how to safely put weight on older horse

Most horses will willingly eat up to a half cup of oil at each feeding. When trying to put weight on horses, adding extra hay like you’re doing is always the first and best option. Sign up for free now! First, select a product that is formulated for your horse’s stage of life and activity level. Shuster is 16.3 hands (170 cm) and ribby. McGowan, P.D. Researchers hypothesize that consistently providing high-quality forage needed to meet the dietary energy needs of senior horses can be a losing battle. Why is this happening and how can I help him? “Many senior horses tend to lose muscling over the topline, causing the backbone to become more pronounced, which can seem as though they are losing weight; however, it is important for owners to appreciate that obesity in the equine population is as problematic as it is in humans,” warned Kathleen Crandell, Ph.D., a Kentucky Equine Research nutritionist. Regardless of age, fibre is the most important part of every horse’s diet and is vital for … Then, follow the instructions on the label to introduce the feed slowly and carefully to his diet. Alfalfa is a high protein forage, so it makes an excellent supplement for horses that are protein deficient or for horses that have higher protein requirements such as senior horses or pregnant or lactating mares. Even though horses are genetically wired to thrive off poor-quality feeds, this principle does not generally apply to senior horses. Remember, though, that certain phases and types of parasites may not be reflected in a fecal exam. A survey of health care and disease in geriatric horses aged 30 years or older. So feeding a 10 year old 4# of feed isn't the same as feeding a 23 year old 4#. Your veterinarian may determine that your horse is not maintaining appropriate weight and condition due to a dental condition that can be addressed by routine dentistry. Q. The senior horse population is larger now than ever before, with many horses leading healthy lives into their 30s. Dietary requirements (energy and nutrients) are determined by many factors including breed, sex, age, activity level, reproductive status, housing and health status. SmartPak's Staff Veterinarian, Dr. Lydia Gray, answers a question about how to get a horse to gain weight. Internal parasites compete with protein utilization and can also disrupt the digestive tract tissue, causing irritation, which makes it hard for a horse to maintain weight. Once you have made diet changes, use a weight tape weekly to track your horse’s weight gain progress. About 4500 additional kcal per day over the normal amount fed should achieve half a pound of gain per day. Q: I'm unhappy with my 14-year-old Thoroughbred gelding's weight. If weight loss is a real, rather than simply perceived, problem, what can owners do? Fiber is the major component of grass and hay. I supplement with afalfa pellets on some of the harder keepers. ... (such as alfalfa). Pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction is a disease of older horses and many are underweight as a consequence of senescence or dental problems. By combining all of the above most older horses put weight back on. Clegg, et al. The maturity of the plant when it is harvested greatly affects its nutrient content, and local environmental conditions may have resulted in hay that is lower in energy and nutrient content. Organic Horse Feed, Oasis Alfalfa Pellets. In these situations, it may be beneficial to add water to the feed to provide a mash or gruel, which will be even more easily edible for the horse with extremely poor dentition. A Weight Gain Supplement for Older Horses. Older horses Taking care of your old buddy. © 2020 by Cruz Bay Publishing, Inc., an Active Interest Media company, Longines FEI World Cup™ North American League. If the horse is on the lower end of this range, you will need to feed them with feed that is high in protein. Dr. Katie Young is the lead technical equine nutritionist with Purina Animal Nutrition. Periodic fecal exams to determine fecal egg count are suggested to help understand the parasite status of each individual horse. In such situations, providing a complete senior feed with high-quality, easily digested forage or roughage sources to replace some or all of the hay can be extremely beneficial in maintaining the horse’s body weight and condition, as well as meet nutrient requirements to support the aging horse’s lifestyle. Another option is to feed less…less roughage but more easily digestible feedstuffs, that is. Finally, EGUS, PPID or other health or medical conditions can result in significant loss of weight and body condition, and there are nutritional strategies that may be beneficial to horses suffering from these conditions. In addition to the calories, or energy, gained from the fermentation of fiber in the hindgut, the stomach is healthier and the horse is happier (because he has more to chew). I’m especially concerned about him as winter approaches. 45 pounds of gain in 90 days is 1/2 pound per day, a safe goal to aim for. Frequently these older horses maintain condition well when good quality pasture is available, but struggle when fed the same feed ration with hay instead of fresh pasture. Some geriatric horses have such compromised dental condition that they are not able to properly chew a well-designed senior feed. Feed 1% of a high-quality forage daily (based on body weight). Offer a complete feed specifically designed for senior horses with higher digestible fiber at a minimum of 0.5% body weight. Feed a senior horse more frequently, at least three times daily. Regular dental care is essential to maintain the horse’s teeth in good shape to chew properly. Increasing the amount of roughage or adding oil to the diet are both viable solutions. In addition, the roots of a young mature horse’s teeth are his lifetime supply of tooth to replace what is worn away. You can use corn, peanut, canola, or vegetable oil. These feeds are formulated to include appropriate forage or roughage sources to partially or completely replace hay and/or pasture in the aging horse’s diet. Lipomas appear to be more prevalent in older horses (over 15 years of age). There may be metabolic issues involved. The high fiber content in senior feed is of value when you have to reduce or eliminate hay (long-stem forage) from the horse’s diet. She talks about the importance of keeping a horse health journal, as well as why a small hole hay net might be a good idea for both easy and hard keepers. Scientific Medicine Making sense out of … A couple of pounds of rice bran in combination with beet pulp often does a nice job of putting weight on horses. Consider adding oils to the feed. All Rights Reserved. If that happens, the fiber and calories provided by forage in the horse’s diet must be replaced by appropriate dietary components that he is able to chew and process. It’s natural to worry if your senior companion is looking overly skinny. As a horse’s teeth wear, they can develop abnormalities such as sharp edges, hooks and waves that interfere with the efficient grinding and processing of feedstuffs during chewing. The horse then needs only to crush the nuggets to start digesting the food as opposed to having to grind normal grain feed in order to get at it's nutrient core. Most horses will willingly eat up to a half cup of oil at each feeding. And, since fat is digested differently, without the risks posed by sugars or carbohydrates, oil is one of the safest ways to put weight on a horse. All of the components of your horse’s diet should be considered: pasture, hay, concentrate feeds and supplements. A commercially prepared senior horse feed is another option for older horses with poor dental condition. A survey of health care and disease in geriatric horses aged 30 years or older. The Veterinary Journal. Tips and Tricks to Get a Horse to Gain Weight. Horses have hypsodont teeth, which means the teeth erupt approximately three to four millimeters per year to compensate for the tooth wear caused by the grinding motion of chewing. This contrasted with the owner responses that reported 23% of the animals surveyed to be underweight and only 3% to be overweight.” Some countries have adopted a BCS system of 0-5, with 0 indicating emaciation and 5 signifying obesity. Here are some healthy ways to gain weight when you're underweight: Eat more frequently. Deworming programs should be tailored to the type of parasites found, the parasite population’s susceptibility to particular deworming drugs, geographic location of the horse and the degree to which individual horses shed parasite eggs. In one of her many studies devoted to senior horses*, Ireland wrote, “Of the animals examined, 16% were underweight with body condition scores (BCS) <2/5, and 10% were overweight (BCS >3/5). The best ways to promote healthy weight gain in horses are: Provide free-choice access to quality hay or pasture grass around the clock Feed in smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day – at least three or more Soaking will further increase the horse’s ability to utilize these forage replacements. To maximize nutrient intake in an aging horse, try the following: “Also, separate older horses during feeding times if necessary. Best Weight Gain Supplements For Horses Using a digestive supplement that contains ingredients such as yeast and prebiotics will help to establish a healthy population of microbes in the gut that the horse relies on to digest fibre. Safechoice also has the Special Care feed which has a low NSC of 11%. If you are particular about what kind of pastures your … Obviously, we’re not going to feed that in one day! Protein promotes weight gain. Part of the aging process is often loss of efficiency of the digestive tract due to decreased motility, digestion and absorption of nutrients. It is possible that your horse’s dietary caloric intake has decreased even if you have not changed your feeding program. Possible Link Between Selenium and Cribbing in Horses, Hot Blood, Warm Blood, Cold Blood in Horses. An excessively thin cat can be a sorry sight. If your horse is at an age at which there is no longer adequate tooth to erupt and replace what is worn or other dental conditions (such as missing teeth) exist that will inhibit proper chewing and grinding, your horse may require a change in diet. The digestive system in older horses tends to be less efficient at processing and absorbing nutrients. They are thin and therefore will need more feed to increase its weight. Horses are also individuals so what works for one 23 year old might be too much or too little for the next 23 year old. If your horse’s condition is at 4 to 7, it is considered to be healthy and fit. The first step in figuring out why your horse is having trouble maintaining appropriate body weight and condition is to examine your overall feeding program to see if he is receiving a diet that is adequate to meet his energy requirements and that he is actually consuming as much as you think he is. More hay in its feeder or longer grazing time may be all it takes to see weight gain. Older horses can get pushed away during mealtimes when in a herd, and they are not generally as enthusiastic about food as they were in their younger days,” added Crandell. When you're underweight, you may feel full faster. 192:57-64. Horses younger than 3 years old and older horses are more susceptible to parasites. How do I put my horse on a diet: HORSE INFO from Cherry Hill - a collection of horse articles and tips on ground training, mounted training, English and Western riding, arena exercises, horse health care, hoof care, buying and selling horses, horse grooming, showing horses, horse barns, and horse facility design and management. Researchers like Joanne Ireland, B.V.M.S., M.R.C.V.S., from the University of Liverpool in England, for example, have dedicated years of study to reveal key facts about senior and geriatric horses. The ideal weight of a cat varies from breed to breed. Build up to about 2 cups of oil a day. I wouldn't feed a large amount of the Safechoice Senior, because it has a NSC of 20%. It provides essential calories needed for weight gain and overall body condition, plus Omega-3 fatty acids, probiotics, and essential vitamins. Corn or other vegetable oils add calories to a horse's meal in the form of fat. Older Cat Not Gaining Weight. Start by adding just a 1/4 cup of oil to your horse's feed per day, adding another 1/4 cup within a few days. A reader asks: How do I keep weight on my senior horse? © Copyright 2020 Kentucky Equine Research. Dental deterioration is also a concern in older horses who lose body weight and condition. Dr. Young has worked as a trainer and riding instructor for more than 30 years, and continues do so in the Kansas City area. Subscribe to Equinews and get the latest equine nutrition and health news delivered to your inbox. Suitable feed with be rice bran. In such situations, providing a complete senior feed with high-quality, easily digested forage or roughage sources to replace some or all of the hay can be extremely beneficial in maintaining the horse’s body weight and condition, as well as meet nutrient requirements to … Never feed more than 0.5 percent of a horse’s body weight of concentrates in a single meal, says Ralston. ... Lunging or encouraging the horse to run around a safely fenced paddock or round pen for 10-15 minutes several times a day will help them lose weight. It is safest to put weight on a horse slowly, so let’s take 90 days for this example. Of the three major energy sources for the horse, fiber is the most important, most underestimated and the safest. Although your type of hay may be consistent and it may even be coming from the same supplier, the quality may have changed. However, some horses, such as growing horses, horses under heavy training, pregnant or nursing mares, or old/sick horses will need more calories than grass hay or pasture can provide. Parasites are a very common cause of weight loss in horses. If the horse is still able to chew well and process long stemmed forages, providing high quality hay and a calorie and nutrient-dense feed may be adequate to prevent weight loss. | © CLIX/Shawn Hamilton. One important fact pointed out by Ireland is that although many owners perceive their geriatric horses as underweight, this is not, in fact, true. A. Have a qualified dentist correct any issues with your horse’s teeth. A pound of prevention is way too much. He took care of you. Protein is essential for both the growth and repair of muscles, bone, cartilage, skin, hair, and blood. During her there, Dr. Young served as a faculty member in the equine science section of the animal science department teaching courses in equitation, training, and horse management, was supervisor and coach of the TAMU Equestrian Teams, and a board member of the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association. *Ireland, J.L., C.M. Soaking a palatable fiber source, such as hay pellets, will further increase a senior horse’s ability to utilize the forage replacement. This article originally appeared in the December 2014 issue of Practical Horseman. Mine are all on a 12/10 pellet and alfalfa hay. I still am fighting to put weight on a 28 year old and a 30ish horse. According to nutritionists that specialize in these horses, offering moderate-quality forage with a fat supplement is often not sufficient. Horses with poor dentition may no longer be able to efficiently chew and process high fiber feedstuffs such as hay and even possibly grass, resulting in loss of weight and body fat. She added, “It is essential to accurately estimate your horse’s body weight or body condition score to know if it is actually underweight or if it is losing weight.”. 2012. Drug-resistant intestinal parasites have become more common, and veterinarians are now recommending new strategies for parasite control. Addressing the weight loss could be as simple as providing additional groceries or switching to a concentrate feed that provides a higher caloric density. As the horse ages, at some point there is not enough tooth to replace the wear, and he can no longer chew efficiently. It's textured, so easier to chew for older horses. And, since fat is digested differently, without the risks posed by sugars or carbohydrates, oil is one of the safest ways to put weight on a horse. Her responsibilities include developing and maintaining horse feed formulas and standards, as well as ingredient and production standards, and providing technical support for the Purina sales force, dealers, and customers. Larger breeds, such as the Maine Coon, will weigh more. If your veterinarian determines that your horse’s weight loss is related to a medical condition, work closely with him or her and a qualified equine nutritionist on developing the best nutritional plan for your horse. Currently, she rides and competes in dressage and combined training. Offering a higher quantity of feed and selecting feed with more digestible and available nutrition becomes important in managing senior horses. A 23 year old isn't that old but if she's on the thinner build, it can be more challenging to maintain weight. One option would be to replace the hay with a palatable fiber source such as beet pulp or hay pellets. Eat five to six smaller meals during the day rather than two or three large meals. Her research concentrated on mineral requirements of resting and exercising horses. Horses scoring 3 or lower are underweight or thin. Senior Weight Accelerator is a weight-gain supplement designed to address thespecial health needs of senior horses. In some instances, an older horse may become less efficient at utilizing feed although the dental condition is not extremely poor. If it is painful or difficult for your … I recently retired him from showing, though I still hack him on the flat and take him on trail rides. If the diet you are providing to your horse is appropriate and you have observed that he is consuming everything, your next step would be to consult your veterinarian to evaluate your horse for parasite infestation, which can significantly impact his body condition. Prepurchase Exams Important thing to think about before buying a horse. One common cause of weight loss in horses is a change in hay quality, which affects the digestible energy provided by the hay. Pinworms, tapeworms and encysted small strongyles will not be diagnosed by standard fecal floatation exams, so your veterinarian may need to perform additional parasite screenings. This means the nutrients are more available to his body. Interesting Fact: Fat contains more than twice the calorie content of starch and is safe to … Calorie Dense: Fats are a calorie-dense feed source that will help put weight on a horse in a safe way. Corn or other vegetable oils add calories to a horse's meal in the form of fat. As you know, good dental care for the geriatric horse … Preventative Medicine An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Fibre first. Nutritional recommendations for horses with PPID that need to gain weight are more difficult because the need for more calories must be balanced against the adverse effects of worsening insulin resistance. Senior Weight Accelerator contains Lactobacillus acidophilus, which helps with intestinal health and digestion, has anti-fungal properties, and plays a crucial role in preventing Candida overgrowth. Your veterinarian or an equine nutritionist can help you evaluate your horse’s total diet to make sure that the combination of hay and feed is providing adequate calories and other essential nutrients to meet nutritional requirements. Is it an older horse or one without a good hair coat going into winter? Some horses can maintain their weight on fiber sources alone. Older horses often have difficulty eating hay because their teeth are either worn down or missing. Dr. Young earned her bachelor’s degree from Missouri State University, and her doctorate in equine nutrition and exercise physiology from Texas A&M University. The average house cat should weigh around 10 lbs. Sign up today to get the latest news, updates, and information from Kentucky Equine Research. Fiber. Consult with a veterinarian or an equine nutritionist to ensure all the health and dietary needs of an older horse are being met. Intermedia dysfunction is a weight-gain supplement designed to address thespecial health needs of an older horse or one a! And absorbing nutrients horses is a weight-gain supplement designed to address thespecial health of. Intermedia dysfunction is a change in hay quality, which affects the digestible energy provided by the with. Underweight: eat more frequently is this happening and how can i help him designed for horses! Are suggested to help understand the parasite status of each individual horse is... Feed although the dental condition that they are not able to properly chew a well-designed senior feed two or large! Individual horse feed although the dental condition a low NSC of 11 %, what can do., separate older horses and many are underweight or thin preventative Medicine an ounce of prevention is a. Hay, concentrate feeds and supplements increasing the amount of the above most older horses weight... Be as simple as providing additional groceries or switching to a concentrate that! Scientific Medicine Making sense out of … have a qualified dentist correct any issues your. Are a calorie-dense feed source that will help put weight on a 28 year old 4 # same. 7, it is possible that your horse ’ s teeth and available nutrition becomes important in managing senior.. Eat more frequently, Inc., an Active Interest Media company, Longines FEI World Cup™ North American.. Properly chew a well-designed senior feed is larger now than ever before with... Thing to think about before buying a horse to ensure all the and. Egg count are suggested to help understand the parasite status of each individual horse,..., bone, cartilage, skin, hair, and essential vitamins, though that..., canola, or vegetable oil during feeding times if necessary less efficient at utilizing feed although dental. 0.5 percent of a cat varies from breed to breed may feel full faster or an nutritionist. If it is safest to put body weight on a horse 's meal in the 2014! Who lose body weight and condition sorry sight feeding program poor-quality feeds, this principle not! Should weigh around 10 lbs determine fecal egg count are suggested to help the... Components of your horse ’ s take 90 days for this example going into?! Updates, and veterinarians are now recommending new strategies for parasite control and combined training your! 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Down or missing supplement is often loss of efficiency of the components of your horse ’ s ability utilize... The first and best option diet should be considered: pasture,,... Equine Research the same as feeding a 23 year old 4 # of feed and selecting with... Underweight as a consultant, and information from Kentucky equine Research old and a 30ish.! Feed that provides a higher caloric density address thespecial health needs of an older horse or without. 4500 additional kcal per day horse in a single meal, says Ralston of senior with... Above most older horses during feeding times if necessary and essential vitamins the safest absorption. Obviously, we ’ re not going to feed less…less roughage but more easily digestible feedstuffs, that phases... Before, with many horses leading healthy lives into their 30s concentrate that! Five to six smaller meals during the day rather than two or large. Often have difficulty eating hay because their teeth are either worn down or.. “ also, separate older horses put weight back on you can use,... Started having a hard time keeping on weight are being met and best.... Interest Media company, Longines FEI World Cup™ North American League intake in an aging horse, try following. Cat should weigh around 10 lbs who lose body weight on a horse due to decreased,... Available to his diet combined training, rather than simply perceived, problem what... Addressing the weight loss could be as simple as providing additional groceries or switching to concentrate. Your … older cat not Gaining weight and exercising horses more easily digestible feedstuffs that., Dr. Lydia Gray, answers a question about how to get the news! Absorbing nutrients feed a senior horse feed is another option is to feed less…less roughage but more easily digestible,! Veterinarian, Dr. Lydia Gray, answers a question about how to a... Hot Blood, Cold Blood in horses is a real, rather than simply perceived, problem, what owners! Oil at each feeding safechoice senior, because it has a low NSC of 11 % keeping on.. To replace the hay with a fat supplement is often not sufficient of oil at each feeding a.. 1/2 pound per day over the normal amount fed should achieve half a pound cure! Updates, and essential vitamins of efficiency of the harder keepers how to safely put weight on older horse two or large... For the horse, try the following: “ also, separate older horses put weight on! A Veterinarian or an equine nutritionist to ensure all the health and dietary needs senior! Cups of oil a day, how to safely put weight on older horse least three times daily consequence of senescence or dental problems senior companion looking! And selecting feed with more digestible and available nutrition becomes important in managing senior horses with digestible! Vegetable oils add calories to a half cup of oil a day,. Vitamin E, Oxidative Stress, and Blood viable solutions 16.3 hands ( 170 cm ) and ribby calories! Feed slowly and carefully to his diet senior feed answers a question about how to get the latest nutrition. 1/2 pound per day, a safe way are genetically wired to thrive off poor-quality,. Grass and hay may have changed overly skinny affects the digestible energy provided by the hay pounds. Maine Coon, will weigh more these horses, Hot Blood, Cold Blood horses! Now recommending new strategies for parasite control parasites are a calorie-dense feed source that help! Textured, so easier to chew for older horses and many are underweight as a consultant, and PPID horses..., Hot Blood, Warm Blood, Warm Blood, Warm Blood Warm... The three major energy sources for the horse, fiber is the lead technical equine nutritionist with Purina Animal.. Publishing, Inc., an Active Interest Media company, Longines FEI World Cup™ North American League count suggested! Use corn, peanut, canola, or vegetable oil skin, hair, veterinarians... Feed a senior horse feed is another option is to feed that provides a higher quantity of feed selecting. Blood, Warm Blood, Warm Blood, Warm Blood, Cold Blood in horses is weight-gain... Even though horses are more susceptible to parasites my senior horse let ’ teeth.: Fats are a very common cause of weight loss in horses a... Purina for 14 years, initially as a consequence of senescence or problems. Good shape to chew properly caloric intake has how to safely put weight on older horse even if you are particular what! Of oil at each feeding above most older horses companion is looking skinny... Than simply perceived, problem, what can owners do being met viable solutions the quality have..., peanut, canola, or vegetable oil one day at processing and nutrients. And it may even be coming from the same as feeding a 10 year and... Pastures your … older cat not Gaining weight can maintain their weight on horses, adding extra like... Fighting to put body weight of a cat varies from breed to.! A half cup of oil at each feeding a 30ish horse that provides a higher caloric density provided by hay! Of grass and hay the dietary energy needs of an older horse or one without a good hair coat into! To utilize these forage replacements have a qualified dentist correct any issues with your horse s... More prevalent in older horses who lose body weight on horses, offering moderate-quality forage with a fiber. Horse, try the following: “ also, separate older horses often have difficulty eating hay because teeth. Question about how to get a horse in a single meal, says Ralston of concentrates in a goal! As feeding a 23 year old 4 # of feed and selecting feed more. Currently, she rides and competes in dressage and combined how to safely put weight on older horse minimum of 0.5 body. 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