Deenah is what is called a "hard keeper" meaning she has trouble keeping weight on, especially through winter. The minis on the other hand are "easy keepers" - they simply look at food and get fat! I've always thought those terms should be reversed, but both scenarios can be hard to manage.
Right now, Deenah is way too thin and I'm so worried about her. It could be her aging process, possibly a disease or maybe she has trouble digesting her feed. So I've added a few things to help her and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that she might plump up a bit.
I have been working with Marijke van de Water at Riva's Remedies in Armstrong BC. She is a holistic equine nutritionist. She has suggested some herbs to aid digestion and her company makes these herb combos.
Deenah is getting 1 Tblsp. of their 5 Herb Digest and 1 tsp. of Happy Horse Senior.
She is also getting a teaspoon of vitamin B12 in powder form.
I have just started adding 2 teaspoons of Brewers Yeast (supposed to be excellent source of B vitamins, especially B3) as well as 1 tablespoon of cold-pressed flax oil. Normally I wouldn't feed oil but the vet suggested that Deenah needed a fat component to her diet. She routinely gets ground flax seeds, 1 teaspoon of un-iodized salt and Pureform vitamin/ mineral supplement. Phew! That's a LOT of "stuff!"
And far cry from "keeping it simple!" But when we confine or contain animals and they don't have a wide range of feed stuff to choose from, we end up managing their situation and sometimes, hay and water simply aren't enough to meet their nutritional needs.
Rather than offering a dish of "powder," I give these supplements in soaked soy bean hulls and/or soaked beet pulp. Deenah has been rejecting her dish lately though, so upon trying to isolate what might be offensive to her, I discovered it was the beet pulp! It has kind of a rangy smell so I am leaving it out. She adores soaked Timothy hay cubes though, so between the soy bean hulls and the hay cubes, I can create a nice mash to add the rest into. These days, I give her a bowl of stuff about 3 times a day, so the additives get included to one serving or another.
The local hay we have here is very low in protein - about 5% on average. This is actually fine for donkeys, but in Deenah's case, the vet suggested I find a hay with higher protein and more nutrition. So off I went to the feed store and brought back 1 very large emerald green bale of Washington State Timothy hay. I started adding it ever so slowly to Deenah's regular hay (I wouldn't dare give it to the minis!) But Deenah turns her nose up at the Timothy hay - she'll even walk out of her stall rather than try to eat it. Okay, I thought at first - there's probably a dead snake or mouse in that flake or a cat peed on it - I'll try another flake but alas, Miss Dee has sent it back to the kitchen every time!
I'm so hopeful that Deenah will put on some weight, grow out a beautiful summer coat and feel better. I'm certainly doing all I can for her but if anyone reading this has other ideas, I'd welcome them!