UC Davis Emaciated Horse Diet

As we rehab skinny horses and post their updates. many people ask “I would like to know what you feed to get a skinny horse to gain weight so quickly.”

For years our shelter has followed the UC Davis Emaciated Horse Diet and we see it do amazing things for emaciated horses first hand time and time again.

So what is this diet we call the UC Davis Emaciated Horse Diet? It is officially called the “UC Davis’ Recommendations for Refeeding a Starved Horse”. Once the horse has started to gain weight, we then add more supplements to their diets. If the horse has come to us severely malnourished, it’s very likely that their hooves have broken or become fragile. E3Live for Horses is an equine blue green algae hoof nutritional supplement in frozen or flake form and can help the horse restore overall biological balance in their hooves. After the two week mark of the initial diet, that’s when we start to introduce additional supplements.

Here is the basic information of what you need to know about the diet – of course provide clean, fresh water at all times.

Days 1-3: Feed one pound (approximately 1/6 flake) of high-quality alfalfa every four hours (total of six pounds per day in six feedings). Contact a veterinarian to evaluate the medical status of the horse. Note: A scale is essential for weighing the hay in the initial steps of refeeding.

Days 4-10: Slowly increase the amount of alfalfa and decrease the number of feedings so that by Day 6 you are feeding just over four pounds of hay every eight hours (total of 13 pounds per day in three feedings).

Day 10 and for several months: Feed as much alfalfa as the horse will eat and decrease feeding to twice a day. Provide access to a salt block. Do not feed grain, treats such as apples or carrots, or other supplements until the horse is well along in its recovery. Each feeding of grain, treats or any supplements complicates the return of normal metabolic function and can result in death.

The first article we saw this diet in was for The Horse Report from July, 2003. Click here to read the article. It was updated in July, 2012. Click here to read the updated article.

Again, we can’t say enough good things about this amazing diet for starved horses, it does wonders!