Sunday, March 14, 2010

Managing the Hard Keeper - Full Article

by: Lydia Gray, DVM, MA
April 29 2007, Article # 9476

Horses lose weight for a variety of reasons--some medical, some man-made. Learn why your horse might be underweight and what you can do about it.

Have your veterinarian perform a complete physical examination to rule-out medical diseases or conditions. There are some common health reasons for horses to lose weight, like parasites, and there are some uncommon reasons, like cancer. The more uncommon ones will need additional testing for a diagnosis.

Then, step back and examine the quantity and quality of the forage and grain your horse eats. Is the hay from two years ago and does it look more like straw? Is he getting 1.5 - 2.0% of his body weight daily in food (for a 1200 pound horse that's 24 pounds of hay and grain, hopefully divided into two or more feedings).

Next, consider the stress in your horse's environment. Does he have to fight for his share of hay and grain? Does he travel and compete frequently? Does he suffer from heat and bugs in the summer and wind and cold in the winter?

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