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What To Feed Older Horses

What To Feed Older Horses

Posted by Grange Co-op on 6th Feb 2024

As your equine companion gracefully ages, ensuring their well-being becomes paramount. Understanding and addressing the unique nutritional needs of older horses is key to ensuring they enjoy their golden years with vitality and contentment.

Maintaining Body Weight in Aging Horses

One of the primary concerns when caring for an aging horse is maintaining an appropriate body weight. As horses age, they may experience challenges such as decreased metabolic efficiency, dental issues, and a decline in the efficiency of the digestive system. To address this, consider increasing the caloric intake through feeds specifically formulated for senior horses.

Senior feeds, specially formulated for older horses, are an excellent option. These feeds typically contain higher levels of easily digestible fibers, quality proteins, and essential vitamins and minerals. Adjusting the feeding regimen based on the horse's needs and activity level is necessary to prevent weight loss or obesity.

Recognizing Signs of Aging

Understanding the signs of aging in horses is crucial for tailoring their care appropriately. As horses age, they may exhibit various physical and behavioral changes that signal the need for adjusted nutritional management. Some common signs of aging include:

  • Weight Loss: Unintended weight loss can be an early indicator of age-related changes in the digestive system. Regularly monitoring body condition and weight is essential to promptly identify and address weight loss.
  • Dental Issues: Aging horses often experience dental problems such as worn or missing teeth, making it challenging to chew hay effectively. This can contribute to weight loss and malnutrition.
  • Reduced Stamina: Older horses may display a decrease in stamina and energy levels. This could result from natural aging processes or underlying health issues that require attention.
  • Changes in Coat and Hoof Quality: The condition of a horse's coat and hooves can reflect their overall health. Aging horses may exhibit changes such as a dull coat, slow hoof growth, or increased susceptibility to infections.

Specialized Nutrition

To meet the specific nutritional needs of aged horses, consider incorporating specialized feeds into their diet. Products like senior feed, hay cubes, and rice bran are designed to provide easily digestible nutrients tailored to the aging equine digestive system.

Senior Feeds

Grange Co-op's Rogue Senior Feed is formulated precisely to address the unique requirements of aging horses. This specialized feed is a powerhouse of nutrients, including calcium for bone health, protein for muscle maintenance, fiber for digestive well-being, and a blend of essential minerals like phosphorus, zinc, selenium, and copper. These elements collectively contribute to the overall vitality of your senior horse.

Moreover, the inclusion of fats in these feeds provides a valuable energy source, supporting both weight maintenance and ensuring a shiny coat. The joint-care health aspect is particularly emphasized, offering a proactive approach to common age-related concerns.

Hay Cubes

Hay cubes, or compressed packer cubes, offer a convenient and digestible alternative to traditional hay for older horses. Dental issues may arise as horses age, making it challenging to chew and process long-stemmed forage.

Hay cubes provide a palatable source of fiber that is easy to chew and digest. These cubes can be soaked in water before feeding, creating a soft and moist texture well-suited for senior horses with dental concerns. Including hay cubes in the diet ensures that your aging horse receives the necessary fiber for proper digestive function.

Rice Bran

Rice bran is celebrated for its excellent fat and energy content, making it an ideal supplement for aging horses. Rogue Rice Bran Pellets offer a convenient and palatable way to introduce this vital component into your horse's diet. The added energy boost is especially beneficial for senior horses that may struggle to maintain their weight or energy levels.

When introducing rice bran into the diet, it's essential to start gradually and monitor your horse's response. Adjustments can be made based on individual needs and any underlying health conditions.

Importance of Vitamins and Minerals

As horses age, their ability to absorb and utilize essential vitamins and minerals may diminish. Providing a balanced diet rich in these micronutrients is vital to ensure the overall well-being of aging equines. Vitamin E, for example, is crucial for muscle function, while adequate calcium and phosphorus levels are critical in maintaining bone health.

Supplements may be necessary, especially if your aging horse has specific health concerns or dietary deficiencies. Consulting with a veterinarian or equine nutritionist can help tailor a supplementation plan that meets your horse's needs.

Creating a Nutritious and Palatable Diet

Older horses may experience changes in dental health, making it challenging for them to consume traditional feeds. Creative feeding options such as mashes can be introduced to accommodate these challenges. Mashes are soft, easily chewable mixtures of feeds and forages, often combined with warm water to form a palatable and easily digestible meal.

Mashes can be customized to include senior feeds, soaked beet pulp, and alfalfa pellets, providing a nutrient-dense, easily ingestible alternative. This not only ensures that aging horses receive the necessary nutrients but also encourages hydration, addressing another common concern in senior equines.

Encouraging Senior Horses to Chew Hay

Chewing hay is crucial for maintaining dental health and senior horses' mental and physical well-being. Dental issues, including worn or missing teeth, can make traditional hay consumption challenging for aging equines. Several strategies can be employed to encourage them to chew hay effectively.

Offering softer, leafier hay or chopping hay into smaller, more manageable pieces can make it easier for senior horses to consume. Additionally, providing hay in small-hole hay nets or racks can slow down consumption, making the process more comfortable for horses with dental challenges.

Grange Co-op: Your Partner in Equine Care

Caring for an aging horse involves a combination of vigilance, tailored nutrition, and quality products. Grange Co-op is a trusted partner, offering horse feeds and supplements specifically formulated for older horses. Understanding the signs of aging, maintaining body weight, and incorporating specialized feeds and supplements can ensure your senior equine companion enjoys a healthy and fulfilling life.