Best Feed For Yearling Colts

James Smith
• Saturday, 31 October, 2020
• 7 min read

You want your youngsters to achieve their maximum height and full athletic potential–but you don’t want to overdo the nutritional support and create all sorts of growth-related problems. Horses achieve about 90% of their full height by 12 to 15 months of age as well as 95% of their mature bone length and 70% of their adult weight.

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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.

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.

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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. Weaklings and yearlings first use energy and nutrients to meet their maintenance needs.

Always provide horses free access to fresh, clean water. 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. 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.

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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.

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.

I am a great believer in Dr Green (good grass) and letting nature take its course. Use a 'soft' former such as 5 days of Panache and then in a month use an Ivermectin based one.

Foals go through horrid looking phases when they are done well, they can look even worse when they have a bad start. Keep giving him access to good food and let him catch up as quickly or as slowly as his body needs to.

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I know its hard, and you feel like you need to be stuffing food down his throat to get him to grow, but slow and steady is the way to go. I've been battling the same thing with my stunted yearling filly, McKenzie.

She was pulled out of a terrible situation where she was alone, not being fed whatsoever for an unknown amount of time, wormy, thrush, and very, very sick. She wasn't even 12.2hh when we brought her home, and 14 months old. I was worried about her growth and didn't think she'd ever be tall enough or healthy enough to be ridden, but I followed the advice of my vet and a few experienced forum members here and provided her with an antedate amount of vitamins, minerals, protein, starches, and fats...and she started putting on weight.

Allow him to eat as much good quality hay (a nice grass hay is always good, but alfalfa can be fantastic for youngsters in need of a little boost too) as he wants, then if he's looking a little thin still, give him a good youngster feed like Nutrient Mare and Foal (that's what my filly eats) or Triple Crown, or even just a ration balancer if you don't think he needs the extra weight but does need the nutrition. As Fox hunter said, don't over feed him, as that can cause bone growth problems and make him more susceptible to injury later.

Lots of hay and grass, a little of Ration Balancer or Youngster feed, and I'd say you're good to go. A pot-belly isn't 'normal' with a young horse, although it is seen a lot because they can carry worms so easily.

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.

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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.

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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.

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