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Bringing Back a Starved Horse

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Bringing Back a Starved Horse

Post by Farmfresh on Wed Apr 16, 2014 4:48 pm

I though I would go ahead and start a new thread for this topic.  It is something that I have had quite a bit of personal experience with as well as something I have been asked about over the years.  I decided to re-post her question and my answer here so it would be easier for other folks that need it to find. 

On one of the journals a member asked:

Lynnkir3  well, since you guys are talking horse talk!!! My girl just got a horse and she (the horse) came in very skinny and dirty! We have been feeding her about four slices of hay and one scoop of feed that we got at the elevator. We have never had a horse before so this is something new!!! If you guys could give us some pointers it would be great Very Happy We are afraid to feed her to much but she seems to be hungry!! My daughter tries to take her out and let her eat grass every day as well!! "

You have to be very slow fattening up one that has been too starved.  Being starved stresses all of the organs and the heart the most. 

I would give her a good through cleaning first.  Brush her well and bathe her with warm water and a mild soap (Suave does what theirs does for less! )IF you have a day that is warm enough.  You certainly don't want her chilled. 

Dirty animals often have issues like biting lice that are nearly impossible to see.  Those can be contributing to her poor condition.  So can internal parasites.  Having her checked by a vet is very important at this point.  He can do a fecal to test for parasite load and a blood test to test for anemia that lice might cause.  He will be able to tube worm her with a good de-wormer to get those issues resolving as well.  She should also be given her shots (Eastern and Western sleeping sickness, tetanus, strangles, west nile virus) and test her for Equine Infectious Anemia (coggins test).  He can also check the condition of her teeth. (float) Once you have those basics covered you can begin a feed program. Without the parasite and health issues taken care of you might be just pouring grain and money on the ground, because they will do little good.  

As for feed.  With a starved horse I would be giving her good grass hay with maybe just a bit of clover or alfalfa in it and I would be giving it to her free choice.  Just keep that manger full!  Feeding a good forage like that will do her no harm and she can just eat all she wants of it.  A high protein hay like alfalfa or clover or pea hay must be more controlled.  Too much protein will stress her kidneys and heart. 

Grass must also be controlled at first, especially in spring.  It too can cause troubles since it is so rich. 

The concentrate feed (grain) should be added very gradually.  Pay attention to protein content.  I would start at about 10% protein (something like crimped oats) break it into half a scoop in the morning and half at night at first.  Once she is adjusted to the feed you can SLOWLY increase the amount.  You really want most of her weight gain to happen from the good hay and better health.  Especially at first. 

Another thing that will really help is adding corn oil to the diet.  Corn oil is a great way to increase the fat content of a feed without stressing the animal.  Start with a teaspoonful on each grain ration.  Watch carefully for any sign of diarrhea.  Then again work her SLOWLY up.  At the end she can get up to half a cup of corn oil on her feed twice a day. 

The final element is exercise.  This horse needs to MOVE.  Start slow and gradual like with everything else, but work her up until she is being worked an hour or so everyday.  This will help her stressed organs, keep her appetite up and put the weight gain into good muscle mass and not internal fat deposits around vital organs. 

Hope that helps.  If you need more info you should start a thread.  I am sure it would be helpful to lots of folks. 

Here is my starvation victim - before and after. 

 
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Re: Bringing Back a Starved Horse

Post by dizzy on Wed Apr 16, 2014 6:26 pm

Misty was a rescue. I've seen pics of her from when the horses were seized. It HAD to have been her because she was the only gray, and the markings on the face were right. And she was a walking skeleton.

While I agree w/most of what FF said, there are some points that I'd do a bit differently. As long as the grass is good, they get most of their protein from their grass and/or hay. Instead of the oats, I'd go w/a complete feed, like a senior feed. The rescue that I got Misty from did that, as well as when they seized a large herd of horses near here. It's a balanced feed, so your vitamins and minerals are correct as well as the starch, protein, etc. Which one you go w/is going to depend on a few things, availability, price and the condition of the horse's teeth. If their teeth are good, any good senior feed would work. If their teeth aren't the best, I'd go w/an extruded feed-like Sentinel Senior since it starts to break up as soon as they get it in their mouth. Forget the cheap feeds. While they're fine for a horse that doesn't get a lot of work, or to feed a horse that doesn't need it, but makes them think they're getting something, they work fine. (I give both Misty and Licorice some cheap feed. They don't need it, but Stormy needs his feed since he's missing teeth and has heaves.)

And rather than 2 big meals a day, you'd want to break it up into several small feedings. For it's size, a horse has a very small stomach. A 1000 lb horse can only eat 5 lbs of grain at once. You feed a horse more than that, and while it may eat it all, it will either cause it to colic, or it will make very expensive manure. Plus, changing their feed by more than 1 lb at a time can cause them to colic since it can upset the balance of good bacteria in the digestive system. (Specifically in the cecum, but that's probably more info than you need.  Laughing)  If at all possible, I'd weigh the feed. Give like 3/4 of a lb 3 or 4 times a day. Then in a few days, add to that until you get to the maximum amount per day they say for a horse of that weight. As the horse's weight increases, increase the amount of feed as well. Once they've put on the weight, you can then decrease the amount of feed, even change it if you want.

Personally, I'd skip the oil. From what I've gathered in my studying of it, the majority of the good stuff has been removed during the processing of it. Instead, I'd look for stabilized rice bran. It's a good fat source and isn't as messy as the oil either.

Hope this helps some.

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Re: Bringing Back a Starved Horse

Post by Farmfresh on Wed Apr 16, 2014 9:27 pm

I agree about nutrients being lost from the oil, but it still makes an easily digestible form of extra calories.  

I would get them on pasture soon too.  I guess I didn't word that part very well.  You just need to wean them onto it slow.   Good forage is what a horse was designed to eat.  The grains are just to speed the weight gain process along.
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Re: Bringing Back a Starved Horse

Post by Lynnkir3 on Thu Apr 17, 2014 4:16 am

Well, the horse we got was a little skinny and she was very dirty. We did however, brush her and been letting her go out and eat. We can't wash her yet it is to cold here in Indiana! She already seems to be looking better! We have had her for about a week or week and half. I am new to this forum so bear with me on getting back on here and I would like to show pics but not sure how lol. We have called a vet and working on getting him out here!Thank you for the advice it really does help Laughing 

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Re: Bringing Back a Starved Horse

Post by Farmfresh on Thu Apr 17, 2014 8:36 am

You need to use photo bucket or another outside source to upload pictures. 

Several of us have a lot of horse experience.  If you have any problems or questions - just ask!   Very Happy
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Re: Bringing Back a Starved Horse

Post by Lynnkir3 on Mon Apr 21, 2014 7:21 am

So update on the horse!! Derby is her name!! She seems to be settling in real nice here!! Got her tied up and eating grass as we speak lol or type! She did decide to get in her feed this morning but I caught her just as she ripped the bag! Note to self hide the feed lol! We have a dog and she seems to get along well with him( fender is his name). We are fixing fence so she will be able to go as she pleases to eat pasture! Almost done:) my daughter has put in I think 35 posts and running a three strand hot wire! The people we got her from said she was use to the hot wire I reckon we will see lol praying it all goes well

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Re: Bringing Back a Starved Horse

Post by Farmfresh on Mon Apr 21, 2014 7:34 am

Not only hide that feed - keep it under lock and key.  We had a mare that ate almost an entire 50 pound bag of chicken scratch one time.  She came very near dying from it and ended up severely foundered.  That feed was behind TWO fences inside of a chicken coop and under a roost!! Where there is will ... they will get to it.
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Re: Bringing Back a Starved Horse

Post by dizzy on Mon Apr 21, 2014 8:13 am

Ditto to that! I have mine in a "stall" in a can w/a lock on the door!

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Re: Bringing Back a Starved Horse

Post by Lynnkir3 on Mon Apr 21, 2014 11:06 am



Derby and my daughter she is looking better now Laughing 

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Re: Bringing Back a Starved Horse

Post by Lynnkir3 on Tue Apr 22, 2014 12:32 am

Well, I have derby out in pasture for first time today. She sniffed the wires started to run trough and suddenly stopped!! I thought she was going to run right through but she didn't it was like she said not today! She then started to roll around like she was saying awwwwww a dirt bath lol... Loving the horse I gotta say Laughing 

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Re: Bringing Back a Starved Horse

Post by Farmfresh on Tue Apr 22, 2014 2:20 am

She sounds like she has some sense. How old did you say she is? 

I am glad you found a way to post pictures.  That way we can follow her improvements.  I am sure she is glad to be out on grass.  How much pasture will she have available?
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Re: Bringing Back a Starved Horse

Post by Lynnkir3 on Tue Apr 22, 2014 6:33 am

She is 30 years old. We have about 3 maybe 4 acres. We also have a woods but I didn't think that would be good for her. I heard that horses like to eat the bark off of trees! We use to have milk cows that was back there. My daughter is wanting to milk again and has two heifer's they won't be milking for at least another year and a half. We will put them back there eventually..

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Re: Bringing Back a Starved Horse

Post by dizzy on Tue Apr 22, 2014 8:30 am

At 30, she may not get all the weight you want to see on her. At that age, it's hard to get weight on them. Plus, they can lose muscle tone-which will make them look skinny.

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Re: Bringing Back a Starved Horse

Post by Farmfresh on Tue Apr 22, 2014 9:57 am

Plus even more a reason to get her on a senior feed.   Our old pony Cayenne is about 26 or so (we never knew how old she was for sure when we bought her).  Senior feed has made all the difference.  It is just much easier to digest.
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Re: Bringing Back a Starved Horse

Post by Lynnkir3 on Wed Apr 23, 2014 9:27 am

Is this something that the elevator wood know what it is or do I need to get it at a farm store???

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Re: Bringing Back a Starved Horse

Post by Farmfresh on Wed Apr 23, 2014 9:50 am

I get mine at TSC.  I use Dumor Senior feed.
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Re: Bringing Back a Starved Horse

Post by Lynnkir3 on Wed Apr 23, 2014 9:56 am

Thanks I will look tomorrow!! I have to get turkey feed anyway  Smile 

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Re: Bringing Back a Starved Horse

Post by dizzy on Wed Apr 23, 2014 6:25 pm

Just remember to switch her over to the new feed gradually. Otherwise it can cause her to colic.

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Re: Bringing Back a Starved Horse

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