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View Full Version : What to do with an elderly horse who won't eat hay/haylage..



JackDaniels1
04-09-12, 11:37 AM
Horse currently lives out 24/7 and seems happy with this, doesn't really like stabling but i am trying to get him used to it as i think he will need to be stabled overnight in winter to keep condition on. He is in his late twenties, i am currently bringing him in for 1-2 hours a day with his buddy in the stable next door. I try and make the stable as nice as possible for him, i went out especially to buy small bales of yummy haylage for him so he has a large bucket of haylage put in alongside another bucket of hay. He doesn't touch either. He also has two yummy licks which he doesn't touch. Along with feed/carrots/apples etc which he does eat when he first comes in, running back and forth to the door.

I just don't know what to do with him, he is old and shows his age so i really need to get as much forage down him as poss. When i put it out in the field for him, he takes half a mouthful and wonders off....

His teeth have been checked, he does have difficulty eating but dentist has been out.

I worry when the grass stops growing.....!

ihatework
04-09-12, 11:40 AM
The very lucky and spoilt 34yo pony on full livery where I stable gets big buckets of just grass and there food well soaked into a mush.

Plenty of suitable fibre options on the market now for the oldies - why not try soaked grass pellets or fast fibre

touchstone
04-09-12, 11:41 AM
There are hay replacers you can try; fast fibre, sugar beet, chaff, readymash, etc. Personally I'd be leaving him with a big bucket of fibre replacer as well as his haylage and see if he will eat that. :)

Eat, Drink, Be Merry
04-09-12, 11:41 AM
I would try Fast Fibre or a similar high fibre cube that can be fed soaked, he could have as much as he wanted with some extras added as required. He probably finds chewing long fibre more hard work than eating grass, my oldie only eats small amounts of hay/ haylage depending on his mood and has FF to ensure he gets plenty of fibre.

Archiepoo
04-09-12, 11:43 AM
have a look here http://www.veteran-horse-welfare.co.uk/preparing_for_winter.html theres loads of good advice for oldies:)

Oberon
04-09-12, 11:43 AM
How are his teeth?

My old boy's teeth aren't great so I give him 'a haynet in a bucket' with Fast Fibre, Spiller's High Fibre Cubes, unmolassed beet (if needed in winter).

I also give old fashioned unmolassed hay chaff in a separate bucket in winter for him to browse on as well as his haylage.

Other options are Ready Mash, Solution Mash (expensive but good).

He will need supplementing vitamin E if he is not getting enough forage.

Micronised linseed has the same omega oils as grass (so the magic of Dr Green all year round).

I also feed my old boy Pro Balance + to give him the minerals and amino acids he needs.

I have been feeding by the field gate for most of the summer.

stencilface
04-09-12, 11:47 AM
TBH I wouldn't be putting him in if he's not happy doing that, it won't keep condition on him if he is at all stressed and won't eat hay/haylage anyway. Plus its good for oldies to keep moving. I would bring him in for a feed of high fibre foods as often as possible. We kept a very elderly pony going very happlily like this for years - he did even better when we had the time to give him lunch as well as breakfast and dinner - he never ate hay.

If you don't have enough grass for 24/7 turnout in the winter, can you get more so he has the option of standing hay?

JackDaniels1
04-09-12, 11:48 AM
Would you start giving a hard feed ie, fast fibre now before winter sets in? so he doesn't suddenly drop weight when the grass slows down...

What would you put in the FF? chaff?

JackDaniels1
04-09-12, 11:52 AM
TBH I wouldn't be putting him in if he's not happy doing that, it won't keep condition on him if he is at all stressed and won't eat hay/haylage anyway. Plus its good for oldies to keep moving. I would bring him in for a feed of high fibre foods as often as possible. We kept a very elderly pony going very happlily like this for years - he did even better when we had the time to give him lunch as well as breakfast and dinner - he never ate hay.

If you don't have enough grass for 24/7 turnout in the winter, can you get more so he has the option of standing hay?

He has been living out 24/7 for the last few years even in winter/snow etc and he always looks like a hat rack! despite tons of forage/2-3 feeds a day so i thought this winter i would try him in overnight to try and maintain condition? i assumed he would get use to the idea of coming in hence me trying to make it as nice as possible for him? You have made me think whether he would be better being out in winter?

I can see him now, he is stood with his bum to the door not eating :-(

touchstone
04-09-12, 11:54 AM
If his condition isn't as it should be then I'd start feeding FF now, it doesn't have to have chaff added if you don't want to as it is a complete feed, but chaff will bulk it out more.

I'd also keep him out, but well rugged as soon as the weather changes and bring him in for his feed.

stencilface
04-09-12, 11:57 AM
You know your horse better than I do though :)

Maybe being in he will do better, and get to enjoy snuggling down on a cold winters night, you can only give it a try if being out 24/7 is not working. That said, I wouldn't worry too much if horse is a bit bonier than you'd want coming out of winter, its not a crime to be a bit under if they are otherwise happy and healthy imho, its tricky with oldies, esp if they won't eat hay! Not sure what your winters have been like either, but the last few near me have been very harsh and we have had to feed lots more hay than usual due to snow covering the ground for weeks on end, something else that potentially wasn't helping you the last few years? :)

Mister Ted
04-09-12, 12:00 PM
Had the same prob. Front teeth worn right down.Started cutting up and soaking hay.Mouth ulcer didnt help.,but was holding weight well with soaked Simple systems grass nuts,A&P Fast Fibre.Autumn came and like you was dreading it .The Veteran horse website has a made up mushy recipe which can be put in the field to eat overnight.But Icouldnt resolve the issue of thefood freezing and others getting at it.The year before he was on lovely SOFT hay from the farmer (sheeps hay) which he had no problem with and loved it.But not always to get hold of.Sadly we had run out of options eventually and had to say goodbye.

JackDaniels1
04-09-12, 12:01 PM
You know your horse better than I do though :)

Maybe being in he will do better, and get to enjoy snuggling down on a cold winters night, you can only give it a try if being out 24/7 is not working. That said, I wouldn't worry too much if horse is a bit bonier than you'd want coming out of winter, its not a crime to be a bit under if they are otherwise happy and healthy imho, its tricky with oldies, esp if they won't eat hay! Not sure what your winters have been like either, but the last few near me have been very harsh and we have had to feed lots more hay than usual due to snow covering the ground for weeks on end, something else that potentially wasn't helping you the last few years? :)

That is true! It's also tricky as he loves grazing with his buddy but as he is soooo slow at eating, buddy gets most of the hay! Atleast with him in at night, he would obviously have his own food supply! and plenty of it! :p

Will try and get piccy!

Oberon
04-09-12, 12:10 PM
Would you start giving a hard feed ie, fast fibre now before winter sets in? so he doesn't suddenly drop weight when the grass slows down...

What would you put in the FF? chaff?

Feed him now.

Fast Fibre is basically straw and unmolassed beet that soaks in a minute to a mushy consistency (you can have dry or really sloppy to their taste).

It is fibre - so you can feed it on it's own. I mix it with high fibre nuts for taste.

Speedibeet is another choice or addition.

Both are fibres that are fermented into usable energy in the hind gut - which is 50% of their calorie yield.

stencilface
04-09-12, 12:14 PM
We used to feed our old pony on high fibre cubes and stud cubes soaked to a porridge with some chaff (could have been alfa a - was 10 years ago now!) and vegetable oil, that was the combination he did best on at the time, but perhaps things have moved on since then :)

meandmyself
04-09-12, 12:15 PM
Might be worth having the vet pull bloods just to check if there's anything going on. I'd cut back on the treats (apples/carrots) when he first comes in and let him fill his belly on his hay/SB/chaff. I'd also think about adding some oil to his diet- it's high in calories so will help keep the weight on.

I'd also think about having the dentist back out just to check.

budley95
04-09-12, 12:34 PM
Try allen and page's fast fibre - can be used as a total hay replacement. When my boy bit thorugh his tongue he struggled to eat hay but managed fast fibre fine - 32 year old pony that was at our yard managed it when he lost all his teeth! If it's just him being fussy you could always add some spearmint to it?

Sukistokes2
04-09-12, 12:54 PM
Fast fibre and calm and conditioner. My old girl only has two teeth and does well. There is quite a range of these soaking foods.

whisp&willow
04-09-12, 01:02 PM
Fast fibre and veteran vitality with speedi/sugar beet.

My 40 yr old can not break up and process grass, hay or haylage properly anymore.

she has made a huge improvement on these feeds. she is out 24/7- i feel it is better for her old bones to me constantly mobile- and gets 1.5 kg fast fibe, and 1.5kg veteran vitality split over two feeds with a big scoop of beet in each feed.

she looks amazing now and i am so pleased as i know she will do fine through the winter too. i can send you pics if you would like to see. ;)

i cannot reccomend this feed highly enough. it has literally saved my old pony's life.

x

OWLIE185
04-09-12, 01:10 PM
I would definately keep her out even if it means thickly rugging her up and feeding her several times a day. I would also get the vet to thoroughly check her out including taking bloods.

Cocorules
04-09-12, 05:12 PM
I would also suggest you keep him out as he will stay warmer if he can move when he wants. The mental side is important too for a horse who prefers to be out.

Highlands
04-09-12, 05:17 PM
Rowan burbarrys ready mash extra

plod485
25-12-13, 01:16 AM
Sometimes when they get old their teeth are so smooth from having them done that they find it hard to eat course long fibres. He may be able to eat chopped hay as the fibres are shorter, or possibly carrots.

Spring Feather
25-12-13, 01:41 AM
I have quite a few very old horses living on my farm here. They all have varying degrees of teeth condition, some barely have any working teeth left and are fine with grass but can't eat hay, the others do okay on hay. The ones who don't have teeth are fed numerous times a day with hay replacer, vitamin enriched sloppy feeds and most of them hold their weight well during the winter (even in our scary cold winters!). It is time consuming keeping these very old horses that's for sure but I believe it's worth it. All of the old guys here live out 24/7/365. They are rugged up well and all have big barns to go in if they wish but they're like the rest of the horses here in that they still prefer to be outside even with feet of snow on the ground and in blizzards. They are happy living like this as all of them have lived out most of their lives so I'd not consider changing that at this stage in their lives.

Auslander
25-12-13, 10:55 AM
Hopefully she's sorted now, seeing as this thread is over a year old!

Marydoll
25-12-13, 12:38 PM
The very lucky and spoilt 34yo pony on full livery where I stable gets big buckets of just grass and there food well soaked into a mush.

Plenty of suitable fibre options on the market now for the oldies - why not try soaked grass pellets or fast fibre

This is what i do when my oldie has episodes like you describe,i fill a big tub trug with Haleys just grass and alfa A oil mixed with a big couple scoops of watery sugar beet i usually put a dressing of a handful mix on top, she gets this as well as her feeds. I notice her appetite goes down if she's sore/achey, if shes had a charge round the field and the ground's hard i always up her danilon
As she feels it due to her arthritis, could she possibly be feeling a bit achey due to the damp cold weather ?

Marydoll
25-12-13, 12:39 PM
Hopefully she's sorted now, seeing as this thread is over a year old!

Aaaargh wish id noticed before all that typing :-/