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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. 

Currently, I am discontinuing new questions. This may change in the future, but in the meantime, please know that It has been a true pleasure serving you. 

Take a look at my Nutrition Library and Tips of the Month for a variety of answers on selected topics. Be sure to sign up for my monthly e-newsletter, Forage for Thought

I also have a growing number of recordings on "Teleseminars on Nutrition Topics that Concern You" as well as the new, Spotlight on Equine Nutrition Series -- printed versions of favorite teleseminars.

And finally, look for my articles in a variety of local publications and online newsletters, as well as the Horse Journal, where I am the Contributing Nutrition Editor.  


All the best,

 Dr. Getty 


Ask the Nutritionist: Dr. Getty's Forum for Equine Nutrition
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weight gain/laminitis

My 17 year old Arabian mare foundered 2 years ago. She had a 2nd bout with laminitis last year. Both times I was trying to put weight on her because her ribs show. She seems very healthy, great coat, bounces around like a filly, but her ribs show. I'm afraid to try & put weight on her again. She gets one scoop of pelleted grain (Saddle King) a day, plenty of hay, & good pasture. My vet says leave her alone, but I have thought about adding some pelleted alfalfa to her diet. I get different opinions about this. What do you think? Thank you for this web site.

Where are you from? Conroe, Texas

How did you locate this forum? My farrier, Vickie Hilliard, suggested I check it out

Re: weight gain/laminitis

Hi Ann,

Thank you for writing. Since your mare has had two bouts of laminitis, it is important to remove all oats, corn, barley, sweet feeds, or pelleted feeds that are grain-based, from the diet. So if your Saddle King feed contains these grains, I would strongly recommend that you switch to a low-starch feed that is made from ingredients such as beet pulp, soybean meal, hulls, alfalfa meal, grain by-products, and the like. There are several on the market, such as Nutrena Safe Choice, Triple Crown Low Starch, Purina Ultium, Blue Seal Trotter, and Poulin's Low Carb.

I would also consider giving her a supplement such as Laminex to help prevent another laminitis attack.

About alfalfa... I am in favor of offering some alfalfa in the diet, but it must be limited. The reason I like it is because it is a legume, and therefore, balances out the protein profile in the diet, making tissue repair more likely.

Alfalfa, on the other hand, is generally higher in sugars and starch (non-structural carbohydrates - NSC) than grass hays. However, I have seen alfalfa batches that are even lower than some grasses. So, the best bet is to offer a small amount -- say half a flake -- and see how she does. You could, of course, have it analyzed to make certain that it is not too high in NSC levels -- that's always an option.

So, please keep me posted on how she's doing. You may want to give her Ration Plus to help her gain weight. It would be good to get her to a condition where you can feel her ribs, but they don't show. Any more than that would be hard for her to handle if she were to develop another laminitic episode.

All the best,

Dr. Getty