Feeding Senior Horses
Content sponsored by Bluebonnet Feeds
When it comes to feeding a senior horse, the first thing we must consider is the condition of the horse’s teeth.
Horses have teeth that grow continuously throughout their life and wear down as they chew. A horse only has so much tooth available. As they age, their teeth will eventually wear away until they are left with only gums. A yearly dental exam by your veterinarian is essential for understanding the health of your horse’s mouth and condition of his teeth. The feeding program will be very different for horses with a full set of teeth compared to horses that are missing some teeth.
Senior horses with a full set of teeth don’t necessarily need “senior feed;" in fact, they can be fed like any other horse. The majority of the diet should be good quality forage, and a feed or supplement should be used to make up for deficiencies in calories, protein, vitamins, and minerals.
Horses with missing teeth or very little tooth surface area will need a special diet such as Intensify Senior Therapy by Bluebonnet Feeds. Because they are not able to efficiently breakdown forage, these horses need a feed that that breaks down easily in the digestive tract and contains a high amount of fiber. Horses with poor dental condition are not able to break down and utilize hay and pasture very well, so a senior feed is necessary to help prolong their life.
A senior horse with poor teeth will need to consume about 1 to 1.5 percent of its body weight daily of a specially designed senior feed that meets all nutritional requirements, including fiber. That means a 1,000-pound horse with poor dental condition may need to eat 10 to 15 pounds of a complete senior feed per day. It is best if this amount is split into multiple small meals of five pounds or less. For horses missing most of their teeth, owners may need to make the feed into a “mash” by adding water and allowing it to soak for several minutes prior to feeding.
Senior feeds by Bluebonnet, such as Intensify Senior Therapy and Horseman’s Elite Senior Care, contain quality ingredients such as beet pulp, alfalfa meal, rice bran, and soybean meal and have a lysine content of at least 0.7 percent. Amino acids, such as lysine, are a significant component of the senior horse diet to help maintain topline and muscle strength of an aging horse.
Please visit www.BluebonnetFeeds.com to find a Bluebonnet dealer near you.
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