Feeding for Weight Gain

While many horse owners struggle to keep their easy keepers lean, others have the opposite problem: their horses need to gain weight.

Thumbnail for Feeding for Weight Gain

By: Shannon Pratt-Phillips, PhD |

When a horse needs to gain weight, he must take in more calories than he burns. Sounds simple, but achieving weight gain is not always easy. In this Horse Sport article, Dr. Shannon Pratt-Phillips outlines strategies for feeding the too-thin horse that are safe and practical.

The first step is determining the reason why the horse is underweight. Factors may include malnourishment, dental issues, a fast metabolism or behavioral issues. Next is looking at management. Sometimes giving just one extra meal a day or providing free-choice hay is a good solution. Feeding more hay is always Pratt-Phillips first suggestion, but if that isn’t enough, adding fats may be preferable to increasing grains or protein.

In some cases, the horse’s energy expenditure may need to be decreased, and if calorie-burning stereotypic behaviors such as stall walking or weaving are an issue, it may be worthwhile to consult with an equine behaviourist.

To read more, go to: