What Ingredients Go into the Best Senior Horse Feed?
The Best Senior Horse Feed: What’s (in) the Scoop?
The grass is greening up, which is good news for senior horses. Fresh grass is more comfortable to chew and digest than hay, so if your older horse lost weight over the winter, he might be on his way to gaining it back. To ensure he gets all the nutrition he needs, though, you may also want to consider a senior horse feed.
Formulating the Best Senior Horse Feeds
The best senior horse feeds take the digestion issues and nutritional needs of an older horse into consideration, helping seniors maximize their nutritional intake.
A Senior Horse’s Ability to Chew
One common issue for senior horses is the ability to chew. For many, this ability declines either because of weakened teeth or a loss of molars. When this occurs, the horse isn’t able to grind forage into small enough pieces for the enzymes and microbes in his digestive tract to do their job and extract the necessary nutrients. Therefore, many of the best senior horse feeds are formulated with a higher level of nutrients, like vitamins and minerals.
The Digestive Tract in a Senior Horse
In addition, a senior horse’s digestive tract may not be as effective as it used to be. One issue is the intestinal lining; as its effectiveness diminishes, it becomes harder and harder for nutrients to pass into the bloodstream. Another issue is the decreased production of the enzyme that digests starch. If too much-undigested starch makes its way to the hindgut, it gets fermented, increasing acidity in the hindgut and possibly leading to laminitis and/or colic. Still, another reason is parasitic damage in the digestive tract, which leads to problems digesting protein.
To combat the declining effectiveness of the digestive tract, many of the best senior horse feeds have a lot of digestible fiber from ingredients like beet pulp, soybean hulls, and/or alfalfa hay. This makes it easier for the digestive system to break it down and get both the nutrients and calories needed. Typically, the fiber percentage in the best senior horse feeds is at least 12%.
Quality Protein for Senior Horses
Protein is vital for body functions of all horses, and seniors are no exception. If a senior horse doesn’t take in enough protein through his diet, his body will begin to break down muscle tissue to provide the needed protein. That’s why the best senior horse feeds tend to be formulated with somewhere between 12 and 16% protein, from a high-quality source like soybean meal.
Fat Content in Senior Horse Feeds
As mentioned earlier, many senior horses lose weight in the winter and gain it back in the spring and summer. However, even access to fresh grass isn’t always enough to keep weight on an older horse. Therefore, many of the best senior horse feeds have a higher fat content, which provides additional calories and helps a senior horse put on or maintain weight.
Distinguished Feed for Senior Horses
Last year, we introduced Distinguished. It’s made with optimum levels of soluble fibers from sources like beet pulp, soy hulls, and premium chopped hay and provides significantly more calories than a conventional sweet feed.
Overall, its nutrition profile includes:
Are you wondering if Distinguished might be the best senior horse feed for your horse’s nutritional program? Give us a call, 859-255-7602; we’d be happy to talk about whether it suits your horse’s needs.
Meet Frank the Tank!
His story is actually minimally known, but he has been fed Hallway at just about every farm he has existed on, and there have been many. I used him to pony yearlings at Hinkle Farms, he babysat weanlings at Alastar, and he now babysits the polo ponies at Mt Brilliant! We guess he is roughly 31 years old, and still looks like a copper penny every summer!