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Weight gain for the senior TB

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  • Weight gain for the senior TB

    Horse is utd on worming and teeth! Not a likely ulcer candidate as he has free choice forage and a low stress (retired) lifestyle.
    Now back to regularly scheduled programming.

    I have a 20 year old TB who has been steadily been requiring more grain over the past few months to keep his weight up. I've been attributing this to the lack of grazing over the summer and fall. He is a big grass eater and would rather nibble at overgrazed pasture and weeds than eat hay (good 2nd cutting orchard grass that everyone else loves).

    He is on free choice hay, and will probably eat about 10# in his stall and maybe another 2-3 flakes outside during the day (4-6#), but mostly nibbles at overgrazed pasture.
    Grain is currently about 5.5# of TC Senior a day. While that may not seem like a lot for your average hard keeping TB, this horse used to be on 2.5# of Senior and look fat.

    The only forage I can trust he will clean up is Standlee's compressed alfalfa bales from TSC. But @ almost $20 a bale for a 50# bale, it is expensive, so he only gets 1 flake a night. I've been trying to find some good alfalfa in my area, but no one is getting back to me, and I don't have time to go to my local hay auction...because it is an hour away.

    He also gets 1 cup of flax.

    I was thinking about adding Platinum or Smartpak's equivalent, thinking he may be missing some vits/minerals he was getting from good quality grass, that he isn't getting from hay. Can vitamin e deficiency cause weight loss?

    My other option is buying some alfalfa cubes, soaking a 3 quart scoop and adding some oil to that, but I'm not sure when I would feed that to him, after dinner maybe?

    He looks fine, some topline loss, a little ribby, but he just doesn't have that really nice beefy look he used to have. I've been struggling with this all summer, with time where he would look better, then drop a little weight (of course I could also be imagining things).

    I have access to Purina, Nutrena, Pennfields, Triple Crown, McCualey's, Dumor, and who knows what else, so I can probably find a specific product.

    I was thinking about Amplify as well.

    Any opinions?
    come what may

    Rest in peace great mare, 1987-2013

  • #2
    When we had an oldie, during his 27-38 years time period, we fed him soaked Equine Senior. I know Purina is not a recommended feed any more but it did that boy good. He kept his weight like a champ. His top line sank a little when he retired (at 34) but no ribs. You could also serve soaked alfalfa pellets and oil along with his TC. Maybe soak the TC? I think they absorb more from soaked stuff than dry but maybe I'm dreaming.
    Proud and achy member of the Eventing Grannies clique.

    Comment


    • #3
      Before messing around with all that junk, I'd just pull a blood panel and see what's going on. Could be he's got the beginnings of Cushings or something.

      I have a TB mare who constantly could use some weight, but she's growing, active, and is prone to ulcers.

      Your guy however, is a previously easy keeper, and his swap to almost hard keeping started up just recently. That makes me think less "he's not getting enough calories" and more "why is his past diet no longer working for him?" You said teeth were good, but it might not hurt to have them checked again, could be a sharp point somewhere. And then I'd pull blood. If the blood comes back completely normal, THEN I'd consider ways to add additional calories, and look at his management. (Maybe he needs a blanket on chilly nights? etc)

      Comment


      • #4
        I'm a huge fan of Nutrena's Empower Boost. It keeps weight on my hard-keeper 17h TB with only 2lbs a day, which is why I love it. I've taken him off of it at various times (e.g. he was at the hospital for an extended period and I couldn't get him his grain), and he lost copious amounts of weight. I put him back on it, he gained it all right back.

        Comment


        • #5
          I agree with Goforagallop. I would check for Cushions. My old guy has always been a hard keeper but before I knew he had cushings he was eating a lot even fo rhim and not gaining any wieght. He was ribby and had a very dull coat. This was also during the summer months so to me that was alarming as usually in the summer he would put wieght on. My guy actually did not test positive for cushings but he had the symptoms so we put him on the medicine and he got better.

          If it is not cushings, I would try fibergize which is good for older horses (easy to digest and has soybean oil in it) or even pelleted rice bran (empower)

          Comment

          • Original Poster

            #6
            His diet has changed over the past 4-5 months though. Last year at this time he had access to great pasture and was eating it all day, everyday. This year, mostly hay, little bits of grass. I believe he is consuming significantly less calories because of this. He just has never been a great hay eater until winter, when there is absolutely no grass available.

            What are typical cushings symptoms? This guy has a good coat, growing in for winter so he's fluffy , but doesn't grow a long coat, just very dense. He is shiny (when he hasn't taken a dust bath), and sheds out earlier than my QH in the spring. I think he was starting in January last year.

            I may get the dentist out again (she said every other year and he was done last year), to check him. But he isn't dropping food.

            His Senior is currently soaked, not for any particular reason as his teeth are fine.

            I'll check out the Empower Boost.

            Any idea of calorie content of Fibergized vs TC Senior? I was talking to a feed rep at Agway that said TC Senior is superior to Fibergized as far as ingredient quality and what not, but they sell TC and not Pennfield, so I would think they are biased.
            come what may

            Rest in peace great mare, 1987-2013

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              I know it is difficult to judge weight/condition based on photos, especially 1 photo, but here is something recent of him, just to get an idea of his weight/condition.

              Photo

              As you can see, he isn't really ribby at this point, and his topline doesn't look too bad. Most of these changes are subtle.
              come what may

              Rest in peace great mare, 1987-2013

              Comment


              • #8
                Horses with Cushing's disease have either a coarse, dull or wavy coat that often does not to shed out in the summer. They can have excessive thirst, combined with excessive urination. They can have a pot-bellied appearance, combined with a loss of muscle on the topline. They are also more susceptible to other diseases because their immune system has been compromised.

                My horse had lost weight, had a dull coat, had a fungus that I could not get rid of in multiple places on him and even though he was ribby he had a pot-belly. He also had loss of muscle....he is a horse that builds muscle quickly and even though he was in work he had lost his top line.

                If your horse does not have these symptoms, then you may be right...it might just be loss of weight from lack of pasture. In that case I would put him on rice bran or oil or a higher fat feed. I personally don't like senior feeds so I don't feed them. I have had really good luck with Empower rice bran, Fibergize, adding oil and also adding triple crown forage. Good luck.

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Originally posted by touchadream View Post
                  Horses with Cushing's disease have either a coarse, dull or wavy coat that often does not to shed out in the summer. They can have excessive thirst, combined with excessive urination. They can have a pot-bellied appearance, combined with a loss of muscle on the topline. They are also more susceptible to other diseases because their immune system has been compromised.

                  My horse had lost weight, had a dull coat, had a fungus that I could not get rid of in multiple places on him and even though he was ribby he had a pot-belly. He also had loss of muscle....he is a horse that builds muscle quickly and even though he was in work he had lost his top line.

                  If your horse does not have these symptoms, then you may be right...it might just be loss of weight from lack of pasture. In that case I would put him on rice bran or oil or a higher fat feed. I personally don't like senior feeds so I don't feed them. I have had really good luck with Empower rice bran, Fibergize, adding oil and also adding triple crown forage. Good luck.
                  No to the wavy, long coat, although his mane and tail do have a bit of a wave, I assumed that was normal for him though. He is a good drinker but isn't draining buckets a day, peeing normally (as far as I can tell), no hay belly at all, a little topline loss, but he is 20 and out of work, so I guess that isn't too surprising, otherwise I don't see a ton of muscle loss on him. However, he has had lymphangitis since I got him, he flares up once a year around the same time, and does get fungus on his legs easily, but not other body parts.
                  I suppose it wouldn't hurt to get him tested for Cushings, he doesn't have major symptoms, but who knows.

                  I may add some oil and a feeding of alfalfa cubes, and go from there.

                  Thanks!
                  come what may

                  Rest in peace great mare, 1987-2013

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    As long as he is actually eating the feed you give him I would try a prebiotic and probiotic to see if you can help him better utilize his feed.
                    McDowell Racing Stables

                    Home Away From Home

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by SAcres View Post
                      His diet has changed over the past 4-5 months though. Last year at this time he had access to great pasture and was eating it all day, everyday. This year, mostly hay, little bits of grass. I believe he is consuming significantly less calories because of this.

                      I may get the dentist out again (she said every other year and he was done last year), to check him. But he isn't dropping food.
                      If you really just feel like he's getting less food, just start drizzling some oil on his feed...that will up the calories in the most efficient way.

                      Do keep in mind that some of the oldies need to be done yearly for the teeth...sounds like that's not the case for your guy, but you never know.

                      Originally posted by touchadream View Post
                      Horses with Cushing's disease have either a coarse, dull or wavy coat that often does not to shed out in the summer.
                      Just an FYI that not all horses with Cushing's get the coat, at least not right off the bat. My mare's ACTH levels were off the chart, but her coat, while thick, always sheds out well and she's slick and shiny.

                      The blood test through my vet was like $20, worth it for the peace of mind as well as a general blood panel to just see if something is up with liver/kidneys/etc.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        If in the end what you need or are looking for is some extra calories (ruling out the Cushings, etc), I highly recommend the Triple Crown Omega Plus. It's a high fat extruded nugget-- 24% fat. You only need to add about a cup per feeding. I used to use the Buckeye Ultimate Finish , but when TC came out with the Omega Plus, I switched. Virtually same product but less expensive. I have also used the Pennfield Fibergized with good results, so I second (third, fourth?) whoever originally mentioned it.
                        Last edited by Real Rush; Oct. 16, 2012, 11:46 AM. Reason: corrected product name

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          As my girl has gotten older, she's turned into a hard keeper in the winter while staying an easy keeper in the summer.

                          Last year I had great luck putting weight on in the dead of winter with 5-6# TC Senior, 2-3# alfalfa pellets, and 1-2# rice bran pellets (per day). Also don't underestimate blanketing in the winter for the oldies. A blanket will keep him from burning so many calories to stay warm.
                          Caitlin
                          *OMGiH I Loff my Mare* and *My Saddlebred Can Do Anything Your Horse Can Do*
                          http://community.webshots.com/user/redmare01

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I also really like Empower Boost. My mare gets about a cup right now as I'm easing her back into it. I've never had to feed her too much of it, just add a bit to give her some extra fat and vitamins. In the winter when she's a harder keeper she gets beet pulp, safe choice, empower (about 2 cups or a bit less), and her smartpak. The soaked beet pulp might do him some good too!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              My guy is looking fantastic. He is 21 this year. My BO has him on equine senior. I thinks 3 scoops a day (maybe a bit more than I would like, but it works). 1 in the am before he goes out cause he eats so slow and 2 in the pm so he can eat it all night. She also give him beet pulp I think every other day, but not positive. He is also on cool calories which made a huge difference for him. Being not in control of his diet I was worried that he wasn't going to maintain or gain a little which he needed to do after the long hot summer in FL before he moved to her. She has managed him great and told me he is getting FAT, so she is watching his weight now! Yay!



                              Two recent shots of him:

                              Him in April this year(excuse the lead rope. I just dropped it so I could take a quick photo):
                              https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?f...3&l=8f8c979ef3

                              August:
                              https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?f...3&l=d25f46fe31

                              She doesn't feed him as much hay as I did, but he has access to some decent pasture a few times a week in the summer and the beet pulp which I could never get him to eat.

                              So maybe try beet pulp and think about adding oil or cool calories. My guy doesn't really love oil, so cool calories it was. He has always been a hard keeper. He actually eats less now that he is pretty much retired which makes sense than he did when he was my show horse. I am just glad she keeps him looking so good.
                              I love cats, I love every single cat....
                              So anyway I am a cat lover
                              And I love to run.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                My 17 year old TB mare is very similar - she will eat very little hay until she is sure the last of the pasture is gone. She hopes every night that it has miraculously grown back, but still eats minimal hay for now. I treated her for ulcers a few years back in the fall thinking her miserable behavior was ulcer related, but we decided it was probably hunger.

                                And, being a typical TB, she has a high calorie requirement. I am not exaggerating when I say she could eat a 40lb bale of hay in the winter without adding weight.

                                I agree about blanketing to make sure they don't burn calories keeping warm.

                                I like Triple Crown Senior, and would add to that soaked beet pulp, BOSS, and/or oil to add more calories for my first choices. I recently fed Empower Boost to my small rescue pony and found out the hard way that it is quite high in NSC (25%), so if you suspect Cushings, I might avoid it. (In my case my little pony had an ACTH off the charts and I think the Boost was one of a few things that pushed him into full blown founder before we discovered the Cushings).

                                (And I don't think your horse has any obvious signs of Cushings - loss of topline/muscle, sheds poorly, sweats easily, fatty deposits over eyes, frequent laminitis....my pony had them all).

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I had a pretty serious meal plan going for my old guy before I lost him - his teeth were in pretty bad shape, and while he'd mush grass around all day, he really wasn't getting enough out of it to keep him in good weight.

                                  TC Senior (mostly for fiber)
                                  Buckeye Grow N Win (my former BO had everyone on it or a very similiar ration balancer, and since he wasn't getting the max quantity of the TC Senior, it was a good way to ensure he was getting all of his vitamins/minerals etc.)
                                  Buckeye Ultimate Finish - cheaper and easier to deal with (in my experience) than oil

                                  (That was for breakfast and dinner - soaked heavily)

                                  He also got 2# of soaked alfalfa pellets at bedtime/night check and I started him on straight alfalfa chopped forage - he preferred the Alfa Supreme from Lucerne Farms: http://lucernefarms.com/feeds_forage.shtml (we tried the TC stuff, but he had a strong preference for the Lucerne Farms). It's not cheap, but much easier than soaking alfalfa cubes and at his age, if he ate it and liked it, it was worth the $$ to me.

                                  Also blanketed him when it was cold (so we could keep those calories in his body, rather than shivering them off), and would suggest that you have his teeth checked again - if it's been a year, he could have one that's broken or loose that makes it uncomfortable for him to eat normally, even if he looks like he's handling things OK (BTDT).

                                  Good luck!

                                  Comment

                                  • Original Poster

                                    #18
                                    Thanks everyone, I think I'll pick up a bag of Empower Boost next time I'm at Tractor Supply. I'd like to avoid oil if I can because I'm not the only one that feeds and I know oil can be messy.

                                    I do have beet pulp on hand for another senior, but I think the calorie content is higher in TC Senior than the beet pulp? Not sure why I would start feeding it, due to that.

                                    I like the suggestions though!

                                    He really doesn't look "bad" just not "blooming".
                                    come what may

                                    Rest in peace great mare, 1987-2013

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Seniors, and senior TB's especially are notorious protein burners. If he's ignoring the hay I'd switch him to alfalfa. TC Senior is about as good a feed as you can get. I am also a fan of calf manna, as it also has whey protein, and fenugreek which stimulates appetite. I use it frequently when my picky TB decides he doesn't like his feed any more. Nothing wrong with adding fat (as long as you pick one that isn't too high in omega 6's) but IMHO protein is where I'd start.

                                      FWIW, my senior TB will only eat so much (hay/grain), so I have to make sure I can cram sufficient calories into whatever that amount is. It can be a challenge. Fat pony is just the opposite....I try to make her measly calorie count last as much as possible!

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by SAcres View Post
                                        Thanks everyone, I think I'll pick up a bag of Empower Boost next time I'm at Tractor Supply. I'd like to avoid oil if I can because I'm not the only one that feeds and I know oil can be messy.

                                        I do have beet pulp on hand for another senior, but I think the calorie content is higher in TC Senior than the beet pulp? Not sure why I would start feeding it, due to that.

                                        I like the suggestions though!

                                        He really doesn't look "bad" just not "blooming".
                                        Beet pulp adds extra calories without the sugars.
                                        I love cats, I love every single cat....
                                        So anyway I am a cat lover
                                        And I love to run.

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