how to safely put weight on older horse

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Dental deterioration is also a concern in older horses who lose body weight and condition. Offering a higher quantity of feed and selecting feed with more digestible and available nutrition becomes important in managing senior horses. Dietary requirements (energy and nutrients) are determined by many factors including breed, sex, age, activity level, reproductive status, housing and health status. ... (such as alfalfa). Some geriatric horses have such compromised dental condition that they are not able to properly chew a well-designed senior feed. Older horses Taking care of your old buddy. Eat five to six smaller meals during the day rather than two or three large meals. Obviously, we’re not going to feed that in one day! Once you have made diet changes, use a weight tape weekly to track your horse’s weight gain progress. 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. One option would be to replace the hay with a palatable fiber source such as beet pulp or hay pellets. Regular dental care is essential to maintain the horse’s teeth in good shape to chew properly. 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. Increasing the amount of roughage or adding oil to the diet are both viable solutions. Why is this happening and how can I help him? Triple Crown Senior has a low NSC of 11.7% so should be safe to feed in whatever quantity it takes to put weight on your horse. 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. If weight loss is a real, rather than simply perceived, problem, what can owners do? 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. Fibre first. 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. Her research concentrated on mineral requirements of resting and exercising horses. There may be metabolic issues involved. “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. 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. 2012. 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 … Prepurchase Exams Important thing to think about before buying a horse. Organic Horse Feed, Oasis Alfalfa Pellets. 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. Fiber is the major component of grass and hay. One common cause of weight loss in horses is a change in hay quality, which affects the digestible energy provided by the hay. It's textured, so easier to chew for older horses. *Ireland, J.L., C.M. If it is painful or difficult for your … 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. Clegg, et al. It’s natural to worry if your senior companion is looking overly skinny. Shuster is 16.3 hands (170 cm) and ribby. 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. It is possible that your horse’s dietary caloric intake has decreased even if you have not changed your feeding program. Researchers hypothesize that consistently providing high-quality forage needed to meet the dietary energy needs of senior horses can be a losing battle. A Weight Gain Supplement for Older Horses. Larger breeds, such as the Maine Coon, will weigh more. 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. 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. Parasites are a very common cause of weight loss in horses. The senior horse population is larger now than ever before, with many horses leading healthy lives into their 30s. A couple of pounds of rice bran in combination with beet pulp often does a nice job of putting weight on horses. Feed a senior horse more frequently, at least three times daily. In addition, the roots of a young mature horse’s teeth are his lifetime supply of tooth to replace what is worn away. A commercially prepared senior horse feed is another option for older horses with poor dental condition. One important fact pointed out by Ireland is that although many owners perceive their geriatric horses as underweight, this is not, in fact, true. Possible Link Between Selenium and Cribbing in Horses, Hot Blood, Warm Blood, Cold Blood in Horses. Most horses will willingly eat up to a half cup of oil at each feeding. 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. 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 It provides essential calories needed for weight gain and overall body condition, plus Omega-3 fatty acids, probiotics, and essential vitamins. Older Cat Not Gaining Weight. The Veterinary Journal. 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. Even though horses are genetically wired to thrive off poor-quality feeds, this principle does not generally apply to senior horses. Soaking a palatable fiber source, such as hay pellets, will further increase a senior horse’s ability to utilize the forage replacement. All of the components of your horse’s diet should be considered: pasture, hay, concentrate feeds and supplements. This article originally appeared in the December 2014 issue of Practical Horseman. Remember, though, that certain phases and types of parasites may not be reflected in a fecal exam. A 23 year old isn't that old but if she's on the thinner build, it can be more challenging to maintain weight. 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. 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. 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. She has worked with Purina for 14 years, initially as a consultant, and more recently as manager of Equine Nutritional Services. These may be reasons to put body weight on a horse. Corn or other vegetable oils add calories to a horse's meal in the form of fat. Addressing the weight loss could be as simple as providing additional groceries or switching to a concentrate feed that provides a higher caloric density. 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.”. 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. Mine are all on a 12/10 pellet and alfalfa hay. Preventative Medicine An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Dr. Katie Young is the lead technical equine nutritionist with Purina Animal Nutrition. Consider adding oils to the feed. To maximize nutrient intake in an aging horse, try the following: “Also, separate older horses during feeding times if necessary. Regardless of age, fibre is the most important part of every horse’s diet and is vital for … About 4500 additional kcal per day over the normal amount fed should achieve half a pound of gain per day. Have a qualified dentist correct any issues with your horse’s teeth. The average house cat should weigh around 10 lbs. 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. Scientific Medicine Making sense out of … Is it an older horse or one without a good hair coat going into winter? They are thin and therefore will need more feed to increase its weight. 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. Although your type of hay may be consistent and it may even be coming from the same supplier, the quality may have changed. Dr. Young has worked as a trainer and riding instructor for more than 30 years, and continues do so in the Kansas City area. According to nutritionists that specialize in these horses, offering moderate-quality forage with a fat supplement is often not sufficient. Older horses often have difficulty eating hay because their teeth are either worn down or missing. As you know, good dental care for the geriatric horse … When trying to put weight on horses, adding extra hay like you’re doing is always the first and best option. A pound of prevention is way too much. I recently retired him from showing, though I still hack him on the flat and take him on trail rides. The ideal weight of a cat varies from breed to breed. ... 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. Interesting Fact: Fat contains more than twice the calorie content of starch and is safe to … Q. Currently, she rides and competes in dressage and combined training. I still am fighting to put weight on a 28 year old and a 30ish horse. First, select a product that is formulated for your horse’s stage of life and activity level. Feed 1% of a high-quality forage daily (based on body weight). | © CLIX/Shawn Hamilton. 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. Pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction is a disease of older horses and many are underweight as a consequence of senescence or dental problems. Then, follow the instructions on the label to introduce the feed slowly and carefully to his diet. A reader asks: How do I keep weight on my senior horse? Suitable feed with be rice bran. You can use corn, peanut, canola, or vegetable oil. So feeding a 10 year old 4# of feed isn't the same as feeding a 23 year old 4#. 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). Here are some healthy ways to gain weight when you're underweight: Eat more frequently. A. 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). 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. If the horse is on the lower end of this range, you will need to feed them with feed that is high in protein. © Copyright 2020 Kentucky Equine Research. Never feed more than 0.5 percent of a horse’s body weight of concentrates in a single meal, says Ralston. 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. A survey of health care and disease in geriatric horses aged 30 years or older. 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. 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. I supplement with afalfa pellets on some of the harder keepers. SmartPak's Staff Veterinarian, Dr. Lydia Gray, answers a question about how to get a horse to gain weight. Consult with a veterinarian or an equine nutritionist to ensure all the health and dietary needs of an older horse are being met. I wouldn't feed a large amount of the Safechoice Senior, because it has a NSC of 20%. 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. When you're underweight, you may feel full faster. All Rights Reserved. It is safest to put weight on a horse slowly, so let’s take 90 days for this example. Offer a complete feed specifically designed for senior horses with higher digestible fiber at a minimum of 0.5% body weight. More hay in its feeder or longer grazing time may be all it takes to see weight gain. © 2020 by Cruz Bay Publishing, Inc., an Active Interest Media company, Longines FEI World Cup™ North American League. 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. If your horse’s condition is at 4 to 7, it is considered to be healthy and fit. Horses younger than 3 years old and older horses are more susceptible to parasites. If you are particular about what kind of pastures your … Senior Weight Accelerator is a weight-gain supplement designed to address thespecial health needs of senior horses. As the horse ages, at some point there is not enough tooth to replace the wear, and he can no longer chew efficiently. Q: I'm unhappy with my 14-year-old Thoroughbred gelding's weight. 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. 192:57-64. Most horses will willingly eat up to a half cup of oil at each feeding. Vitamin E, Oxidative Stress, and PPID in Horses: Is There a Link? 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. Lipomas appear to be more prevalent in older horses (over 15 years of age). 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. Part of the aging process is often loss of efficiency of the digestive tract due to decreased motility, digestion and absorption of nutrients. 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. Some horses can maintain their weight on fiber sources alone. Corn or other vegetable oils add calories to a horse's meal in the form of fat. 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. This means the nutrients are more available to his body. This increase in older horses is primarily attributable to the focused efforts of veterinarians, nutritionists, and owners to improve understanding of the special needs of senior steeds. Subscribe to Equinews and get the latest equine nutrition and health news delivered to your inbox. 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. 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. Horses scoring 3 or lower are underweight or thin. Protein is essential for both the growth and repair of muscles, bone, cartilage, skin, hair, and blood. An excessively thin cat can be a sorry sight. 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. Tips and Tricks to Get a Horse to Gain Weight. 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. Sign up for free now! The digestive system in older horses tends to be less efficient at processing and absorbing nutrients. 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. He took care of you. 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. Soaking will further increase the horse’s ability to utilize these forage replacements. Periodic fecal exams to determine fecal egg count are suggested to help understand the parasite status of each individual horse. Protein promotes weight gain. Of the three major energy sources for the horse, fiber is the most important, most underestimated and the safest. I’m especially concerned about him as winter approaches. My recently retired 20-year-old OTTB gelding has started having a hard time keeping on weight. Safechoice also has the Special Care feed which has a low NSC of 11%. Build up to about 2 cups of oil a day. 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. To maximize nutrient intake in an aging horse, try the following: Feed 1% of a high-quality forage daily (based on body weight). Fiber. In some instances, an older horse may become less efficient at utilizing feed although the dental condition is not extremely poor. 45 pounds of gain in 90 days is 1/2 pound per day, a safe goal to aim for. A survey of health care and disease in geriatric horses aged 30 years or older. Another option is to feed less…less roughage but more easily digestible feedstuffs, that is. Calorie Dense: Fats are a calorie-dense feed source that will help put weight on a horse in a safe way. By combining all of the above most older horses put weight back on. Sign up today to get the latest news, updates, and information from Kentucky Equine Research. Drug-resistant intestinal parasites have become more common, and veterinarians are now recommending new strategies for parasite control. 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. McGowan, P.D. Energy needs of senior horses can maintain their weight on my senior more. Rather than two or three large meals adding oil to the diet are viable... Are both viable solutions a disease of older horses put weight back on first. 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Is possible that your horse ’ s diet should be considered: pasture, hay concentrate... Of grass and hay disease of older horses put weight back on fecal Exams to determine fecal egg count suggested. The senior horse more frequently, at least three times daily horse 's meal in the form of fat loss! 2020 by Cruz Bay Publishing, Inc., an Active Interest Media company, Longines World... May feel full faster higher caloric density or vegetable oil of weight loss in.. ) and ribby a higher quantity of feed is n't the same as a! On trail rides instructions on the label to introduce the feed slowly and carefully to his body now! A consultant, and more recently as manager of equine Nutritional Services well-designed feed. That consistently providing high-quality forage needed to meet the dietary energy needs of senior horses can maintain their weight my. Less efficient at utilizing feed although the dental condition is at 4 to 7, it is to. 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