350 pound underweight OTTB 22 years old


“Jakob is a 22yo OTTB at my barn, I am getting involved in his nutrition due to his high weight loss.  He is very ribby, hip bones sticking out, quite underweight.  We are heading into winter here in Belchertown Massachusetts and I am trying to help his owner get the situation under control.  What is your suggestion as far as supplements  as well as pounds of grain/day and how many times as well as how much hay etc.  He is currently on an extruded feed 4 pounds a day with two pounds of soaked beet pulp.  We are also blanketing him starting tonight in a light weight blanket.  He is getting wormed as that has not been done since April, and he will have a fecal done.  He is also getting his teeth done ASAP.

Please advise on type of feed etc if you can.”

Answer by Ph.D. Equine Nutritionist, Kelsey Johnson Nonella:

So sorry to hear about the OTTB being so underweight. Sounds like you are helping the owner get him on the right track. Being dewormed and getting his teeth is the first step in the right direction. When considering his feeding program, it is important that you slowly increase his feed. When horses are very emaciated you can put them in grave danger if you introduce a lot of feed at once.

I would recommend starting him on Super Weight Gain right away. The small dosage of 8 oz a day can be fed in full to him immediately. It not only provides fat and protein for energy, like other weight gain supplement, it also contains a vitamin pack that addresses any vitamin and mineral deficiencies the horse may have, and helps to stabilize the gut flora with prebiotics, probiotics, and live yeast cultures so the horse can get more out of the feed he is consuming.

For forage. I would recommend feeding him a very high-quality forage. Slowly introduce more and more hay. I recommend eventually stepping him up to free-choice hay. Horses digestive systems are designed to consistently eat small amounts throughout the day. There are continuous feeders designed for this purpose that help minimize wasted hay.

The 4 pounds of extruded feed and 2 pounds of beet pulp are a great start to helping this horse. The rule of thumb is that a horse’s daily feed consumption should be no more than 40% concentrate of his total diet.  So you could gradually step him up to approximately 10 pounds of extruded feed per day. Feed the concentrate in 3 different feedings per day.

Good luck with your horse. Let me know if I can answer anymore questions.

About Dr. Kelsey J. Nonella Ph.D., P.A.S.

Kelsey J. Nonella, Ph.D. is an equine nutritionist who was riding horses before she could walk. Her love for horses drives her to help educate people on what their horses’ needs in order to have happy, healthy horses. Kelsey went to Cal Poly receiving a Bachelor’s of Science in Animal Science and then onto West Texas A&M, where she got her Masters and eventually her Doctorates in Equine Science. At A&M, Dr. Nonella did extensive research on Selenium within horses. Click here to view her research. Kelsey’s colleagues have mentioned her as one of the United States equine Selenium experts.
View all posts by Dr. Kelsey J. Nonella Ph.D., P.A.S.

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