Neglected Horse

Performance Horse Nutrition

Horses that have been the subject of abuse or neglect will be in a starved condition. Remarkably, horses can lose 30% or more of their body weight and still survive. Horses in this condition will have very little muscle mass remaining and will be very weak. They will need much attention and a sound nutrition program to get them back into proper body condition. Get your veterinarian to check the horse for additional health problems such as parasites and advise on a treatment plan. A full dose of de-wormer in an animal loaded with parasites may cause colic. The first thing to do is to start by providing the horse with good quality hay, water and a mineral/vitamin supplement. Feed good-quality grass hay, which is less likely to cause digestive upset than lucerne or clover hay. Try to provide it in plenty-1.5 to 2 % of the horse’s body weight daily. Don’t feed any grain for about 2 weeks to allow the horse’s digestive system time to recover. If the horse is an older animal with poor or missing teeth, the ability to chew long-stemmed hay may be pretty compromised. In these cases try feeding a forage extender pellet or hay cube that could be soaked and made into a mash. Start grain feeding slowly after about 2 weeks. Start out by feeding only ½ kg of grain twice daily. Gradually increase the amount of grain by adding ½ kg per day until feeding 1/2% of the horse’s body weight daily. Feeding this amount of grain and plenty of hay will allow for a slow and gradual weight gain. Bringing a starved horse to normal body condition will take three to six months, depending on the level of weight loss. Keep increasing the amount of hay and grain as the horse’s weight increases, feeding 1/2% of body weight in grain and 1 1/2% as good quality grass hay.

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