Is There a Good Horse Feed for Weight Gain?

Horse Feed for Weight Gain

Whether you have a hard keeper, you’re transitioning a mare from performance to breeding, or your horse has shunned the late-winter hay you’ve tried to provide, you may be wondering how to promote healthy weight gain this spring. Although there are many good horse feeds for weight gain, we suggest a more comprehensive approach.


What’s Needed for Weight Gain

Simply put, your horse needs to increase their calories (often referred to as energy). So how do you rework your horse’s diet to ensure they get the necessary calories and nutrients? We recommend managing their fiber, fat, and, yes, feed, intake to safely bump up calories.


Forage First

High-quality forage, of course, should be the basis of every horse’s diet. Forage provides much-needed fiber. However, all fiber is not created equal. Forage can contain both digestible and indigestible fiber; digestible fiber translates into more energy. Fortunately, spring pasture is typically full of digestible fiber, so as fields start greening up, it should be easier for your horse to get some of those extra calories needed for weight gain.

Typically, a horse should take in 1% to 2% of their body weight in forage every day. For horses who need to gain weight, however, this can be increased to up to 3%. Consult your vet for the particulars for your horse.

One thing to note: If your horse has not been grazing in late winter, you’ll want to be careful with his pasture intake this spring. As with anything he eats, his digestive system will take time to adjust to spring pasture. Just as you wouldn’t suddenly switch over his feed, you shouldn’t let him go right from hay to spring pasture; this could lead to digestive upset. However, if he’s been grazing these last few weeks, and he continues to graze as fields begin to green up, his digestive system will adjust to the “new” forage.

If spring arrives late, alternatives like beet pulp, soy hulls, and alfalfa pellets or cubes can satisfy his fiber needs and help with weight gain.


The Role of Fats in Weight Gain

Overall, fats are a great source of energy and serve an essential role in putting weight on a horse. In equine nutrition, sources of fat include vegetable oils, rice bran, linseed, sunflower seeds, full-fat soybeans, and coconut meal.


Good Horse Feed for Weight Gain

To find a good horse feed for weight gain, look for feeds that offer highly digestible fiber as well as energy sources like vegetable oil and rice bran. A few suggestions from Hallway Feeds:
Prep 14, which we’ve formulated with 12.5% fiber and 10% fat
Protenza, a calorie-dense feed with 10% fiber and 10% fat
Distinguished, made especially for senior horses and formulated with 19% fiber and 10% fat
Quantify, another calorie-rich feed, made with 10% fiber and 8% fat

Remember, a sudden switch in feeds will likely cause digestive upset. If your horse has been eating a different feed, you’ll want to switch him over to his new, higher-calorie feed gradually.

As always, we’re here to answer any questions you may have on your horse’s nutritional needs. If you’d like more specific recommendations for your particular horse’s situation, please give us a call at 859-255-7602 or contact us HERE.