KER.com - Full Article
November 3, 2000
By Kentucky Equine Research Staff
All the horses in the barn get the same amount of feed every day; it makes feeding time much simpler. The warmbloods look super. Their weight is good, and their coats are gleaming. However, the one Thoroughbred in the barn who arrived a little thin six months ago has not put on any weight. In fact, he has lost body condition. He is getting grain just like the other horses, so what could be wrong? A veterinarian has thoroughly examined the horse and nothing appears to be wrong. Could it be as simple as insufficient caloric intake? What kind of changes can be made to his feeding program to encourage weight gain?
Sometimes, getting a thin horse to gain weight is simply a matter of increasing the caloric density of the diet. Other times, the diet may need to be higher in calories because of a medical, psychological or environmental problem.
What makes a horse a hard keeper?
The metabolic rate determines whether a horse is an easy or hard keeper, and the variation between horses can be extreme.
Metabolism is the speed at which the body burns fuels for energy in order to maintain normal body functions. A slow metabolism can function on little input of fuel energy. Conversely, a fast metabolism needs a higher caloric intake in order to function properly. In general, members of certain breeds have faster metabolisms and need more food to maintain body condition than members of other breeds...
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