Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Body Scores and Weight Calculators

The nutrition gods have shined down upon me!! I think they feel bad because of how cruel the soundness gods were to me this year, so they're trying to make up for it.

I went to the local feed store today to invest in a new weight tape. Mine is super old and I've heard the new ones are more accurate these days. Instead of being 150 lbs off, they're only about 50 lbs off. They actually gave me one for free!

It still ended up being an expensive trip because I found a blanket for AJ. I wanted to get him something that was waterproof but would also provide just a smidge of warmth. They had an Amigo blanket with 200g of fill, but it felt really thin... not sheet thin, but not as puffy as the blanket next to it that also claimed to have 200g of fill. It was $90, which I had decided was a fair price as blanket prices seem to have gone up since I last purchased one. It's a 78, so I hope it doesn't swallow him whole, and I hope he doesn't snack on it as he has been known to do.

Anyway, back to the nutrition gods. :)

While I was there, I was talking to the nice ladies about AJ and how I know next to nothing about nutrition but have suddenly decided to take over feeding my two horses. It just so happens that they have an equine nutritionist coming into the area and he has offered to spend a day evaluating horses. He'll travel to your barn and answer questions and recommend feed programs according to each horse's needs. So I have an appointment with him at 11:30 next Thursday. I AM BEYOND EXCITED! This will be so great!! I wish it was tomorrow since I'll be buying grain tomorrow that he may tell me to stop feeding, but I guess I'd have to slowly change them over anyway... I've decided not to buy the big load of hay I had planned though.

I snapped some pictures of AJ today and weight taped both of them. I'm ashamed to say that Lilly was AFRAID of the weight tape. I had to beg her to stand still and even then she was giving the tape the stink eye.

The sun was not doing me any favors, and AJ refused to cooperate because of his hay pile, so these are the best I could get. I wanted to see where I thought he fell on the body condition scorecard. I think he's right there between a 3 and a 4... What do you think?

You can see his spine, his hip bones, and his ribs in this one.

His tailhead is pretty prominent...

And I think his withers and shoulders are also pretty prominent.
He just looks bony to me, and I can't stand it.

For a score of 3 it says, "Thin. The backbone stands out, but fat covers it to midpoint. Fat can be felt over the ribs. The backbone and ribs are noticeable. The tailhead is prominent. Individual vertebrae cannot be seen. Hook bones are visible but appear rounded. Pin bones cannot be seen. The withers, shoulders and neck are accentuated."
Here are the results from the weight tape:

Weight Tape = 1150 lbs
Heart Girth = 74 in
Body Length = 69 in
Online Calculator = 1145 lbs

Weight Tape = 1130 lbs (oink)
Heart Girth = 74 in
Body = 64 in
Calculator = 1062 lbs

I was shocked that their heart girths measured the same. I measured 3 or 4 times, but always got the same measurement. I had no idea Lilly weighed that much. I pegged her to weigh about 950 lbs... oops. These measurements aren't super accurate, though. I had to use the height measurement side of the tape to measure their heart girth and body length, and then convert it to inches. I also did it alone... so... they could be off a bit, but I think they're a good starting point, ball park estimate.

But 1145 lbs doesn't sound underweight to me...  Perhaps my perception of weight is off because I never really knew how much any of my horses weighed, but let's say he's 100 lbs underweight (because now that I look at the pictures and the body scorechart, I think 75 lbs might be too low).  He'd weigh 1245 lbs?  That seems like a lot.  He's nearly 16 hands, but that still sounds about 150 pounds heavier than I thought he weighed at a healthy weight. 

Guess I better get back to reading this nutrition book because I'm even less educated than I thought!


  1. Well, that will be interesting! Can't wait to hear what the nutritionist says. AJ looks thin to me too.

  2. Glad that you can have a specialist out. I have to agree AJ looks thin, thinner than 75lbs off Im afraid to say. But I hope the nutritionist can give you some good pointers and insight to what to give him. :)

    And HAHA to Lily being afraid of it! Milo has been hieght taped before, but last year I thought nothing of it when I put a height STICK next to him. He tolerated it but initally side stepped away from it, than dealt with it but gave it the stink eye with head in the air.

  3. When the vet was out in September, she said she thought he looked 50 lbs underweight. I think he's lost more since then, and maybe was even more than 50 lbs when she came out to look at him.

    Aren't they funny, Milo?! The thing was, I was wrapping it around her belly too (you know, where the girth goes) and she was like, "WHAT are you doing to me!?" Umm... really? Pretend it's a girth, Lilly. :)

  4. The nutritionist is a great idea. Probably paid by a feed company, sure, but at least it's free and you don't HAVE to heed their advice. Absolutely use whatever resources you can find. You'll totally blow his socks off, though when you come in with educated questions about Mcals and Ca:P ratios!

    I agree that he's probably a 3 but on the high side of it, I think. It's REALLY hard to tell in pictures. I couldn't believe my friend scored Jr. at an 8 but after I FELT all of the fatty deposits I had to agree. Remember to check all the areas, score each one, and then use the average as the BCS.

    He'll bounce back. No worries.

  5. Probably Purina, since the feed store sells only Purina feed, but maybe he's an unbiased wealth of information. (maybe... lol)

    If nothing else, I'm hoping he can help me decide what they're not getting, and then I can use that information to make decisions about what they should get to remedy the situation, Purina or not.

    Yeah, the pictures aren't very good. I thought the perfect time to take some would be while he was snacking on hay, but he really wasn't very cooperative. Tomorrow instead of just looking, I'll feel and see what I come up with.

    Thanks again for all your help! :)

  6. Yeah, he could use some groceries.

    Do you know how many lbs of hay he's getting per day? And is a grassy type, or an alfalfa mix?

    You'll get good info from the nutritionist, but it'll be slanted toward whatever line he reps, as SillyPony said. So keep that in mind.

  7. Since the start of November, I've been splitting a half bale between both horses, and the bales weigh roughly 50 pounds. Prior to November, he had that round bale until he mowed it down, and prior to that he didn't get any hay at all, only pasture.

    The hay I have now is coastal bermuda, so definitely more of a grass hay, but it's really nice and green. Probably the best coastal I've seen in a long time.

    AJ has had problems on alfalfa in the past, so I've been looking for coastal, orchard/fescue, and timothy hay.

    From what I've read, according to his weight, he should be getting about 24 lbs of hay per day. Once I bring them in on co-op (tomorrow), my plan is to give AJ a fairly hefty amount of hay at night to snack on after he eats his grain.

    Does 25 lbs-ish sound about right?

  8. Yep, poor little AJ needs some lbs but he is still super cute :)
    I cant wait to hear what the nutritionist says! Even if it is biased towards Purina it will still be GREAT information and its not like Purina products are bad. Im sure they have stuff that will fatten him up just as good as anything else!!

    Keep us updated!!

  9. A nutritionist - how cool! Poor AJ does look thin. Is that the pasture he's supposed to be grazing out of? I doubt he's getting much nutrition at all from that stuff.

  10. What!?
    "That pasture is full of grass and nutrition! They don't need any hay! Look, over there. A sprig of fescue."

    When Lilly sees me coming down the lane with an armful of hay, she RUNS full blast across the pasture. If they had anything good in there to eat, she wouldn't be quite so excited to see me.

    AJ always has to potty, so it takes him longer. :)

  11. AJ needs as much grassy hay as he can eat. I know it sucks when it's expensive, but that's the route I'd take. Your amounts seem fine as a maintenance amount, but he'll need more until he gets the weight back on.

    Also, I have nothing against Purina - fed it for years. My point being that if the nutritionist is sponsored by a manufacturer, he's gonna try to sell his goods. That's the job at hand. But, I feel hay is the answer for weight; grains/pelleted feed are supplementary to good nutrition.

  12. I don't mind the cost... whatever it takes to get him back to a healthy weight.

    I just hope he's content in his stall and spends the night quietly munching his hay. That way, the large quantities of hay won't get churned into the bedding.

  13. Poor AJ does looks a little thin; I agree about the 3ish/4 body weight. That's awesome about the nutritionist, though! Like the other guys said he's probably biased towards a certian brand (cough, cough Purina), but even so, you don't have to necessarily buy exactly what he tells you to...and by the way, I've never had an issue with Purina. We used to feed it to all our horses...

    You and I are on opposite ends of the spectrum, though. Missy mare is F.A.T right now (don't tell her I said that:)!!! I don't want to cut her back too much, however, because being so dang submissive, she gets picked on in the pasture and ends up loosing a TON of weight during the winter...ALWAYS, without fail...:( Ugh...feeding is a nightmare!

  14. I like Purina... I used to feed it all the time until I started boarding and then the horses were switched over to the feed the barn fed. Some people seem to hate it, but I've never had an issue with it.

    Lilly borders on pudgy too... lol But I'd rather her be a little over than under. :)

    Feeding is most definitely a nightmare!

  15. AJ looks thin to me too. I have an older gelding, 23 years old that I noticed was losing recently. I put him on a higher fat feed by Mule City Feeds, M3 and he bounced right back. It is pelleted with mineral and nutrients added. Very easy to chew and digest.He also gets a hefty pad of coastal twice a day. Sometimes it is hard to put weight on an older gelding but this worked well for me. I am sure you will get a lot of good info from the representative.

  16. It seems to be harder for me to judge weight in the winter when their winter coat comes in and especially if they wear a blanket. If you do the co op feeding, it will assure you that he is getting fed as he should be and the amount that he needs. I realize that is a worry when you board. Hope you can get it figured out.

  17. Thanks, Marty! I hope so too... I'm hoping once he's getting the right amount of hay it'll really help. I think I'll be looking for a higher fat feed as well.

    Hopefully he bounces back quick like your gelding did! :)