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Weight Management for Our Equine Residents: A Vital Aspect of Equine Well-being

At Crosskennan Lane Animal Sanctuary, we understand that weight management and personalised diets are essential for the health and happiness of our equine residents. Each horse, pony, and donkey has unique dietary needs, emphasising the importance of addressing these requirements for their overall well-being. The challenges of maintaining individual well-being within a herd setting, each member with distinct dietary requirements, underscore the importance of tailored attention to promote their health and happiness.

Lucas, with a history of stomach ulcers and weight maintenance issues, receives special attention to his diet. Small, frequent meals high in fibre and low in starch promote gastric health. Lucas also benefits from feed supplements designed to alleviate stomach issues, ensuring optimal nutrition without compromising well-being.

Diagnosed with COPD, Hercules faces respiratory challenges triggered by allergens. Daily steamed hay minimises respiratory problems, and careful monitoring ensures allergen-free feed. Collaboration with the vet involves a suitable treatment plan, including supplements for effective respiratory management.

Lady's susceptibility to weight gain puts her at risk for laminitis. A strict diet plan with controlled portions, a slow-feeder for forage, and careful medication incorporation into her hard feed prevent overeating. This tailored approach safeguards Lady's well-being, even with her penchant for treats and pilfering extras under the fence.

Tilly, recovering from ragwort poisoning, requires close dietary attention due to reduced appetite and dramatic weight loss. Highly palatable feeds encourage eating, and constant weight monitoring allows for necessary dietary adjustments. Supplements, guided by the sanctuary's vet, address nutritional deficiencies.

Harper recieving red light treatment as part of her sports massage.

Limited by physical injuries, Harper's weight is carefully managed with low-calorie, nutrient-dense feeds. Continuous monitoring, considering Harper's age and condition, ensures weight control without relying heavily on exercise. A personalised diet supports Harper's overall well-being.

Lucy's tendency to gain weight exacerbates her arthritis. A balanced diet, including joint health supplements, and maximum turnout for low-impact exercise provide holistic arthritis management. Lucy's customised approach prioritises joint health without compromising her nutritional needs.

Managing weight within herd groups poses unique challenges. Each equine's distinct needs make it more demanding to oversee and ensure every individual receives appropriate care. Some may require additional monitoring to prevent overeating, while others need specific nutritional attention. Crosskennan Lane Animal Sanctuary addresses this by maintaining a watchful eye on each horse's behaviour, feeding habits, and overall health within the herd dynamic.

Neglecting proper weight management in equines can lead to severe health issues, such as laminitis, joint strain, respiratory problems, digestive disorders, and a reduced lifespan. Proactive measures, outlined below, are crucial for responsible equine care.

How to Manage Equine Weight:

  • Regular Monitoring: Assess the body condition score regularly, adjusting feeding practices based on changes.

  • Balanced Diet: Tailor diets to individual needs, focusing on high-fibre, low-starch options.

  • Exercise: Encourage appropriate exercise based on age, fitness, and physical limitations.

  • Dental Care: Ensure proper dental health to facilitate effective chewing and digestion.

  • Veterinary Collaboration: Work with a veterinarian to create personalised nutrition and weight management plans.

  • Limit Treats: Be mindful of treat intake, choosing healthy, low-calorie options sparingly.

  • Forage Control: Implement controlled forage intake with slow-feeders or hay nets.

  • Environmental Management: Design living environments to encourage movement and access to clean water.

Our commitment to proactive equine weight management involves regular weight checks, tailored diets, and measures such as soaking hay to reduce sugar content. Despite these efforts, recent changes in hay supply have presented challenges, including variability in nutritional content and individual responses affecting some equines' weight. Acknowledging the importance of prompt and effective action, we've initiated the Equine Fat Camp. 

Lady getting her weight checked.

Lacey getting her weight checked with weightape

Far from punitive, this program is a responsive solution to hay-related weight challenges. It begins with a thorough check for underlying health issues, followed by personalised assessments considering diet, exercise, and overall health. Precise adjustments to diets, potential exercise plans, and continuous monitoring ensure the implemented changes are effective and sustainable, prioritising the well-being of each horse, pony, and donkey under our care.

Here at the sanctuary weight management is a priority. By tailoring diets, constant monitoring, and collaborating with veterinarians, we ensure each equine resident receives personalised care for a fulfilling and healthy life.

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