All of His Food
If your horse is fed while turned out in a herd with other horses, he might not be getting all of his food. Try to arrange for your horse to be fed while he is alone in his stall, so that you know that he’s eating all of the food that you are providing to him. If you feed hay in turnout, then provide more piles of hay than there are horses, so that there is plenty of hay for every horse in the field.
5. Provide Regular Dental Care
If your horse’s teeth are in need of floating, it can be difficult for him to chew his food completely. This can slow your horse’s food intake, and also affects how much nutrition he can absorb from his food. Make an appointment for your horse to receive dental care at least once a year.
6. Consider Ulcers and Worms
Sometimes, horses which are hard keepers are actually dealing with stomach ulcers or worm loads. Both issues can cause a horse to lose weight, and can make it difficult to put weight back on the horse. If you suspect that your horse might have either ulcers or worms, then it’s time to treat him with an ulcer treatment or a dewormer. You can ask your vet about the best course to take given your horse’s particular situation.