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Proper Nutrition for Your Elderly Horse

If you have horses that are living into their 20s or even 30s, you know that you will need to give them the best life possible, and one way of accomplishing this is with a good quality feed.

Over the years, specials feeds have been developed for the senior horses, and they not only allow these animals to resume their productive lives for longer periods of time, but they also help the inactive horses to remain healthier longer.

When taking a look at the senior feeds you will notice that they are formulated to help the animal digest the nutrients better, and also by containing high giver contents as well as about 12 to 14 percent of protein. Fat, as well as assorted vitamins are also added. Of course, it is not enough to simply purchase a good feed and trust that

this will take care of your elderly horse’s needs. Instead, you will also want to follow these tips:
  1. Your animal needs to have regular dental exams. Ageing causes the teeth of a horse to develop sharp points around the edges that need to be filed so that the horse will be able to chew the hay in such a way that the digestive tract will be able to extract the nutrients from the feed. If your animal cannot adequately chew the feed, not even the best feed will make any difference in the overall health of your animal. In between dental exams you may still want to have a look, especially when the animal spits out feed continuously.
  2. Those horses that may have lost a lot of their teeth, or that have teeth that are extremely worn, will benefit from your wetting down the food to create a mash. All you will need to do is combine the feed with some warm water and let is stand for about 10 minutes. The resulting mixture is easy to swallow and digest.
  3. Make sure your senior horse gets enough food. If you have an aggressive younger animal, it may crowd out the older one.
  4. Read the ingredients. The fiber used in senior horse feed needs to be highly digestible, such as beet pulp (which offers more calories than any other fiber), alfalfa hay, or even soybean hulls. This not only lowers the risk of impaction colic, but also offers the animal more calories. You will find that feeds formulated for older horses seek to replace the hay younger animals eat, or even the pasture that the horse would find. Since this kind of feed is created as a sole source of nutrition, it is oftentimes referred to as “complete” feed.
  5. Your elderly horse will need more fat than the younger ones. Six to ten percent is a given. Usually this is added with the help of vegetable oils derived from corn or soybeans. Since fat also provides many calories to the animal, the proper selection of an appropriate senior blend is important to the health of the ageing horse. In addition to maintaining its weight, a proper amount of fat in relationship to a proper amount of carbohydrates will allow the animal to also deal with its changing insulin and metabolic needs, thus decreasing the possibility of founder or laminitis.
  6. High quality forage will round out your older horse’s food. This is not the place to skimp since the lesser quality feeds will also be harder to chew, swallow and overall digest.

Read the next horse health tips article on Geriatric, Mature or Older Horses.
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