15 Dec What should you feed your old horse to help it gain weight?
In today’s age, horses can easily live up to the age of 30. Thanks to the mutual effort of owners, veterinarians and equine nutritionists, the worldwide population of senior horses is growing each day.
Keeping the right weight of your elder steeds can sometimes be a complex process. You have to ask yourself: is your horse receiving the proper nutrition and care? As animals turn older, maintaining their weight can be tricky and challenging at times. This is due to various factors. Some of them include the incapability of these four-legged creatures to chew, potential parasites, or simply not receiving enough calories. As they age, most senior horses face the loss of muscularity.
Do you own an older horse that is underweight? Would you like to learn how to nurture it? If the answer is yes, continue reading as we’ll provide you with some horse info on feeding and caring for your senior horse.
As a first step, you should make sure that your animal healthy. The best way to check it out is a veterinary exam. You should be taking your horse to the vet roughly every three-to-six months. While a vet is checking out your equine companion, it won’t hurt to double-check and make sure that its teeth are in good condition. Worn-out or missing teeth are a common condition among senior horses. Eating and digesting hay and hard grain can be really difficult if this is the case.
Let the veterinarian do the blood test. This will let you know the state of your horse’s internal organs and whether your horse has some sort of a blood deficiency or anemia.
When the exams are done, and you know that your horse is healthy, do one last check. You will need to estimate the actual bodyweight of your horse, as well as its condition. Why do you need to do that? As horses get older, they lose muscle, especially over the top line. As a result, the backbone becomes more prominent. This can lead owners to think that the horse is losing weight.
If the loss in weight is real, your horse will need some adjustments to their diet. You may be wondering, what can you do to help your old four-legged friend? Here are some suggestions that will help your horse gain back weight.
Tips for senior horses’ weight gaining
- Adding oil, or boosting the amount of fiber in the daily intake of food is one option to help your horse gain weight. On the other hand, some experts advise to feed less – less roughage to be precise. They advocate for providing more feedstuff that is easy to digest.
- As we previously mentioned, older horses may lack teeth. This can impact their eating habits. They may not be able to absorb all the necessary nutrients from their food. Therefore, they will require a type of horse feed known as “complete feed”. Complete feeds contain 100% of the horse’s daily needs of fibers and are great for horses that can’t chew effectively anymore.
- If a senior horse needs some extra calories to put back the weight, food supplements can be a good alternative. They contain vitamins, minerals, protein, and other highly important nutritional substances. However, the supplements need to be carefully chosen, for each animal. The age, gender, workload, and body condition of the animal must be taken into account when formulating the supplement.
- Senior horses usually need more time to eat and drink. They can be easily pushed away during feeding time. Therefore, separating them from the herd during the feeding period may be a good idea. However, if you don’t have the means to do so, make sure they are eating and drinking enough. Allowing them to have 24/7 access to pasture would be really beneficial. A horse’s digestive system requires them to eat small amounts of food, often.
- If you are currently making a change in your horse’s diet, make it gradually. Have patience, as the results won’t come overnight. You should start seeing the effects after two to four weeks. If there is no outcome, after this period of time perform a re-evaluation and introduce some additional adjustments.
Once the horse has put back the necessary pounds, modify its diet again, as it can easily become obese. Obesity can impact the health and fitness of your animal negatively as well.
Should you have any concerns and questions, consult your veterinarian or nutritionist. This is especially important if you are not seen the desired improvement in the horse’s state.
If you are trying to maximize the nutrients consumed by your older steed, try introducing the following steps:
- Feed a percentage of prime quality forage every day (according to the horse’s body weight)
- Introduce a “complete feed” specially designed for the older horses. The fiber should a higher digestible one, at a minimum of 0.5% of the bodyweight
- Discuss the health and feeding needs of your horse with an equine nutritionist or a veterinarian.
These steps will help your equine friend gain back his or her weight. Once in good shape, they can peacefully live and keep you company for many days to come.