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Ask the Nutritionist: Dr. Getty's Forum for Equine Nutrition

   Welcome to my forum. 

Here you will find more than 6 years of questions and my answers. It is searchable and offers a great deal of information. 

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 Dr. Getty 


Ask the Nutritionist: Dr. Getty's Forum for Equine Nutrition
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Weight Loss


In CA, my horse could look at hay and get fat. After
I moved her to MI in April, she lost weight. She's recovered much of it but I still see her ribs and she's not working that much. There are more bugs here
than CA, and she usually, but not always, got more grass. I want to get some weight on her for winter. She currently gets rice bran and whole oats, which she never needed in CA. Her teeth are in great shape and she doesn't have parasites. Why such a difference?



Re: Weight Loss

Hi Rachel,

Her long trip from California likely had a large influence on her weight loss. It will take some time for her to completely adjust. The change in diet also affects the bacterial flora in the hind gut so until that has had a chance to rejuvenate, she is not receiving as much nutritive value from her feed. So, patience is the key right now.

But, you are right to be concerned about the coming winter months. You can increase her fat intake to 10% of her diet. This can be done by giving her rice bran, flaxseed meal, or a weight gain supplement such as Weight Builder (Farnam); there are several on the market. Her diet should be at least 50% forage from good quality mixed hays – grass and legume (such as alfalfa) in order to keep her protein quality high. Be careful about adding too much grain. If she is working, she should not have more than 6 pounds of oats each day (no more than 3 lbs at a meal). If she is just grazing and not doing work, you really do not need to feed grain at all. Instead, meet her energy needs with beet pulp and rice bran.

Keep me posted on how she is doing.

All the best,

Dr. Getty

Re: Weight Loss

Thanks. What you said about the bacteria in the hind gut was my suspicion. I felt there must have been such a difference between CA and MI and with the stress of moving. When I ran that by my vet a couple months ago, she didn't think that would be the case.....I think that's a good part of it. I've added Dyna-pro to her rice bran and flax seed. I'm also giving her some oats, but not more than about two or three cups. Its mainly just to make the flax and rice bran seem more exciting. Thanks again for your response. I feel more positive now.