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Hay Replacement (hopefully temporary)

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  • Hay Replacement (hopefully temporary)

    My horse is coughing horribly.
    He has been thoroughly examined, including BAL, xrays, and scoping. The diagnosis is Inflammatory Airway Disease. We are working on the right meds to get it under control.

    One thing I want to try is eliminating hay, at least temporarily.
    I tried soaking or wetting his hay and he will NOT eat it, despite the fact that he dunks his hay while eating.

    I bought some hay cubes and offered one bucket of dry and one bucket soaked. He doesn't want to eat them. He walked away from them and let the pony and donkey eat them. So I locked the pony and donkey in and he reluctantly finished them overnight. I can't lock coughing horse up because he needs to be outside as much as possible. And its not really fair to lock the pony and donkey up for long stretches to force coughing horse to eat the cubes.

    What would you try next?
    Complete feed? Hay stretcher? Bagged hay? Chopped hay?

    PS - I sincerely hope I am done single-handedly supporting the veterinary community in Northeast Ohio soon. In addition to "coughing horse", I had "anaphylactic reaction donkey" last month, and now I have "painful lump on jaw dog", who goes in this morning; anticipating x-ray$.

  • #2
    Maybe temporary electric until he gets used to the idea of hay cubes? Welcome to the VRF club (veterinary retirement fund).


    • #3
      If you have a little molasses in the kitchen try the soaked hay, or hay cubes or hay pellets with the molasses drizzled over the top. Something to sweeten the pot so to speak and give them the idea to munch. Phase it out over a few days if they get the idea and start munching. The easiest way to so that is start cutting it with water.

      Sometimes Jello's work too. Had a horse that was fond of cherry Jello powdered on his feed.


      • #4
        My horses have always loved the Dengie Hi-Fi bagged hay. It's pretty much dust free. Good luck.
        Producing horses with gentle minds & brilliant movement!


        • #5
          Triple Crown Sr is a complete feed and can be fed in place of hay. It's Beet Pulp based and can even be soaked to slush if he'll eat it that way.


          • Original Poster

            Originally posted by Paddys Mom View Post

            PS - I sincerely hope I am done single-handedly supporting the veterinary community in Northeast Ohio soon. In addition to "coughing horse", I had "anaphylactic reaction donkey" last month, and now I have "painful lump on jaw dog", who goes in this morning; anticipating x-ray$.
            Dog has a cracked tooth. Antibiotics followed by an extraction.


            • #7
              Interested in this thread also as my mare coughs spring to fall and I'm trying to prevent it from getting worse. Allergy test showed shes mainly allergic to deer flys and molds. Vet says to try the allergic shots but at $230 to start for 5-7months and on top of that I need to have her hocks injected asap (another $300) I think I'm going to try to manage it this year and do allergy shots next year if I need to.

              My vet told me to keep my mare in during the day and to stay in front of the fan during those times. I'm also going to switch her to something other than hay starting early spring but not sure what is best.

              I've been using smartbreath from smartpak also and it does seem to help some.


              • #8
                OP no fun especially this time of year to have lots of vet bills - hope things settle down.

                Probably not for OP, but my pony has a cough every year spring and fall. What help is as soon as she starts with dry cough I give her Cough Free. Best anyone can figure her timing is around the farmers harvesting crops. Cough Free has ginger in it and helps her every time.


                • #9
                  All I have to offer is to second the complete feed (soaked) idea.
                  I'm having to feed this as well, instead of hay, due to gastric impaction. Like you I'm hoping it's temporary.
                  "Single-handedly supporting the veterinary community" is tiresome isn't it?


                  • Original Poster

                    The horse's issues seem to stem from suspect Shavings.
                    It is a deep wet cough.
                    Diagnostics showed no infection.
                    Steroids have not helped.
                    ventipulmin and banamine seemed to help initially.
                    Waiting on a callback from the vet.
                    I want to try more ventipulmin and some Dex.
                    Back to the feed store.

                    Oh he will not eat any soaked food.


                    • #11
                      Will he eat hay pellets? My Arab likes hay pellets, but not hay cubes. I haven't a clue why. He gets hay pellets at endurance rides because he can eat more of them faster than he can eat actual hay and loves them.

                      Alternatively, go for a senior feed that is designed to replace hay entirely for older horses who can't eat it. That can get expensive though because you're supposed to feed a lot of it.

                      We used to feed something called Safe Starch - I think it was made by Triple Crown. It was a chopped hay kind of thing that, in theory, could be fed as a complete feed. We didn't feed it alone, but used it as a supplement for a couple of the horses who wouldn't eat enough hay on their own. I don't remember it being dusty, it was almost damp due to whatever they put on it.


                      • Original Poster

                        I have fed him alfalfa pellets in the past and he does like them, but I want him to have long-stem fibers not provided by the pellets.

                        I am having some success with the hay cubes!
                        • I put them in two buckets in the corner of his stall so it is easier for him to keep the pony out. I had been putting them in a small trough but the pony would grab the trough and drag it to where he could reach it too. There is a reason the pony's name is Loki.

                          I mixed his grain in.

                          I gave the pony and donkey only hay cubes too. This way, coughing horse does not abandon his cubes to eat their hay.

                        The best news is that I heard no coughing last night and so far none today.


                        • #13
                          If he likes to dunk his hay anyway, can you try putting a new/clean muck tub in, and filling it with hay and water? Instead of just soaking the hay and giving him the wet, drained hay, maybe he will like it better if you give him the whole darned tub full of water and hay.

                          Also you could try flavoring the water with molasses or dry gatorade powder. Or Horse Quencher.

                          Another thing I've done is sprinkle oats into the submsersed hay/water in the tub.

                          I owned a mare for 10 years with chronic lung inflammation and infections. NOT fun but we did finally get it under control.


                          • #14
                            I know you said soaked food isn't his favorite, but have you tried beet pulp? That's an excellent hay substitute and you could add some flavoring or grain to make it more attractive.

                            Right now my horse isn't crazy about the hay we have and so I've increased his beet pulp to make up the difference in his forage consumption.
                            Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
                            EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.


                            • #15
                              Whatever you try feed-wise, give it at least 3 weeks to determine whether or not it's helping. My vet has said it can take that long once 'flared' for things to return to 'normal'. Be sure to only change one thing at a time so you know what helps.

                              I had to switch my horse to hay cubes. No amount of soaking baled hay once it was 3+ mos old would help her. She also needs a low sugar diet. Luckily she LOVES her Ontario Dehydrated Balanced cubes.


                              • #16
                                Hay is hay. If they are allergic to a type of hay, stretchers/bagged/cubes will not make a difference. Try totally different kind of hay, or straight soaked beet pulp. We did lock up a few to make them eat, and no more coughing, even after removing all meds.


                                • Original Poster

                                  He won't eat anything soaked, not even beet pulp. He wants to wet it himself.

                                  Originally posted by Fairview Horse Center View Post
                                  Hay is hay. If they are allergic to a type of hay, stretchers/bagged/cubes will not make a difference. Try totally different kind of hay, or straight soaked beet pulp. We did lock up a few to make them eat, and no more coughing, even after removing all meds.
                                  I was assuming that he is not allergic to the hay, just that the hay is dusty enough to aggravate his already inflammed airway.

                                  I have only heard one bout of coughing today, which is an improvement, so I will continue on the hay cube$ for a while. I think then I will try the hay again and if he starts coughing again, it would be allergy testing time.

                                  It seems unlikely that the hay was the initial trigger because I bought over 200 bales of this hay at once this spring and he has been eating it since June without issue.


                                  • #18
                                    With soaked beet pulp, I have found it is a learning process to get them to eat it. I begin with a handful - handfeeding as a treat type thing, maybe mixing in carrots, molassas, etc. Once they are eating that, I begin to put it in a small bucket I am holding, again as a treat. After a few weeks of this daily, they have learned to like it, and I can increase it, but you definitely have to withhold all hay once you begin to leave it for them as night roughage. Leave a pound, then 2, then more. If you are not comfortable with them dropping a bit of weight it won't work.

                                    Definitely don't soalk more than about 15 minutes, and experiment with how sloppy you are making it too. Some prefer a bit dryer, some very soupy.

                                    It is worth it for their long term health.

                                    We also found that sometimes they may be allergic to grass hay, but not at all to alfalfa.

                                    Allergic reactions to things can develop over time.


                                    • #19
                                      For coughing, you may want to start giving your horse MSM. It's a respiratory aid as well as a joint supplement. Also good for hooves and coat.


                                      • #20
                                        Lucerne Farms Dengie. Get a bag of each flavor and see what he likes. One of our horses coughed for 4 months despite $1,500 of meds and vet care. After 3 days of Dengie, the cough was gone, and stayed gone for 2 years. Now we know he can eat certain grass hay, but it was Dengie only for 2 years.