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  1. #1
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    Dec. 1, 2007
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    Default Feeding the senior tooth impaired

    Share your feeding secrets of your senior horse with missing teeth. Dentist visit today and I knew my guy was missing a couple of front teeth, but learned there are more loose, so it's time to come up with a new feeding regiment for him. He has been doing fine on his feed, but 1 or 2 more teeth, he may start to have problems, especially eating grass
    Epona Farm
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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec. 20, 2009
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    3,451

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    We have a 30+ yr old guy at our barn; though he can graze, most of his "indoor" food is alfalfa cube mush. Might want to try that.
    We don't get less brave; we get a bigger sense of self-preservation........



  3. #3
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    Jan. 26, 2007
    Location
    Iowa
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    798

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    We fed our 37 year old soaked beet pulp and alfalfa pellets, plus some senior grain depending on the season, for over 7 years and he thrived. He would wad up hay and grass so he didn't get any other forages.

    He didn't have any usable teeth left.
    Last edited by My Two Cents; Oct. 22, 2012 at 09:51 PM. Reason: Added



  4. #4
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    Mar. 31, 2012
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    Coastal NC
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    My senior made it to 42 ( he was born the same year as my brother.) Although we lost him last Christmas he stayed healthy and fat for many years on beet pulp, senior feed, and a rice bran supplement from purina called amplify. The most important thing was to make sure he had feed available all day long.



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug. 11, 2008
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    The sweet sweet 50
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    My 29 year old guy is now down 4 teeth but also has severe wave mouth, and many of his remaining teeth are at gum level. He lives out and is still able to graze but hay is starting to become a problem. Im slowly switching him to a beet pulp-hay stretcher-alfalfa cube mash with equimin, probiotics and previcox that will be left out for him to munch on. But, he's currently out with a mare that will happily finish whatever he temporarily walks away from. To solve that, I picked up up a mini and her mini-nubi goat friend who can't reach the bucket, but who will are great companions.



  6. #6
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    Jul. 17, 2009
    Location
    south eastern US
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    2,521

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    My 29 year old mare has no molars so she just wads up grass and hay into balls that she drops everywhere. I've been feeding her soaked plain beet pulp pellets and alfalfa cubes. She gets a total of:
    6 lbs alfalfa cubes dry wt
    2.5 - 3 lbs plain beet pulp pellets dry wt
    3 pounds alfalfa pellets dry wt
    2 pounds low starch/high fat extruded pellets
    all split into 3 feedings.
    She really started having some serious health issues until I figured out that since she can no longer effectively graze she needed to be fed her soaked rations at least 3 times daily, this has kept her blood sugar/insulin levels from dipping and spiking. Feeding her more often has worked very well. Once we feed a meal we start the next meal soaking. I soak all buckets inside the house so they aren't affected by heat or insects. It is way more challenging to feed a senior as their teeth fail but so worth it.
    "My biggest fear is that when I die my husband is going to try to sell all my horses and tack for what I told him they cost."



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov. 23, 2001
    Location
    Catharpin, Virginia
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    6,897

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    Yes, mush. I posted a recipe that I used for my VERY elder fellow whose front teeth were down to nubs and who was missing many back teeth. It was before the days of senior feed (which tells you how old I may be...). Once senior feed arrived on the scene this was his diet the last 12 years of his life. He was also dealing with kidney issues, thus all the water. He died at age 42.

    3 lbs Senior feed (beet pulp based, not rice hull based)
    1/2 lb. of alfalfa cubes or alfalfa/timothy mix cubes to provide "long-stem" fiber to keep the gut moving
    1 tsp. electrolyte (I made mine with a mix of 1/2 regular salt (sodium chloride) and 1/2 "lite" salt (potassium chloride).

    I'd put it in a big 5 gal bucket and fill 2/3 full with HOT water and let it soak for about 1/2 hour before feeding -- but running my fingers through to break up and cubes that may not have dissolved to mush. I fed it in a big rubbermaid ground feeder.

    He'd suck it down, the toothless wonder and he looked fantastic until the very end, when his organs, at that age, were finally giving out.

    4 x day in the summer and 5 x day in the winter, because he could not eat the "late" hay I typically feed all the horses in the cold winter.

    This super slurry got about 12-15 gals of water into him as well, which helped his kidney function longer as well.

    Hope this helps.



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb. 11, 2011
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    1,395

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by horsetales View Post
    Share your feeding secrets of your senior horse with missing teeth. Dentist visit today and I knew my guy was missing a couple of front teeth, but learned there are more loose, so it's time to come up with a new feeding regiment for him. He has been doing fine on his feed, but 1 or 2 more teeth, he may start to have problems, especially eating grass
    It is always a progression...the teeth I mean. You may find that switching from more grass hay to less grass hay and more alfalfa works fine for several years. My Chippers is 25yrs and the teeth started failing last year. He has a hard time with grass hay and quids wads out. But no issues yet for fine stemmed alfalfa. He is a greedy boy about his alfalfa too. Any other darn look his way while eating and he fires back the look of death. The hubby commented about the horses shark like attitude at hay time....I responded with his alfalfa is his crack dear and you are not dealing out his crack fast enough to suit him.

    From there you progress to soaked hay cubes as they age as cubes do meet your coarse fiber requirement.

    The rest of the ration can be created as needs be. What is the horse eating now? You can make your own senior feed if needs be or rip open a bag if that is your preference. If he does well on the feed he is eating now it can be wetted if a pellet or fiber type textured feed. Or it can be crockpotted if his feed is a coarse blend of grains.

    But I guess the most important idea to remember is as a horse ages from tooth to tail they just are not able to digest fiber as well. So think how can I improve feed form and how can I raise their nutritonal plane to compensate.

    Sounds like you are years away from it but they seem to hanging around here to the age where 100% senior feeding ends up being the only choice. Most live well into their 30's. I figure the 3 I now have in their 20's got it good just now. I mean when your retired would you just love to have more and better food catered to you, plenty of leisure time, and some youths to harass when you are bored and got nothing better to do?



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb. 5, 2002
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    2,162

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    Based on my experience, the biggest issue is going to be how your particular horse handles hay. One of mine picks through and eats the tiny pieces of alfalfa, takes a mouthful of the finer stems and sucks on it (for hours...) and then spits it out. You can tell he doesn't even bother chewing it because the hay is wet and frothy but still in original form. He doesn't even try to swallow it. My other horse does a couple things. Sometimes he will take hay into his mouth and simply open his mouth and let it fall out, sometimes he will root through the hay I give him, picking out the perfect pieces, and leaving the rest, and sometimes he will attempt to eat what's provided and quid all over the place. With that horse, he will break your arm trying to get at a pail of soaked feed, as if he hadn't been feed in weeks, when there is a perfectly good flake of hay right in front of him that he just tossed around and peed in. He's a 1200lb TB and the thought of providing enough soaked feed to keep him going in his dotage absolutely frightens me. The other toothless guy is an Arab with a ridiculously high metabolism and malabsorption and he is eating me out of house and home already.

    A couple years ago I calculated "nutritional bang for the buck" for the various products I had access to. It was interesting, and I ought to do it again since feed prices have changed so much with the drought. In the end I decided to keep it simple and pretty much stick to Ultium and beet pulp, since the Arab has issues with volume and we board so we have logistical constraints. Bang for the buck, and bang for the bite...



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep. 19, 2003
    Location
    Brentwood, NH
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    1,079

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    I have a 23 year old welsh/arab cross pony mare who has lost several teeth and has a wave mouth. She is quidding her hay, so we've cut down to two flakes of 2nd cut grass hay (one A.M., one at late nite) when she can't have grass (we have a real winter here, so no grass from about now until next May.) She does seem to manage to eat grass. Anyway, she is on Blue Seal Senior Sentinel, not sure of the weight, but she gets roughly 4 qts of that AM, soaked, then 2 qts of it for lunch, dinner and late nite. In addition, she gets 1 qt of beet pulp pellets, soaked, for lunch, dinner and late nite, and 1 qt of timothy/alfalfa cubes, soaked, for lunch, dinner and late nite. She also gets 1/2 pound of rice bran powder (Custom fit?) once a day, Senior Flex, Red Cell pellets and UGard pellets. She is turned out alone, except when out on pasture. She gets her Senior pellets in her stall in the A.M. then gets to go out with her best buddy who is a 24 year old mare on pasture for the morning, then they are separated in side by side paddocks for the rest of the day so Vegas can take her time on her mash. She is still thin, but looks much better than she did last year when we were still trying to feed hay. I basically give her all the beet pulp and timothy/alfalfa cubes she will eat, because I figure that is what is replacing her hay.

    She did have a bad colic this August, we had a week of heavy rain and we don't pasture during heavy rain, so she was on hay instead of grass and she got impacted. That's when we started soaking the Senior pellets, before that we had been feeding them dry. She prefers dry.

    I am following this thread in hopes of picking up tips for my old girl, and sharing what we do in hopes it will help some other old gray mare.

    I have found, after a couple of years of retirement, that she eats better and is happier when working. Even though she is thin, we take her places and let her play (she is a mounted games pony) and her attitude towards life is 100% better.



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec. 9, 2010
    Posts
    589

    Wink

    I feed mostly Senior to one oldster. In summer they pick grass, chew and suck the juices,spitting out the quid, in winter the hay is played with.

    Another senior is doing well with Senior feed, grass , and very fine hay.
    Taking it day by day!



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov. 15, 2005
    Location
    Eastern Shore, MD
    Posts
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    Default

    Min did really well on chopped forage (he liked the TNT brand or Lucerne Farms Alfa Supreme, but not the Triple Crown Alfalfa), TC senior+Buckeye Grow N Win + Ultimate Finish soaked into soup, soaked until soupy alfalfa pellets and whatever goodness he could get out of his pasture (which was probably benefitting him more mentally than physically - he dropped quids everywhere!) Regular hay did not work for him - he'd sift out the leaves and fines from his alfalfa, but that was it.

    If he were still around, I'd check into the new "Hydration Hay" that Purina has just introduced - I saw it at Fair Hill this weekend, and it looks like it would be perfect for the dentally impaired.



  13. #13
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    Jun. 14, 2006
    Location
    VA
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    11,372

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    Have not read all the replies yet.

    My old guy choked at age 27. Hadn't had the best care in his early life so wasn't shocked.

    For the next 5 years (until arthritis did him in), he was on senior feed plus soaked alfalfa cubes for "long fiber". I did let him out to graze on tender new shoots, but not normal pasture, no hay. He was fed 3 times per day at minimum, sometimes 4. Always soaked.

    Loved Nutrena Senior and TC senior but again, always added alfalfa cubes (soaked as well.)

    His weight was awesome til the day he died. And he was euth'd not due to dentition or weight but due to the fact we couldn't keep him comfortable anymore with the arthritis.
    A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

    Might be a reason, never an excuse...



  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec. 1, 2007
    Location
    Gettysburg, PA
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    Quote Originally Posted by BuddyRoo View Post
    His weight was awesome til the day he died. And he was euth'd not due to dentition or weight but due to the fact we couldn't keep him comfortable anymore with the arthritis.
    Thanks everyone. Gives me some good ideas to look at as his teeth or lack of become a real issue. He has DSLD as well, but still comfy and loving life, so I hope I can keep him going until comfort is the primary problem

    Hime today http://s7.photobucket.com/albums/y27...an10-23-12.jpg
    Epona Farm
    Irish Draughts and Irish Sport horses

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  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jun. 14, 2006
    Location
    VA
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    Awwww, he's handsome!

    Best wishes!

    My BuddyRoo had no teeth, did great on his mash, and was a happy camper except for the shoulder arthritis he had due to being gored by a bull as a 4YO.

    It just got to be too much even with cortisone shots and Adequan. But the food was never really an issue. He did great on his diet. But more frequent meals are a must because they're really not set up to take in all their calories in a meal or two. That's the hard part. The more frequent feedings.

    You can do it!
    A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

    Might be a reason, never an excuse...



  16. #16
    Join Date
    Oct. 25, 2007
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    3,580

    Default

    My mare, who has Delayed gastric emptying can not ever eat hay. Nor beet pulp, or cubes, etc.
    Her stomach cannot empty out anything other than a mash.
    For quite some time, I had her on a senior mash, approximately 24 pounds a day. She is a 2,000 pound percheron, so needs a lot.

    Anyhow, I was speaking to the Poulin rep, and he suggested their ration balancer, MVP. So she gets 2 pounds of that a day(one am and one pm). In between, I give her soaked alfalfa pellets and soaked hay stretcher.
    She is also on pasture, which mentally has done wonders for her.

    The Poulin rep did not feel it was a good idea to feed her such large amounts of senior feed, because there coud be oversupplementing her. It was meant to be fed a certain amount, but not the amount I was doing. It made sense.
    My mare has done really well on this diet.
    Unfortunately, it is extremely high maintenance, and I need to go do another feeding~ I give her 2 pounds every hour in the morning and again afternoon thru the evening up till 10pm. other time, she is on turnout.
    this may not be so easy for most people, but it works well for her. It is easily adjusted based on her weight and the grass. The alfalfa and hay stretcher pellets soak into smoothie like mixture.
    save lives...spay/neuter/geld



  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jun. 30, 2006
    Location
    Middle Tennessee
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    5,274

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    Quote Originally Posted by PRS View Post
    6 lbs alfalfa cubes dry wt
    2.5 - 3 lbs plain beet pulp pellets dry wt
    3 pounds alfalfa pellets dry wt
    2 pounds low starch/high fat extruded pellets
    I'm fearing this is at least what my now 25 year old TB will need to start eating in the not so distant future. I believe he's lost 7 teeth now and is starting to have difficulty with coarse and stemmy hay. God love the horse, but he's a calorie incinerator...
    Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO



  18. #18
    Join Date
    Dec. 29, 2005
    Location
    Ojai, CA
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    Can I just say that I think all you posters are incredible with how well you dealt with your older horses' needs! Right now I'm feeding a 24-year-old and a 30-year-old (both TBs) and so far haven't had to go beyond soaked beet pulp, TC senior and soaked pellets (in addition to their hay). It's reassuring to know how successful you all were in keeping your critters happy and healthy until the end.
    R.I.P. Ollie (2007-2010) You were small in stature but huge in spirit. You will never be forgotten.

    Godspeed, Benjamin (1998-2014). A life well-lived. A horse well-loved.



  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jan. 23, 2007
    Location
    CT
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    403

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    My older dentally challenged mare will NOT eat anything soaked, no matter how hungry she is. For awhile I had her eating TNT chops in place of hay, but she grew bored of it and won't touch chopped hay products anymore.

    Right now I'm feeding her some Blue Seal extruded feed which is easy to chew, along with hay stretcher, BS trotter pellets and alfalfa pellets mixed together. She eats this bit by bit all day long. I was a bit afraid about choke, but she eats very slowly/carefully and will not touch things if they are wet.

    She will NOT eat beet pulp or even TC senior, unfortunately. She does eat some hay, maybe 6-8 lbs per 24 hours, but picks through it never finishes it.



  20. #20
    Join Date
    Feb. 24, 2011
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    596

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    There is a very old horse at my barn who gets a soaked mixture of TNT Chops, beet pulp, rolled barley, and Calf Manna. He can't really eat hay anymore, but still goes out to graze every day (I'm not sure how much grass he is actually able to chew and digest). He is in good weight, has a nice coat and excellent feet.



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