Feeding older horses can be tricky. What they need and how much they can eat change as they get older, and some foods can make their digestion more difficult or even cause diarrhea. But there are ways to feed your older horse and stay healthy, happy, and active.
As horses age, they are prone to various diseases. While a horse’s physical well-being is important, it is important to know what to feed a horse for good health. A horse’s diet should also include a balanced diet of hay and grains. Hay and other forages contain certain vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that a horse needs to function effectively.
Feed for older horses should be formulated to meet specific nutritional requirements, which change over time. The National Research Council (NRC) has determined that horses aged 7 years and younger require fewer calories and carbohydrates, while those 8 years and older need more energy and protein. Younger horses also require more vitamins and minerals than their older peers.
Many horse owners have older horses who can no longer produce enough milk for themselves. If they are unable to be milked, then they need to eat a diet that provides all the nutrients they need but won’t produce much milk. Feed for older horses has many ingredients to supply essential nutrients, but what makes it special is the addition of fats like flaxseed oil, coconut oil, and soybean oil. These fats help to provide energy for older horses, and their high Omega 6 and Omega 3 fatty acid content also benefits the skin and coat.
Feeding older horses can be challenging, as older horses tend to put on weight more easily. Follow this advice to keep your older horse healthy.
- Reduce the ratio.
- Feed less grain.
- Feed less hay.
- Add more pasture and roughage.
- Introduce long, slow-release soluble feeds (such as beet pulp or alfalfa pulp).
- Introduce more fat in the ration, such as vegetable oil, flaxseed, and linseed.