Hard Keepers have trouble gaining weight due to a variety of reasons. Chronic digestive problems can be an underlying cause of gastric ulcers in horses.
Have you wondered why your horse doesn’t gain weight despite a constant feeding regime and all your efforts to bulk him up with hay, grain and supplements? Most likely you have a “Hard Keeper” Not unlike us humans some horses have a very high metabolic rate which means they need more calories to maintain an ideal body weight. A nervous disposition due to underlying stress factors can also contribute to increased calorie burn. Therefore, it is important to identify the circumstances that are making your horse a hard-keeper especially if weight gain is needed to improve or maintain their condition.
The digestive system includes all the organs that responsible for the intake and processing of food. Starting at the mouth it includes the esophagus, stomach, liver, pancreas, intestines, rectum and anus.
- Excessive drooling, diarrhea, constipation, loss of appetite, bleeding, abdominal pain and bloating, shock, and dehydration. Remember Horses cannot vomit or regurgitate.
- Colic is one of the most common digestive problems in horses and causes intense abdominal pain which your horse may show by pawing at the ground, laying down and rolling.
All these issues can compromise the absorption of feed intake.
You know what it like when you can’t chew your food because of sore or missing teeth. Your horse is no different. Dental problems can cause your horse to be off its feed and reduce required calories intake to maintain good condition. Good teeth are essential for the feed to be chewed properly for healthy digestion.
Getting on in years or long in the tooth, as they say, can have an impact of the horse’s ability to gain weight. Usually, dental issues and digestive efficiency are the causes of weight loss in our Senior Horses. We need to take special care of our senior equine friends for this reason.
Rule out Worms
Equine parasites, bots, and worms can interfere greatly with how the horse’s body absorbs the nutrients from their feed. As the name suggests these freeloaders compete for the nutrients that your horse should be getting.
Gastric ulcers in horses are among the most common reasons why horses are underweight or have difficulty putting on weight. We all know that stress as a result of heavy training, changes of environment, lack of a herd mate and hauling can contribute to equine gastric ulcers.
This is what one our customers has to say about her Hard Keeper - Karen Czarick
“He was not on the track but was a race-bred thoroughbred. I was told he was a hard-keeper. When he arrived here at the end of August, I put him on Abprazole. Even though we are going into our winter, and the grass has gone, I’ve had to cut back on his feed twice as he was getting FAT. Here is a photo of him on only about one quart (liter) of pellets twice a day and about 6-7 pounds of grass hay. OINK!!!
He was a pleasure to transport, handle, and ride.”
Turn your Hard Keeper to an Easy Keeper
Ensure you feed your hard keeper with quality hay. Higher quality hay is more mature hay, and it contains more digestible fiber and more calories. Alfalfa hay can contain up to 300 calories per pound compared to mature grass hay. If you don’t have access to high-quality grass, high-quality alfalfa hay is the next best thing. For senior horses, a special feed that is appropriate for their dental condition is available.
This type of feed usually contains more fiber to help with proper digestion in a horse that has reduced chewing ability. A treatment and preventative course of an equine omeprazole are highly recommended.