What Shall I Do About My Skinny Horse?
This year, more than others, we’ve been dealing with more underweight animals than usual. There are some common problems and basic guidelines that can be helpful for getting your equine in a good order.
Firstly, identifying when they are losing weight early helps you to change their management before it becomes much harder. You need to take rugs off, or actually feel ribs of furry ones – you can’t tell small amounts of weight loss from across a field.
The number one reason for weight loss is not enough food in comparison to amount needed. Horses predominantly need high fibre food, so an ad lib source of good grass / hay or haylage is a great place to start. Make sure bullying is not stopping some horses from eating enough. In a herd situation, sometimes leaving a large bale in the paddock might be more effective as there is access to food 24 / 7.
Hard feed, such as oats, pony nuts etc are a great addition if ad lib fibre is not enough. There’s a wide range of options available depending on the age or requirements of your horse.
Don’t forget to check the basics health care too. Horses need their teeth checking yearly and they need a good worming program based on faecal egg counts. We’ve found that there is still a lot of confusion about worming – horses need worming with a Moxidectin based wormer at least once per year, usually in Spring to cover encysted Cyathostomes. Equest and Ultramox (or a 5 day course of Panacur) are the only wormers in NZ that cover these. Your vet can help you decide an appropriate one for your situation.
If all the above basics are covered, then it might be time to investigate if there is something amiss medically – we’d be happy to help. There’s a wide range of problems that can cause weight loss, including ulcers, liver and kidney problems, diarrhea or colitis, chronic pain and metabolic issues.
Published Friday 5th of August 2016