Obtaining the ideal weight for your horse may very well be one of the most frustrating challenges you will face living amongst such an elegant creature. What is worse, hot horses like Thoroughbreds and Arabians often have the most trouble gaining weight.
But feeding them additional calories can make them hotter. The best horse feed for weight gain breeds like these can get must provide cool calories.
However, most horse feed products for weight gain in today’s market are based on the premise that fats are a healthier means to add calories than the starches found in sweet feed and more effective than extra hay.
Others use a preemptive approach and help the digestive system process food more effectively. We have reviewed seven horse feeds for effectiveness, quality of fats, and nutritional value.
7. AniMed WGO Wheat Germ Oil Blend
Ideal for: All classes of horses, horses that need basic caloric support
Many horse owners use plain corn or vegetable oil as their only fat supplement. You cannot convince them high-quality oil is not the best weight gain supplement horses can take.
Wheat germ oil contains a more balanced fatty acid profile than corn or vegetable oil with both Omega-6 and Omega-3s. It is more well-rounded even than flax-based oil and also contains Vitamin E. When you feed your horse WGO, you are providing almost 100% fat.
Introduce highly-concentrated fats to horses gradually. It requires several days for horses to adjust, at which point they can tolerate their diets being comprised of up to 20% fat. If you do not allow a period of acclimation, horses can react with greasy stools and sometimes diarrhea.
• Vitamin A and D-fortified
• High in omega-3 fatty acids – good for the skin and coat
• Can also be used in dogs
• Promotes soft coat with sheen
• Simple to administer
• Not as palatable as corn oil
• Meant as an intermittent feed supplement, not continuous
• Blended with soybean oil
6. Kalmbach Feeds Tribute Kalm ‘N Ez Pellets for Horse
Ideal for: Horses with sensitive stomachs and at risk of gastric ulcers and hard-keepers over the age of two years
Kalmbach Tribute Kalm ‘N EZ provides additional calories in the form of fiber at 20%. This feed’s primary ingredient is beet pulp, what many horse owners consider the best weight gain supplement for thin horses.
While horses can consume fat equivalent to 20% of their weight, some need time to adjust to it. Fiber is something they are designed to digest most efficiently.
• No corn, oats, or molasses – reduces sugars and starches
• Can be fed as supplement or feed – supplies enough forage to give during hay shortages
• EquiFerm XL microencapsulated active dry yeast – acts as prebiotic and probiotic
• Comes in textured or pelleted form
5. Farnam Weight Builder Premium Concentrated Feed Supplement
Ideal for: Horses that need to gain weight steadily
Farnam uses flax, stabilized rice bran, and vegetable oils to produce a high-quality weight feed made up of 40% to 50% fat. Omega-3 fatty acids help maintain a healthy sheen to your horse’s hair.
Calories added in the form of fat helps your horse obtain more energy without becoming hot or flighty. This product is fortified with calcium to ensure an appropriate calcium to phosphorus ratio.
• High palatability
• Reasonably priced
• No added sugar
• Artificial preservatives BHT and BHA
• weight gain too gradual for some, not noticeable for others
4. Forco Digestive Fortifier
Ideal for: High-performance horses, stressed horses, horses on antibiotics
This is could have been the best horse feed for weight gain as it has a gentler approach and addresses the root cause of weight troubles in most horses: gut health. For many horses who struggle to reach an ideal weight, the problem is often at the microscopic level. Bacteria, yeast, and other organisms that inhabit the horse’s cecum are responsible for fermentation and digestion.
The process becomes inefficient when the balance of beneficial microbes is disrupted by altered pH levels invading pathogenic bacteria. This can be easily triggered by standard practices of feeding performance horses, high levels of grains, and low levels of hay or pasture.
The stress of stalls, trailers, and shows can also lead to changes in gastric and intestinal pH, as well.
Similar to the next product on our list, Redmond, Forco seeks to alleviate symptoms like unthriftiness, weight loss, and poor nutrient absorption by supporting digestive function. The focus of Digestive Fortifier is on the microbial population living in your horse’s gut. It is comprised purely of fermentation products that serve as prebiotics.
• Innovative approach to equine gut health – blend of fermentation products
• Improves nutrient assimilation – boosts overall digestive efficiency; helps bacteria synthesize vitamins, form amino acids, and ferment carbohydrates
• Effective with diarrhea
• Benefits all horses – will not help with weight gain if poor nutrient digestion is not a specific cause
3. Redmond Daily Gold Stress Relief
Ideal for: Performances horses, horses stressed by hauling and stall confinement, horses vulnerable to ulcers
Based on the fact that many horses lose condition due to underlying stomach ulcers, Redmond seeks to improve wellness by supporting digestive health. Daily Gold features pH buffering, toxin binding, and 68 naturally occurring minerals found in the dried sea bed in Redmond, Utah.
Seabeds are renowned for their rich nutrient contents and can often make the best horse feed for weight gain.
Montmorillonite clay has been discovered to absorb various toxins. It also maintains the integrity of the inner lining of the digestive tract, increases the activity of beneficial gut organisms, inhibits pathogenic bacteria, and increases nutrient absorption. If you like the idea of preparing meals for your horse, Daily Gold is best served as a mash.
• Benefits of a bentonite clay
• Almost 70 minerals and micronutrients
• Can be used safely with other weight gain supplements
• Can be made into a highly palatable mash
• Not as convenient to feed as other similar products
• Improves utilization of food but does not have additional calories – some horses may not gain weight on this horse feed alone
2. Vita Flex Hard Keeper Solution Horse Feed Supplement
Ideal for: High performance and show horses, underweight horses
Vita Flex provides extra calories for thin horses in the form of 40% fat. It also provides live yeast cultures and probiotics for digestive health and to break down grains for better assimilation. Soybean oil and ground flax make the supplement rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Hard Keeper also supplies calcium and phosphorus.
The best horse feed for weight gain is one that features a more well-rounded formulation, utilizing a mix of protein and fiber as well as healthy fatty acids.
• Safe to increase dose by 6x in performance horses
• Max. 9% crude fiber
• Effective without making horses hot
• Helps older horses put on weight
• Natural ingredients
• Preservatives and artificial flavors present
1. VAPCO Equine “Fat-Cat” Body Builder
Ideal for: Quarter horses, dressage horses, and other horses needing to build muscle and mass
Fat Cat’s approach to weight gain is to build muscle with fatty acids and digestive support. Not only are key vitamins and minerals plentiful, but enzymes such as protease and cellulase ensure they are bioavailable.
VAPCO adds lactic acid-producing probiotics to help break down carbohydrates. They are not to be confused with pathogenic acid-producing bacteria responsible for conditions like acidosis and laminitis in horses.
Despite the controversy about whether probiotics are beneficial for horses, they have been shown to stabilize pH in the cecum and reduce the presence of pathogenic bacteria. The best horse feed for weight gain on our list mainly focuses on the animals’ natural gut flora.
• Select vitamins and trace minerals target areas of strength and stamina – muscle
• Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids
• High in amino acids like L-lysine
• Vegetable source is nonspecific
• Corn oil
Feel free to comment if you have experiences with any products on our short list.
Stressful conditions in a dog or cat may cause simple gastric upset, but in horses, they can wreak havoc on the fragile ecosystem living in equine digestive tracts.
We chose only the best horse feeds for weight gain that avoid feeding extra grain and mainly focus on improving equine digestive health in an all-natural way.
We selected “Fat Cat” by VAPCO as the best horse feed for weight gain as it will help most horses put on weight. Also, it seamlessly adds muscle to equine athletes without making them hot.
Photo credit: Idella Maeland on Unsplash