26 August 2008 14:11
I recently took on a mare who has been neglected and is terribly underweight. My problem is I live in France and it’s very hard to find branded feeds, though we do have a lot of good hay and grazing.
By Your Horse
Nutritionist Clare Lockyer replies:
Have her teeth, worming and general health checked by a vet. When feeding a horse in very poor condition, don’t overload with lots of rich feed as it can cause digestive problems and laminitis. Here are some useful tips for you:
● Start with good grazing and hay so she has enough fibre – this will get her gut healthy and stabilised.
● Introduce small feeds, no more than one kilogram at a time, though she can have up to four feeds a day. If you can find a good feed stockist, choose a conditioning product. Otherwise, use a mixture of flaked barley, alfalfa or grass pellets, and a small amount of cooked linseed and oil. Build up to 4kg of barley, 4kg of alfalfa pellets, 500g of linseed and up to 200ml of oil, over four meals a day.
● Oil is good as it’s very calorie-dense, with two and a half times the energy of cereals. It’s also much kinder on the digestive system than cereals, which can cause starch overload if overfed. Corn oils are the most palatable.
● If you’re adding oil, also add 100IU (International Units, a measure of drugs and vitamins) of vitamin E for every 100ml of oil.
● As you’ll be feeding straights, which tend to have variable amounts of vitamins and minerals, add a broad-spectrum vitamin and mineral supplement.