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  • March 14, 2024 3 min read

    Cool Energy Feeds for Weight Gain

    Maintaining an optimal weight for horses is crucial for their overall health and performance. However, achieving weight gain in horses without causing them to become excessively excitable or "hot" can be a challenge. Traditional methods often involve high-energy feeds that may lead to behavioral issues or digestive disturbances. Fortunately, there are several non-heating feeds available that can effectively support healthy weight gain in horses without compromising their temperament or well-being.

    Understanding Weight Gain in Horses

    Before delving into specific feeds, it's essential to understand the factors contributing to healthy weight gain in horses. Weight gain occurs when a horse consumes more calories than it expends. However, simply increasing calorie intake indiscriminately can lead to undesirable consequences such as digestive upset or behavioral changes. Therefore, the focus should be on providing nutrient-dense, easily digestible feeds that support weight gain without causing undue stress to the horse. 

    And remember, when changing your horse’s diet it is best to do so over a 14 day period to avoid any digestive disturbances!

    Cool Energy Feeds

    1. Fibre

    High-quality forages such as good-quality grass hay or lucerne hay can form the foundation of a weight gain diet for horses. These forages are rich in fibre, which promotes healthy digestion and helps maintain steady energy levels without causing excessive excitability. Additionally, forages provide essential nutrients such as vitamins and minerals necessary for overall health.

    1. Beet Pulp

    Beet pulp is a popular feed choice for weight gain in horses due to its high fibre content and digestibility. It is low in starch and sugar, making it a suitable option for horses prone to metabolic issues or those requiring a non-heating diet. Beet pulp can be fed soaked, which increases its volume and promotes hydration, further supporting weight gain without the risk of overheating.

    1. Soybean Meal

    Soybean meal is a valuable protein source that can help support muscle development and weight gain in horses. It is relatively low in starch and can be included in the diet without causing excessive energy spikes. However, it's essential to ensure that soybean meal is properly processed to remove anti-nutritional factors and optimize digestibility.

    1. Lupins

    Lupins are a great choice for weight gain for fizzy horses. They add protein to the diet whilst also providing a good source of energy. Lupins contain very little starch, but due to their protein content they should be limited to 2kg per day for a 500kg horse. Lupins can be fed soaked or can be fed cracked, flaked or steam extruded.

    1. Oils

    Fats in the form of oil can be fed to horses for weight gain. Oils are energy dense but they are a slow release energy source keeping any behavioural issues at bay. Adding oil to your horse's diet can also give you the added benefit of improving the coat quality. Plant based oils such as linseed, canola or rice bran oils can be added to your horse’s diet.

    1. Fibre Alternatives

    Increasing the fibre in which your horse eats is a cost effective way to put on weight. If increasing hay or feeding beet pulp is not available to you, you can also choose to feed lupin hulls or copra. 

    1. Commercially available feeds

    There are many commercially made complete feeds available tailored towards weight gain. If your horse however is excitable, make sure you look for feeds that use slow release energy such as oils, and are cereal grain free.

    Balancing the Diet

    While incorporating “cool” feeds into a horse's diet can support healthy weight gain, it's essential to ensure that the overall diet remains balanced and meets the horse's nutritional requirements. Consulting with a veterinarian or equine nutritionist can help develop a feeding plan tailored to the individual horse's needs. Factors such as age, activity level, and existing health conditions should be taken into account when formulating a weight gain diet.

    At Oakford Stockfeeds we stock a wide variety of complete feeds, as well as other slow release energy feeds and fibres to help your horse gain weight. Visit us in-store or online to view our range.

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