What’s the Best Horse Feed for Weight Gain?

What’s the Best Horse Feed for Weight Gain?

The holiday season is upon us! For humans, that may mean putting on a few pounds as we indulge in rich foods. But for horses, the holidays (and winter in general) can be a time of weight loss.
As the weather gets colder, a horse uses more of his energy to keep warm. If he doesn’t take in more calories, he will end up losing weight.

Know Your Horse

So how will you know if your horse is losing weight? First off, it’s important to know your horse’s body condition score. Hopefully, he started the season with a BCS between 5 and 6. Evaluate him regularly over the winter. If he’s blanketed, you’ll want to remove the blanket every day to get an accurate picture of his BCS by running your hands over his entire body to make sure he doesn’t feel leaner, especially along the ribs or tailhead.

How to Help Your Horse

If you notice that your horse is losing weight, there are a few steps you can take. First, make sure he has access to plenty of good-quality forage in the form of hay, hay cubes, or, if available, pasture. The fermentation of long-stem fiber in the hindgut is a significant heat source for your horse. The ability to graze continually on pasture or hay will allow your horse to be comfortable during the colder times of the year.

Something to note, hay has fewer nutrients than the fresh pasture your horse may have been grazing just a few months ago. It also contains a much lower water content than fresh, green grass. It is essential to ensure that your horse has access to fresh, clean water. When it comes to water, your horse should always have access to clean water that’s not too cold and free of ice. To help prevent this, large stock tank heaters or individually heated water buckets can be used. Check any heating source daily to be sure that it is functioning correctly, and it is not emitting any currents. Even when you provide constant access to water, your horse will naturally tend to drink less when it’s cold out. It is common practice to include minimal additional free-choice salt in the ration to encourage water intake.

To boost caloric and nutrient intake during the winter months, you may need to look at your current feed concentrate. There are many options to increase energy in your horses’ ration with concentrates specifically formulated to boost your nutrient programs.

Some Feed Suggestions

At Hallway Feeds, we make several custom feeds that can help with weight gain, including:
Fibrenergy
Distinguished
Protenza
Prep 14
Quantify

Each calorie-dense formula should be fed as directed to maximize its nutritional benefits.

The Exceptions

If your horse is continuing to train over the winter or lives in a warm climate, he probably won’t lose weight this time of year. Don’t worry; this is what’s normal for him.

If you need help choosing the best horse feed for weight gain for your particular horse, please get in touch with one of our customer service specialists. We’d be happy to help.