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Adding weight to younger side of senior WB

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  • Adding weight to younger side of senior WB

    20 year old 17.3h WB has recently (over the past 3 months) started to lose weight and condition. Over the past few years we've worked really hard on building up his top line and now he is losing it a little as well as you can definitely see his hips and he is getting ribby. He has not been a hard keeper until now and eats whatever you put in front of him. I have read through all the posts on COTH and the information is a bit overwhelming as I have very little knowledge about equine nutrition. I've talked to my trainer and we are going to gradually add canola oil to his diet, but I'm wondering what else would be helpful that I should try in conjunction with or instead of this.

    His teeth are going to be done soon (just coming due) and he just saw the vet for shots last week. We added more grain and hay already. Turned out for 6-7 hours a day depending on weather. He is in moderate work, 2'6" and under jumping and dressage. He gets the following in both the AM and the PM:
    - 3 brome flakes (6 brome flakes daily)
    - 2 alfalfa flakes (4 alfalfa flakes daily)
    - 2 scoops (2qt scoop) Purina Senior (~8lb grain daily)

    It has been about a month since we upped his grain/hay and I haven't seen a difference. I'm going to pick up oil today and start adding it to his diet. Educate me! Is there more I can/should try right now or should I hold off and see how adding oil works before adding more stuff to his diet? I've listed products with good reviews that I jotted down from previous topics below. I just don't know what works with what I already feed, what will work with oil added, etc... or what is more of a waste of money than truly effective:
    - Buckeye Nutrition Ultimate (looked this up and there is a 40 and a 100 - what would be ideal if I were to go that route?)
    - Renew Gold*
    - Nutrena Empower Boost *
    - Cool Calories *
    - Legends Omega Plus

    Should I also be adding some kind of muscle supplement to help with his top line and loss of muscle mass?

    I'm not opposed to ordering smartpaks, but a lot of these suggestions don't seem to be available that way so I am more than willing to scoop into my own bags as well (large boarding barn so I'll need to portion out). My local feed stores carry the ones marked with * above. Prefer not to have anything that requires lengthy soaking (ie beet pulp) if there are other still effective methods to try first.

  • #2
    How many POUNDS of hay is he eating? Flake is a meaningless measurement.

    Has he been tested for Cushing's? He's of age and the timing is right for the seasonal hormone rise.

    ????

    Comment


    • #3
      Up his hay to as much as he can possibly eat. Preferably alfalfa. Then Try breaking down his food into 3 meals vs 2.

      My favorite fat add on is Legends Omega Plus. It works really well and most horse love it.

      Simkie is correct, test for Cushings.
      "Anyone who tries to make brownies without butter should be arrested." Ina Garten

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      • #4
        What are the feeding instructions on the bag of Purina Senior? Instead of adding stuff, why not simply feed more? And he should have hay/pasture at all times.

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        • #5
          I'm with Palm Beach-what does the bag tell you to feed a horse that big? 8 lbs doesn't sound like much for a big guy. Also, you didn't cover your deworming schedule. Have you had a fecal count done lately? A horse that big has probably been under dosed in his past. You might need to power pack. When the vet comes to do his teeth, you might want to ask about that.

          Ag schools (like NC State) have good websites full of nutrition info. They are a good place to start educating yourself.

          Comment


          • #6
            Is it possible for him to have more hay/free choice forage? Heavier on the alfalfa side.

            Getting his teeth done is also a great place to start. Other cheaper diagnostics could include a fecal test and blood panel. Then you'll know what your working with. You can throw all sorts of feed and supplements at a horse, but if they have bad teeth, a parasitic load, or mineral imbalance, it can do little good.

            Has his hair and coat maintained good condition? As well as hooves? Is it just purely muscle and fat being lost?

            I also know nothing about Purina Senior and the feeding recommendations, but I'd look at those too.

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              I can talk to my trainer/barn owner (his owner I'm the leaser) about more hay. I know that we've recently had steep price increases to cover what horses already eat due to the cost of hay. It was not a good year for hay out here with the droughts. I will see if it is possible to add more alfalfa. When I look up the Purina Senior feed requirements it does show that he probably needs more grain. I'm pretty sure our scoop is a 2qt... but it could be a 3qt and I'm underestimating. I'll check that tonight and if it is a 3qt then he would be getting the right amount of grain based on Purinas site. I don't know for sure the weight of the flakes of hay. Here is the feed chart: https://www.purinamills.com/horse-fe...ior-horse-feed

              The Tractor Supply site had some really good information on it that I found while digging into the comments:
              "The fat is a bit lower intentionally due to this being a complete ration (replacing hay/pasture) if needed. A senior aged horse eating our Purine Equine Senior at the rate of 15-20 lbs. per day (or more), does not need a fat percentage of 8% in a diet. If you are feeding it at a lesser rate and want to boost the fat, we have the Amplify supplement that may be added as a top dress. The Amplify is 30% fat. Or, if you prefer to feed a Senior product and does not replace hay, the Equine Senior Active is available at Purina dealers [and] contains 10% fat."

              Purina Senior Ingredients: INGREDIENTS: Sun Cured Alfalfa, Wheat Middlings, Ground Soybean Hulls, Cane Molasses, Rice Bran, Oat Hulls, Dehulled Soybean Meal, Dried Beet Pulp, Stabilized Rice Bran, Soybean Oil, Ground Corn, Vegetable Oil, Flaxseed, Salt, Yeast Culture, Calcium Carbonate, Citric Acid, Choline Chloride, Vitamin E Supplement, Propionic Acid (a Preservative), Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Rice Hulls, Magnesium Oxide, Silicon Dioxide, Manganous Oxide, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Zinc Oxide, Saccharin Sodium, Ferrous Carbonate, Copper Sulfate, Niacin Supplement, Maltodextrin, Calcium Iodate, Cobalt Carbonate, Calcium Pantothenate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Ferrous Sulfate, Sodium Selenite, Colored with Iron Oxide, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols (Form of Vitamin E), Vitamin B-12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Dicalcium Phosphate, Monocalcium Phosphate, Corn Oil, Rosemary Extract, L-Lysine, Riboflavin Supplement, DL-Methionine,.

              I'm wondering if maybe switching to the Senior Active would be good to do? I'm not sure if it is possibly getting discontinued though as I'm not finding it in my local stores and a few sites show it on back order?

              He was just recently dewormed... but I do not believe we have done a fecal count or any blood workout recently. I will talk to my trainer about if that has been done recently and if not getting those tests done.

              Coat is in good condition - was shiny all spring/summer and is still looking good, just growing fuzzy. He is barefoot and his hooves are in good condition.

              Originally posted by lesson junkie View Post
              Ag schools (like NC State) have good websites full of nutrition info. They are a good place to start educating yourself.
              Should have paid attention in my equine science & nutrition classes before I switched majors! My alma mater does have good information, as do other schools for sure, and I am trying to do some research... but I find it easier (for me) to learn what products are helpful from others and their experiences. I also have quite the number of equine vet, nutrition, farrier, etc books in my library that I can read through and probably should sooner rather than later.
              Last edited by rockonxox; Oct. 12, 2018, 03:53 PM. Reason: changed oz to qt, oops!

              Comment


              • #8
                My 17.2 hand warmblood who is older than yours (27 now), now needs a big increase in grain going into fall/winter. And I mean a BIG increase. In spring/summer he only gets 2qts of food, 1 time a day. In fall & winter he needs 6qts, twice a day. I also use Equine Senior, but he gets 1/2 Equine Senior and 1/2 Alfalfa pellets to make up each 6qrt meal. I do add Purina Amplify once it gets cold and stays cold. He's out 24/7 on a 4 acre pasture and in winter has free choice hay with a big chunk of compressed alfalfa sprinkled over it.

                However, when my horse suddenly started "declining" at 25, he was checked by the vet (teeth, blood work, etc.) before really upping his food to make sure there was nothing else wrong. Vet also had me switch to soaking his food (due to some tooth loss). He looks fabulous now.
                ~~ How do you catch a loose horse? Make a noise like a carrot! - British Cavalry joke ~~

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                • #9
                  rockonxox - if you want to add fat, add fat, don't add a supplement that is only 30% fat because then you are paying for something that is 70% other stuff. And I think you mean "qt" not "oz" when talking about your scoop. 2-3 oz is good when mixing a cocktail, not so good when feeding a horse.

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    Originally posted by Palm Beach View Post
                    rockonxox - if you want to add fat, add fat, don't add a supplement that is only 30% fat because then you are paying for something that is 70% other stuff. And I think you mean "qt" not "oz" when talking about your scoop. 2-3 oz is good when mixing a cocktail, not so good when feeding a horse.
                    Yep, definitely meant qt (had it right in the OP but brain fart on the follow up post)! Good tip also, I wasn't thinking of things in that way.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      While its true that not all horses need a fat supplement to maintain condition, for others, its not feasible to feed enough grain to get enough calories into the horse, even those that get decent hay. So adding oil or a fat supplement is a great way to add the needed calories without trying to shove gallons of feed down the horse.

                      Fat supplements (and there are many) are highly concentrated and contain 20% to 45% fat. But that doesn't mean the rest is air. Equine senior is just 5.5% fat, but that doesn't mean the other 94.5% isn't beneficial.

                      As horses age, their metabolism changes, their teeth can have issues, they have more difficulty maintaining body temperature, etc. Each horse is different and the trick is finding the right combination of feed/supplements to keep the horse in good condition as it ages. It can take some trial and error. Your vet I'm sure will have some suggestions as well.
                      ~~ How do you catch a loose horse? Make a noise like a carrot! - British Cavalry joke ~~

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Some fat supplements are 100% fat, and very inexpensive too.

                        I usually look at my roughage and concentrate, and then compare any supplement to what I am already feeding. I personally don't see the point in feeding a "fat" supplement that has lots of teeny tiny bits of other stuff that is already present in my concentrate, but really doesn't have a whole lot of fat in it, when I am specifically looking to increase total fat % of the diet.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Simkie View Post
                          How many POUNDS of hay is he eating? Flake is a meaningless measurement.

                          Has he been tested for Cushing's? He's of age and the timing is right for the seasonal hormone rise.

                          ????
                          Agree with Cushing's as a possibility. My horse was an extremely easy keeper and weight starting to be a little funny was one of the early signs.

                          I'm personally a big fan of Cocosoya for weight. Also highly recommend Dr's Foster and Smith's version of Weight Builder. And don't discount the benefits of just a good, basic vitamin supplement (Megacell is my pick).

                          If it is Cushing's I have to plug SmartPituitary from SmartPak. That stuff is amazing...truly a godsend for Cushing's horses.
                          *Wendy* 4.17.73 - 12.20.05
                          *Missy* 2.2.88/89 - 9.3.18

                          Gone but never forgotten.

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            Just wanted to give an update on how things are going. I've been getting compliments on how much better my guy looks now so thankfully there were no major health issues going on, just needed to make a few tweaks in feeding. We have added more hay to his diet and he always has some in his stall now and also put a large feeder in the pasture so that he has plenty during turnout as well now that the grass is non existent (thanks winter). I also added oil to his diet and he is getting 1 cup a day.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I swear by Envison by progressive nutrition. My 26 year old paint with chronic kidney disease looks like he's 15 because of it. It barely adds any volume to the feed (my boy is on a coffee mug scoop) and it packs on the weight

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by rockonxox View Post
                                I can talk to my trainer/barn owner (his owner I'm the leaser) about more hay. I know that we've recently had steep price increases to cover what horses already eat due to the cost of hay. It was not a good year for hay out here with the droughts. I will see if it is possible to add more alfalfa.
                                So I would wonder if the weight loss was from hay being skimped as it got more expensive.

                                Feeding a big horse a lot is sort of expected. And nothing about turning 20 makes a horse suddenly "lose weight." So my question wouldn't be how much you should be feeding as much as WHY did the horse start losing weight?

                                Cushings - definitely a possibility.

                                But I'd be putting my money on the fact that the horse wasn't getting fed enough. So, increasing hay might be all you really need to do to get him back to where he was/should be.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Sounds like you solved your problem.
                                  That said, IMHO oil is messy to deal with.
                                  Has to be stored cool, makes messy feed pans, etc.

                                  I had an 18yo WB who came out of Winter looking ribby.
                                  I had great success adding Nutrena Empower Boost - 20% fat from rice bran - to his regular grain ration of whole oats.
                                  Fed grain 2X daily ~4# per feed.
                                  3 cups Boost suggested to add to feed on the bag, I added a cup to each feed: AM & PM, so not the whole suggested ration, but it worked.
                                  About $30/50# bag at my local feedstore & bag lasted about a month. 2 bags later he was back in good weight.
                                  The following Fall I started the Boost again & fed through Winter. He did not lose weight that year.
                                  *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
                                  Steppin' Out 1988-2004
                                  Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
                                  Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015

                                  Comment

                                  • Original Poster

                                    #18
                                    S1969 I agree with you on that he just wasn't getting enough hay. Him being 20yo is just... scary for me. I know it isn't that old, but I've never had one at this age so my over worrying brain thinks "he's getting old, we're going to start having issues". There were times I'd be at the barn earlier in the winter and he wouldn't have any hay in his stall and with the grass getting frozen over he wasn't getting anything out of grazing either. As stated in my update there is now a feeder so he can always have hay during turn out. He always has hay in his stall and all the horses have gotten their rations upped. It has been a colder earlier than normal winter! Having access 24/7 seemed to definitely be the turning point of gaining back weight.

                                    Oil wasn't too messy for my guy. He is a licker and licks his buckets dry. I'm going to taper off of it and see if he does fine with just the increased hay and I think he will. I'm just glad he is looking good and feeling good. If things go backwards and he loses weight again I will have a vet out, but I do think that the hay was the major factor.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by rockonxox View Post
                                      S1969 I agree with you on that he just wasn't getting enough hay. Him being 20yo is just... scary for me. I know it isn't that old, but I've never had one at this age so my over worrying brain thinks "he's getting old, we're going to start having issues".
                                      My TB mare turns 23 next week and she's still looking awesome (she's a retired OTTB/ex-broodmare with little riding) but she's put in her time so she is retired. I think it's better not to focus on age and just focus on the horse in front of you. If everything stays the same and they look good....stick with it. But reducing hay is definitely not good for an horse, regardless of age. Sounds like you're back on track now.

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