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5 ways to deal with a picky eater

There can be a lot of reasons for horses to lose their appetite. Sometimes it can indicate an illness, other times is just means they’ve had enough.

 

But if your horse is otherwise healthy, but you feel it’s not eating the correct amount, here are some simple tricks to help them get a full belly.

 

  1. Give them the important stuff when they are most hungry.

Don’t let them fill up by grazing all day and then try to feed them the important supplements and nutrients they need. Prioritise the important stuff first.

  1. Feed them in isolation.

If they’re around other horses, try feeding them alone. This sometimes works, but can also have the reverse effect, making them feel less comfortable and less likely to eat. Experiment as see if either works for your horse.

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  1. If they have a distaste for a necessary food, mix it with water and grain/hay.

A lot of horses won’t eat because some part of their diet just doesn’t taste great (but you know they need it!). If this happens, add the distasteful food to a sludge of water, hay and grain. This porridge-like mixture will cover the bad taste enough for your horse to get it all down.

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  1. Make sure their diet is correct.

Get a nutritionalist or vet in to examine your horse’s diet. Dietary requirements change depending on weather, activity, age, health and a whole bunch of other things. If a horse is being fed something it doesn’t actually need, a lot of the time they’ll just refuse to eat it.

  1. Add some tasty stuff.

Throw in some of your horse’s favourites to encourage them to give their food a munch. Bran, molasses, honey, applesauce, grated carrot and grated apple are a few things to try.Halloween_whiteHorse

  1. Make sure yourhorse has access to fresh pasture.

A horse will very rarely refuse fresh pasture. If they don’t have access, move them to a new paddock.

 

  1. Replace uneaten food.

If your horse doesn’t eat everything, make sure you remove the food after a couple of hours. Old, uneaten food isn’t appealing to anybody.

 

  1. Look for other problems.

A lack of appetite can sometimes be an indication of a larger problem. These include: disease, pain, vitamin B1 deficiency, mycotoxin poisoning (caused by fungi/mold), rotten food or stress.

Be attentive and look for other symptoms that might implicate any of these things.

 

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