Tag Archive for: yearling

Domino and Delingr’s First (Almost) Balanced Diets

OK, time to get serious looking at these diets for these malnourished yearlings!

We are almost 4 weeks into the journey with Domino and Delingr, and so far my main priorities re diet have been:

  1. Get them used to being hand fed. Even hay seemed foreign to them in the first few days.
  2. Get them eating plenty of lucerne (Alfalfa). I figured having never been wormed (I know, shocking!) and having not shed her winter coat, Delingr (little brown) was so protein deficient that she couldn’t even grow her summer coat! Lucerne was one way to get a lot of protein into her without shocking her gut or the rest of her body too much!
  3. Introduce their gut to grain based ‘hard feed’. Having never been fed, starch I wanted to take a very slow/cautious approach to adding grains to their diet. I started with about 200 grams per day each, divided and fed in two meals per day and built this up super slowly over 3 weeks to close to 1 kg per meal now. The grains are (ofcourse!) well cooked and as per my PhD research I am adding enzymes to assist with starch digestion so I can be as certain as possible that the starch is all being digested in their small intestine and not ending up in their hindgut!
  4. Get them wormed!! We had to wait until we could actually handle them before we could worm them, and judging by the number of worms (small strongyles) in their manure post worming (photo below), they were carrying a heavy worm burden! Any wonder they looked the way they did!

My next priority is to get the diets properly balanced! I haven’t been too worried about that up until this point. Let’s face it, ANY nutrition was going to be better than what they were getting and I had a lot of groundwork to lay in terms of getting them eating, adapting their gut and getting rid of the intestinal worms!

Their Pasture Only Diet Wasn’t Great!

To give me an idea of where they were at I ran their diets with my best estimate of what they were getting at their previous home. It’s more a case of what they were not getting… using FeedXL, I entered Delingr as a 12 month old filly, weighing 250 kg (my best estimate) eating a native pasture only diet set to ‘good quality’ because the season has been a good one and the grasses in the area are typically green at this time of year (spring) when it is wet!

Here is how her diet looked in FeedXL… as expected digestible energy was low, protein requirement may have just been met, but with energy being so low she would have been chewing up a lot of her protein to use for energy! Hence creating herself a protein deficiency. AND lysine is low, indicating poor quality protein (which sort of means that crude protein level is meaningless as she was critically short of the most essential amino acid, lysine). PLUS with the worms sucking the life out of her she would have had a higher requirement for protein!

Minerals were also very low which would have been affecting her ability to actually grow because she simply doesn’t have the building materials to create bone!… one really interesting question is how this malnutrition will affect her later in life?! I’m not sure on the answer to that, but two previous horses of mine that had less than ideal starts to life did end up with severe arthritis later in life, from age 20+ so it’s possible this is how this may end up. But they may have also been genetics or coincidence so for me it will be a case of (long) wait and see!

What Their New Diet ‘Looks’ Like

My priority now is to get energy and protein levels up and to meet those mineral requirements!

Here is how I am doing it:

Their diet is now 2 kg/day of an extruded grain + soybean based breeding feed, plus 2 kg/day of lucerne (alfalfa hay) and 500 g/day lucerne (alfalfa) chaff. Plus some full fat soybean because there is a LOT of muscle and bone growth that needs to happen!

The only supplement they are getting is a gut supplement, predominantly there to provide starch digesting enzymes. And I will soon give them access to free choice salt! For now I am just putting a small (10 g/day) amount of salt in their daily feeds because I figure they would never have had access to salt before and will potentially be quite salt hungry.

Plus they have 24/7 access to abundant pasture which is a real mix of grasses, here is how I have it entered into FeedXL:

And here is how the new diet looks:

It doesn’t take a nutrition expert to see this is a LOT BETTER than what Delingr was receiving, and her condition tells the story already with the top photo here taken on the 22nd October 2021 and the bottom one 3 weeks later on the 12th November 2021. The bottom photo was also only 2 days after she was wormed and I hadn’t yet built her fully up to this new diet. I expect in the next month we will see MASSIVE change!

What’s Next?

I’m not 100% happy with this diet yet… the energy could be higher as I want to push the envelope with her a bit and get some significant growth happening while she is still young enough to really grow (she must be a long way behind where she should be!). And the Calcium to phosphorus ratio is not ideal, sitting just above 3: 1 (for growing horses it should be below 3: 1).

I hesitate to change anything just at the moment because they have had so much change in the last month, so I’m just going to let myself be OK with where this diet is at and I will reassess in a couple of weeks to see how I can increase the energy and phosphorus (or decrease the calcium) without increasing the total amount of grain!

I was looking at her this afternoon when I was feeding them and she has improved again on the photo above. Her coat is genuinely shiny now and she is much brighter in her eye! Domino is also looking a lot better, her hips don’t poke out anymore and she is definitely feeling better… I’ll have two high energy yearlings on my hands before I know it!! And then I’ll REALLY be asking myself whatever was I thinking!! 😂

Will keep you posted!



Do you have a question or comment? Do you need help with feeding?

We would love to welcome you to our FeedXL Horse Nutrition Facebook Group. Ask questions and have them answered by PhD and Masters qualified equine nutritionists and spend time with like-minded horse owners. It’s free!

Click here to join the FeedXL Horse Nutrition Facebook Group


Image of Domino and Delingr

Meet Domino & Delingr – the newest additions to the FeedXL herd

Question: What happens when you tag your (in)sanity officer and friend Lisa in a post about paint yearlings up for auction?

Answer: You end up buying a paint yearling! … and you can’t have one (unhandled… yeek!) yearling by itself so I had to buy two! 😆🤦🏽‍♀️

Meet Domino and Delingr

At some point when trying to work out how to transport unhandled yearlings I said to Lisa, ‘the more sensible option would be just not buy one’. Her response ‘when did good sense ever get in the way of a pretty horse!’. 😂

So there are TWO new horses to introduce you to! Taking my horse count now to 7! Yikes!
My ‘justification’ is they teach me a lot and help me to be a better nutritionist. And they give me cool stories to share.

The reality… they definitely do teach me a lot but I just love them and these two I couldn’t pass up!
Domino (paint) and Delingr (brown, both named by my kids) have had a rough start to life, especially little Delingr.

My plan is to show you all how you can take a young horse that looks like it has been half starved and through good nutrition and proper care, turn them into gorgeous horses!

I know virtually nothing about them. They are Paint bred, for anyone who knows bloodlines (I’m not included in this group) they ‘apparently’ go back to a stallion by the name of Cisco Kid.

I do know they have never been wormed, never had their hooves trimmed or had any sort of feed other than pasture!

So the plan at this point is to get them on a proper feed regime, handled, wormed, vaccinated, hooves trimmed and any veterinary care they may need.

I have started on the feed side of things because until we can catch them it is (clearly) impossible to do anything else!

I have my friend and brilliant horseman Adam Sutton from Adam Sutton Allround Horsemanship arriving on Monday to handle them for me and will get them drenched at a minimum while he is with me!

On the feed side, in the last two weeks I have introduced them to lucerne/alfalfa hay. It took a few days for them to really figure out eating it! Once they were happily chowing it down, eating 3(ish) kg each per day I moved on to giving them the tiniest bit (about 1 cup each) of sweetfeed in lucerne chaff.

Again, it was a process of familiarisation. They ate the chaff happily. The sweetfeed they were very wary of but did eat it even in the first few days I gave it to them.

After about a week of this, gradually increasing the amount each day to 2 cups each per day, I started to add a Breeding and Growing Feed, which is the feed I ultimately want them on.

Again they were a little wary but they did eat it from the first day I put it in front of them.

So far, this is where we are at! I am going to hold them at this amount of feed now until I can get them home and make them some little individual feeding pens because Delingr needs more feed than Domino but Domino is so much bigger and stronger that she tends to get the lion’s share of each meal!
I’ll share all of their FeedXL diets as I go along!

Our biggest task right now is to get them handled! It’s near impossible to do ANYTHING with a horse you can’t even catch! With Adam on the job from tomorrow we will have happy, handleable yearlings in no time!!

Photos here are ALL from the first few days they arrived.

Poor little Delingr is a sorry sight and even Domino, while in much better condition was dull and only interested in finding food!

I’ll update you with new photos often!



Do you have a question or comment? Do you need help with feeding?

We would love to welcome you to our FeedXL Horse Nutrition Facebook Group. Ask questions and have them answered by PhD and Masters qualified equine nutritionists and spend time with like-minded horse owners. It’s free!

Click here to join the FeedXL Horse Nutrition Facebook Group


© FeedXL