Caring for the Poor Doer
Essentially feeding the poor doer is the opposite to feeding the good doer. A poor doer is described as a horse or pony that loses weight easily.
There isn’t any breed of horse that is seen as a poor doer other than Thoroughbreds who are known to lose weight easily. Horses and ponies are individual and there could be many reasons why they are poor doers.
Anything from being a fussy eater, anxious, a veteran or if there is an issue with their teeth.
Some equines may naturally be thin, but it is important for owners to make sure energy requirements are being met.
What can I do nutritionally for my poor doer?
• Keep track of your horse or ponies condition score – this will help to monitor any changes you do.
• Look for a conditioning feed – these types of feed have been designed to contain extra calories to help build or maintain condition.
• Provide ad-lib forage – equines are natural grazes and need a fibrous diet to buffer the acid in the stomach. If grazing in the field is limited, owners should provide hay/haylage in the field.
• Check the amount you are feeding – anything from a simple increase to the current feed you are feeding could initially help. However don’t increase too much, it will be difficult for them to digest and increase the risk of potential colic. You may need to split the meals up with forage fed in-between.
• Depending if you have a native breed or an equine that reacts to calories through excitability or has a nervous disposition, cereal based feeds that are high in starch offer a quick solution, but could drastically affect them and should be avoided.
• Oil – a good compromise to cereal based feeds because it is higher in energy so there is no need to feed a lot and it doesn’t contain starch.
• Dental health checks – infection or pain in the mouth can cause horses and ponies to stop eating, so regular visits from the dentist is key to prevent any issues from forming.
• Rugging – in winter make sure your poor doer is rugged up warmly so they aren’t expending any energy trying to keep warm.
What about sugar beet or beet pulp products?
These types of feed are excellent sources of highly digestible fibre, even more so than hay, low in starch, and is a valuable source of energy which is why it is referred to as a super fibre.
Fibre-Beet is a conditioning feed with a carefully formulated combination of the super fibre feed Speedi-Beet, alfalfa and oat fibre. The alfalfa provides quality protein containing essential amino acids for muscle tone and function and the oat fibre provides a complementary nutrient profile.
Top tip with these feeds is to measure out the dry weight needed and then soak. Because these feeds take in water, they increase in weight and can contain up to 80% water. Owners may underestimate how much to feed and not actually provide enough calories if they are weighing the soaked product.
Looking to winter
Preparation is key for your poor doer before the cold weather sets in. Aim to prevent weight loss before it starts by looking at what you are feeding in autumn. Start to make alterations by adding a higher calorie feed and then increase further if needed when it gets colder and grazing is scarce.
If your horse is generally just a fussy eater then click here to see our page that focuses on what owners can do to help encourage appetite.
Consult your vet for veterinary advice & contact the British Horse Feeds team for feed advice.
Read more about our feeds here.