When looking at your senior horses diet there is a few things to check & rule out first.
– Dental care
– Worm burden
– Pain issues (bodywork)
– Environment (companion or availability of feed/pastures, low stress)
– Health (Cushing’s disease or arthritis are common in horses over 18 years old & can affect younger horses as well – seek veterinary advice on diagnosing these conditions).
– Regular feeding 2 (to 4) x a day depending on situation. Ad-lib hay or grass 24/7. Guide is 2% of your horses body weight per day (10kg for a 500kg horse).
If you have addressed and checked all of the above, then you can look at adjusting the diet to fit your horses age, situation and horse’s health. The poor gut function along with teeth issues can contribute to poor condition and the need to feed larger quantities of feed to an aged horse.
We have several older horses here, Beau (in photo – has no front teeth left, molars ok) is 39 years old this year (2020), we also have a 23 year old retired broodmare (that’s is insulin resistant, has arthritis and mild Cushing’s symptoms), 22 year old stallion (healthy), and a few miniature ponies in their late teens.
This is what I feed to my old horses & it varies during the year depending on the availability of pasture and pasture quality. I will give you a couple of options that I adjust during the year.
Winter feeding for older horses
Quality pasture over 5cm in high available 24/7 if your horse can not eat / chew hay. Or ad-lib soft type hay like mixed pasture hay. If your older horse needs weight management then use a large hole slow feeder hay net.
Winter hard feed – fed twice a day
Copra & maxisoy (soaked to a mash with warm water)
Chaff selected on your horses requirements (my old horse has oaten chaff & option for Cushing’s low sugar chaff like rye Straw chaff or wheaten chaff
Whole lupins (soaked till soft)
Canola meal (to add fat)
Belinda’s Amazing Minerals Plus dose in feed & also Belinda’s Loose Lick ad-lib. Note; BAM+ will help with nutrient absorption, gut health and the availability of the vitamins and minerals in the supplement – great for older or growing horses.
That’s it, balanced and keeps weight on during winter – KIS (keep it simple) is my feeding belief. This diet will also apply in Summer when we have no green grass & may add lucerne chaff as well. Please note some old horses or Cushing’s horses get scours or cannot tolerate lucerne (some will get colic) so be careful.
For Spring and times of adequate grass – only feed once a day if your horses weight is good
Chaff – oaten
Belinda’s Amazing Minerals Plus in feed & Belinda’s Loose Lick ad-lib
This is what works for my horses in my situation and amounts are adjusted depending on body condition.
Photos of our 22 year old stallions top line and shiny winter coat & 23 year old broodmare that’s IR (suspected Cushing’s)
For customised diet advice, book a nutrition consult today. Full natural affordable diet plan tailored to your needs just $110 – you may just save $100’s off your feed costs & have a healthy horse (less vet bills).