Because the growth rate has slowed there is less risk of developmental joint problems; if your yearling hasn’t developed them by now it’s likely that with continuing correct nutritional support he’s out of the woods. Studies have confirmed that a fast growth rate will not increase the mature size of a horse, and it puts undue strain on developing bones and joints.
Growing youngsters are not always easy to keep looking at their best but, with a little care and attention to their diet and management, we can ensure they look well, while still supporting steady, even growth. Their diet is generally, therefore, deficient in nutrients, including all-important protein, which supplies key essential amino acids for muscle and tissue development.
As a result, these youngsters often have a weak top line and poor muscle development yet many may be overweight and, depending on forage quality, may have a “hay belly” appearance. The diet must supply the essential quality protein and micronutrients, to support growth, while meeting calorie requirements to promote or maintain condition.
The key to achieving excellent physique is to provide the correct nutritional balance to support growth and development while meeting an individual’s calorie requirements. The quality of the forage available (grass, hay or haulage) will determine the amount of additional calories required in the diet.
For those holding weight and condition well on a forage-only diet, Stud Balancer is ideal for providing essential supporting nutrients without additional calories. Prep Mix, Prep-Ease or Yearling Cubes are ideal for those prone to excitability as they non-heating with a good oil content for slow release energy and a shiny coat.
Ensure that the diet is fully balanced and meeting nutritional requirements, aiming for muscle tone, top line and ribs that you may not see but can certainly feel. Weigh tape on a weekly or fortnightly basis and make a note of body weight to spot any upward or downward trends.
For estimating weight, measure around the heart girth and the length from point of shoulder to point buttock. You can track growth over time by checking your horse’s body weight with a scale or measuring tape. Plug these measurements into the body weight equation below to estimate your horse’s weight.
Optimal growth Ideally, you should feed young horses to grow at a moderate, steady rate. The National Resource Council (NRC) recommends rates of average daily gain for horses.
Recommended average daily gain values for horses of different mature body weights range from 0.28 to 0.39 percent and 0.15 to 0.21 percent of the horse's body weight for weaklings and yearlings, respectively. Maximum growth Feeding a young horse for a maximum growth rate is undesirable because bone hardening lags greatly behind bone lengthening.
Ideally, young horses should gain weight at a rate that their developing bones can easily support. Growing bones don’t have the strength to support rapid weight gain from overfeeding, especially energy.
Rapid weight gain can also make other skeletal anomalies worse. In these cases the risk of developmental orthopedic disorders (DOD) and unsoundness increases.
For example, switching an underfed, slow growing horse to a good diet that allows quick growth, increases the risk of DOD. Fat should cover the top to ½ of the ribs below the flat of the back.
Risk of defective bone and related tissue formation increases with one of more of the following: Always provide horses free access to fresh, clean water.
Common feed stuffs usually don’t provide enough trace minerals. Maximizing forage intake will mimic natural feeding behavior and bring about gut health.
Thus, don’t rely on pasture alone to provide your young horse with all the nutrients they need. Concentrates A horse’s ability to efficiently use forage develops over time.
Only feed enough concentrates to achieve the desired growth rate and maintain a moderate body condition score. Always consider the expected feed intake when calculating your horse’s daily ration.
Digestible Energy (Meal/lb of BY)Crude Protein % Crude Protein % Ca UP ICU ppm Zn limit A IU/bit E IU/expected feed consumption (% BY) Weaning 1.2514.0-16.00.70.41040910372.0-3.5 Yearling 1.1512.0-14.00.50.31040910372.0-3.0 Feed young horses to grow at a moderate and steady rate.
Foals between the age of 3 and 9 months are at greatest risk for developmental orthopedic disorders. Young, growing horses need a diet ratio of Ca to P between 1 and 1 and 3 to 1.
Maximizing forage intake will mimic natural feeding behavior and bring about gut health. Nutrition is important for growing horses between weaning and 2 years of age.
During this time, bone formation and size greatly increase as well as muscle mass. Thus, these horses need the proper amount and balance of energy and nutrients in their ration.
Some individuals will slow down their growth rate at 6 to 12 months, while others continue to grow rapidly. It is important to feed the horse’s physiological growth rate, not necessarily its chronological age.
Many yearlings grow as fast as weaklings, and must be fed a diet to support such a growth rate in a sound manner. A common belief is that high protein diets can cause developmental orthopedic disease (D.O.D.).
This can be accomplished by feeding a ration balancer designed for the forage being fed at recommended levels. Then, if more calories are needed for body condition, we can add a fat supplement or complimentary low NSC product.
This approach might be slightly more expensive in cost per day, but can save many times the cost in veterinary bills and lost sales value due to D.O.D. The requirements for crude protein, lysine, calcium and phosphorous increase faster than the energy requirement.
There is evidence that copper levels 3-4 times higher and zinc levels 2-3 times higher than the current Nutrient Requirements of Horses (NRC, 2007) recommendations may help alleviate the incidence of D.O.D in many situations, especially programs with faster-growing horses. We believe that low copper and zinc levels are a major contributor to D.O.D.
And must be addressed from the 1st trimester of pregnancy until the resultant foal has ceased growing. The concentrate (grain) component of the diet should be carefully chosen to complement the forage (hay and pasture) source, with particular attention given to the calcium to phosphorus ratio in the total diet.
The ideal calcium to phosphorous ratio in the total diet of growing horses is between 1:1 and 2:1. Growing horses consuming forage sources composed of 50% or greater alfalfa or other legumes should be fed a concentrate specifically designed to balance the nutrient profile of legumes.
Young, growing horses require a specially designed diet to meet their unique needs. With many poorly designed feeds, horses may have to be fed more to meet the requirements of non-calorie nutrients, thereby developing excess body condition, which can aggravate D.O.D.
Try to keep young, growing horses in moderate flesh, with a body score of 5-6, and monitor body weight with a scale or weight tape every 2-4 weeks, so adjustments can be made as growth rate increases or decreases. Make sure the total diet (forage and concentrate combined) is balanced for the weaning and yearling.
C. Monitor growth rate and keep young horses in moderate body condition (body score 5-6). D. Consult a qualified EQUINE nutritionist to help balance diets and adjust to problem situations.
This can be a stressful time, both emotionally and nutritionally, but keeping these tips for weaning horses in mind can ensure a smooth transition and continued healthy growth. Foals will start to show interest in feeds very early on and, by around two months of age, their mother’s milk will no longer supply all the nutrients needed for optimum growth.
For example, a 3-month-old would ideally be eating about three pounds of feed per day, in addition to milk and free choice hay or pasture. A weaning horse already accustomed to eating an adequate amount of dry feed will transition to life without mom much easier and will be ready to maintain nutrient intake at a level that can sustain optimum growth. Feeds formulated for adults will not provide the necessary nutrients for your baby to fulfill their genetic potential and may cause deficiencies and increase the risk of growth abnormalities.
Purina feeds formulated for growing foals include Cultism ® Growth, Imogene #300 ®, Strategy ® GO, Equine Junior ® and Enrich Plus ®. Plotting your weaning horse’s height and weight over time should show a smooth, steady growth curve with no obvious peaks or valleys.
Weaning horses are growing to their genetic potential when they are being fed a well-balanced diet in amounts to maintain slight cover, so ribs aren’t seen but are easily felt.