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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
Feeding the Weaning and Yearling | Tribute Equine Nutrition Where to buy 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.). Current research suggests that diets excessively high in calories, especially from non-structural carbohydrates (NSC), can contribute to D.O.D., particularly if the balance of calories to the other critical nutrients in the diet is not correct.
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. See Tribute Essential K and Growth for use with grass hay.
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.
Young horses need good-quality feeds to meet their nutrient requirements for growth, as well as free-choice exercise in large paddocks. Oats are often the cheapest source of energy for young horses and are best fed crushed to weaklings because their teeth are not fully developed, and they will have trouble breaking open whole grains.
Young green grass or clover pasture contains 15–20% crude protein, but this amount falls rapidly as the plants begin flowering and start to seed. Linseed meal is relatively low in lysine and is not a good source of protein for growing horses, although its high oil content will produce a bloom on the coat.
Trace minerals such as copper, zinc, manganese, and selenium are important components in the diet for most growing horses. They need to be supplied in the right quantities and ratios in commercial feeds formulated for young horses.
To meet the commercial growth requirements of young horses, you may have to feed them less roughage than desired for optimal digestive function. Therefore, you must use good-quality chaff or hay to maximize the utilization of the fibrous feed in meeting the energy requirements, and also decrease the amount of starch the weaning has to be fed.
Lucerne or clover hay will also supply higher intakes of protein and calcium as well as fiber, so they are often preferred for growing horses. These feeds have higher protein, amino acid and mineral levels to supply the needs of the growing horse.
If you have great quality pasture or are feeding breeds with a good metabolism, such as warm bloods, quarter horses, draft breeds or ponies, a feed balancer pellet or a concentrate such as Bristol Legend is often the best approach.