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Re: [RC] senior feeds - heidi

I have heard others say this and it makes me wonder a bit.
[>>>Be careful about feeding "senior" rations to older horses you're
trying to keep weight on.]

Chip's comment was to the effect that Senior feeds are designed as
"complete feeds" and hence not designed to be fed with hay.

Bottom line--hay is ALSO a "complete feed" and so feeding a ration that is
part Senior and part hay shouldn't pose a problem for most horses.  The
two biggest problems I see in older horses that don't maintain weight on a
combined ration is that either the hay is poor quality or they don't have
adequate dentition to handle the hay.  Hay should be the first and
foremost consideration in ANY ration--and even if it costs more to buy the
best hay possible, it is the best "health care" money you can possibly
spend for your horse.  That said--if a horse does not have sufficient
dentition to properly CHEW the hay, then you are throwing the money down a
rat hole.  If a dentist can fix the dentition, then that is what needs to
be done.  If the dentition is beyond being fixed, then other ration
solutions need to be considered--and Senior feed is often sufficient "fix"
for minor problems.

I've maintained a great many "seniors" over the years in good flesh on hay
with added Equine Senior.  I've also had some that simply didn't have the
teeth to handle the hay--and the options are to either feed Senior as a
complete diet (I'm not keen on that one, personally, but sometimes it is
the only option with picky eaters) or use some other forage substitute to
make up for the inability to eat hay.  The combo that has worked best for
me for my occasional "toothless" guys is part beet pulp, part alfalfa
pellets, and part Equine Senior.  I have one stallion here who has lived
on that combo for 2-1/2 years now (he's rising 26) and I actually have had
to cut his feed back, as he is about a 5.5 to 6 body score.  (He got
absolutely skeletal before I started him on this.)  He still gets a tiny
flake of hay twice a day, most of which he quids and spits out, but it
gives him something to do.  We have five other "senior" stallions (ranging
from 22 to 29), all of which get along just fine on good hay plus some
Equine Senior, but all of which tend to get just a tad thin in winter and
in breeding season if they don't get their Senior.  Amount of Senior
varies from less than 1 lb per day (the oldest, actually--but he still has
virtually perfect teeth) up to 4 lbs per day for one whose teeth are
beginning to get a bit "iffy" even with good maintenance, but he still
handles hay fairly well.  (The latter got pretty tough during breeding
season this year, but he is also a fretter whenever anyone else is
breeding or teasing, but he is back up to a body score of 5+ now.)

My suggestion for an older horse that does not do well on GOOD hay and
some added Senior is to look for other problems...  (Starting with teeth.)



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[RC] senior feeds, Alice Yovich