I own a 26-year-old Tennessee Walking Horse gelding that weighs about 1,050 lb (475 kg). Right now, he’s outside for half the day and stalled for the other half. He eats a mix of senior feed and performance feed, about eight quarts each day with one-half cup of oil top-dressed on his grain per day. He gets as much good-quality hay as he will eat. He shed out thin last spring, and we’ve been trying to get weight on him since then. We managed a bit of progress despite the fact he’s not a fan of the senior feed we give him. I think he’s getting too much grain. Can you recommend a concentrate that does not require such a high feeding rate? Maybe I could cut back on the oil? I am restricted to a certain brand of feeds, so please make your recommendations based on this brand.
If you are limited to a certain range of feeds, you should contact a salesperson from that company, as this individual will have much more knowledge about the company’s line of feeds than I would. Keep in mind that certain brands do not consider every horse’s nutritional needs.
Although I cannot be specific about the brand you choose to feed, I do have some other suggestions that you might consider.
First, you could try to reduce the amount of concentrate you are feeding by supplementing with high-fiber forage alternatives. One option is to replace a portion of the concentrate with alfalfa pellets. These are an excellent forage source and work really well to help put weight on older horses. Another great fiber source is beet pulp, which is usually fed soaked. A combination of alfalfa pellets and beet pulp fed as a mash is a wonderful way to get the essential fiber into a horse that has made it into the golden years.As long as you are feeding the minimum recommended feeding rate of your current feed, then the rest of the calories could be made up with this fiber mash.
Second, to increase calories without adding to bulk, you could double the amount of oil you are currently feeding as long as your horse tolerates it. Increase the total amount gradually, perhaps over the course of a week or two. Be sure to mix the oil thoroughly into the grain.
Third, you could try feeding the same amount of concentrate in three or four meals rather than two. Decreasing meal size without decreasing daily volume sometimes helps, too.
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