I guess it's time for senior feed?

Hoping for some advice about switching my horse to senior feed. He is a 22 year old Friesian gelding. About a year and a half ago he was diagnosed with Cushings. We started him on Prascend. Around this same time we also noticed he was losing some weight. We switched him from Purina Strategy to Purina Ultium, hoping he would gain some weight. He currently gets 1/2 a scoop of Ultium twice a day (sorry, I know I should know the pounds but I don’t. It is a standard scoop). He gets unlimited hay but in the last year has had trouble eating hay. He quids his hay and eats it very very slowly. He is getting his teeth floated every 6 months but he is now missing a few teeth. The vet also thinks he has arthritis in his jaw, contributing to the problem. He goes out on a dry lot daily for 6-8 hours with access to hay. The barn owner likes to keep the grass nice, so once it isn’t muddy and the grass is grown in nice, he will also go out to graze 6-8 hours a day. But for now, just the dry lot.

The vet was out for a different horse today and called me to let me know my horse looks too thin and we need to change something. He gave me a few different options, keeping in mind increasing hay isn’t possible since he just won’t eat more.

  1. Switch to a senior feed
  2. Add an oil supplement
  3. Add alfalfa cubes, soaked, once a day
  4. Increase the Ultium

My preference would be to switch him to Nutrena Senior. I’ve had good luck with nutrena products in the past and could buy the bags myself. Unfortunately, I’d still be paying the cost of full board plus the cost of the grain, but oh well. But barn owner doesn’t have space to store more trash cans of grain and basically said no. The only two feeds offered at the barn are Purina Ultium and Strategy. I’m going to add the oil supplement, but I don’t know if that will be enough. The alfalfa cubes isn’t really feasible because I work full time and won’t be able to get out there every single day to soak them then feed them.

This leaves me with two options. I am going to go ahead and increase the amount of Ultium now and see what happens. Another option is another boarder feeds Triple Crown Senior and I could see if she would share and split the cost. She has a coveted trash can spot in the feed room. Would Triple Crown Senior be a better option for him than Ultium? Is there another option I should consider?

I am a big fan of Triple Crown Senior. But it is beet pulp based, is that going to be ok with his Cushings.
If you use hot water, you can soak alfalfa or Timothy pellets in about 30 minutes. You could feed that whenever you are out.

Your horse is on full board and his needs are not being met by the boarding barn?

We feed Nutrena Safe Choice Senior to our 23 year old horse wit Cushing’s, now on Prascend for going on 7 years.
He is in excellent shape and health, according to our vets, but he also has all his teeth.

You have a good idea with sharing feed with the other boarder.

What hay are you feeding?
If you could try, feed alfalfa hay, the prettiest, smaller stem, leafier you can find and see how much of that he quids. Be easy starting him, don’t want him to choke if he really gets into it fast.
That could be fed by the barn, better than soaking pelleted alfalfa.

I am surprised that he can graze with Cushing’s without foundering,
Grazing is contraindicated for our horse, he is permanently on dry lots.

1 Like

You really should find out the weight of the feed he’s currently getting (or confirm the size of the scoop). The standard scoop I’m thinking of is 2 quarts, 1/2 a scoop would be about 1 qt (for Ultium I think this is slightly more than 1 lb). For Ultium the bare minimum to meet nutritional requirements is .3 lb of feed for every 100lb of body weight. Hard keepers or horses in hard work would get much more than that.

2 Likes

Triple Crown Senior is an excellent feed and the NSC is lower than Ultium. Horses tend to find it palatable and it also soaks well, which your guy might like since his teeth are not what they used to be. Worth a talk with the other boarder and with your vet about transitioning him over.

I’m leaving aside the question of whether your barn is serving your horse’s needs right now.

4 Likes

Nutrena wouldn’t be my first choice for a senior feed with a Cushing’s horse. The ProForce Senior has an NSC of 18. The SafeChoice Senior is slightly higher at 20. Those values are high for any horse but I would think them dangerously high for a horse with metabolic issues. It’s been suggested a few times already on this thread, but I would highly recommend Triple Crown Senior. Much lower NSC at 11.7. I fed it soaked to a choke prone horse for years - it soaks well and is really palatable.

1 Like

Not everyone has a choice.
Here there are few brands available and few choices of rations in those brands offered.

As already mentioned, consider also how much you are feeding.
If using a commercial whole food ration and fed as the sole source of nutrition the horse is really using, that is different than using a bit of feed as a carrier for medication and the horse living off other, like hay, for us alfalfa hay.

That’s not enough Ultium for his calorie needs. If you can get in on the TC Senior storage with the other boarder, go with that. But the average horse who can still eat some forage will go through about a bag a week, so be sure you can work out the supply and storage needs. It is low NSC and soaks quickly. You could also add oil to the senior but since it sounds like his forage is limited, getting more of a forage based feed into him would be my first step not only for his weight but GI health. It doesn’t really help for him to have access to hay if he can’t eat it.

Could you provide a chopped forage that doesn’t need to be soaked for him to have in between regular meals? Does he share the lot with any other horses?

3 Likes

I have a 21 year old gelding who has traditionally been an easy keeper. He has some trouble chewing due to an old tongue injury, and in the last couple of years hasn’t kept his weight like he used to do with my usual ration balancer and hay approach. This same horse was also having trouble with winter diarrhea, so I ended up hiring an independent equine nutritionist to help me figure out what to do for this horse.

The nutritionist suggested a senior feed for my horse, and specified that it should also be a complete feed. We ended up putting him on 6 pounds a day of TC Sr and also adding some Timothy pellets to his diet. I can’t believe how much better my horse looks. He has gained some weight (needed to gain a bit, but wasn’t skinny) but more importantly has gained muscle and topline. He looks years younger and he obviously feels better too.

So, my suggestion would be to put him on a complete senior feed. TC Sr is a great one, and I much prefer it to Nutrena personally. I know everyone preaches that horses only need forage but the reality is that some older horses can greatly benefit from an easy to chew complete feed.

1 Like

IME It is pretty standard for barns to have a few feed choices and not offer a discount if you want to bring something different yourself.

Of the options that your barn can reasonably accommodate, I would increase the Ultium and add as much soaked alfalfa cubes/pellets as you possibly can. Give him a big bucket with 3-4 scoops (when dry) all soaked up that he can eat throughout out the night (assuming he is stalled at night). Is this something the barn would do?

However, I would personally consider looking for a barn that can accommodate your senior’s changing needs. I completely understand full-board barns not allowing a lot of customizations and such, however that may mean that this barn is no longer a good fit for your guy. That’s perfectly fine, it doesn’t make it a bad barn. No boarding barn can be a perfect fit for every single horse, at all stages of their lives.

2 Likes

No surprise there.

Will they not credit you the cost associated with the grain he is currently getting since they are not willing to supply the feed he needs and that you are paying for?

They can’t fit 1 more can in there? A Senior feed would meet his needs better than adding oil. Are they willing to soak it since he probably needs that as well?

Cushings is progressive - he might need his Prascend dose upped.

Thanks for all the replies.

Yeah, unfortunately, the barn owner isn’t really willing to offer me any solutions. She says there is no space for another trash can. She won’t credit me any cost for any feed. If I did soaked alfalfa, I would have to soak and feed it myself, the barn won’t do it. And I work 50+ hours a week right now with COVID, so I just don’t think I’d be able to get there every day. Really, in terms of what my barn offers, my options are Purina Strategy or Ultium. I have a lot of options of senior feeds to buy in my area, pretty much every brand. But it doesn’t matter if the barn owner won’t allow me to bring it in and I cannot be there every day twice a day.

I’m still waiting for the other boarder to get back to me about sharing the TC Senior. Hopefully she gets back to me!

Also, his Cushings is well controlled now. He just had his levels checked last week and everything is normal. The vet said he doesn’t need his dose adjusted.

It sounds like this barn isn’t the right fit for his needs. It’s pretty normal not to get a credit if you supply your own food, but you have to follow whatever the barn rules are about storing and feeding it. Because his forage situation can’t change, then he needs a commercial complete feed and/or cubed/pelleted/chopped forage and someone who can feed that to him at appropriate quantities and intervals. Not every barn wants to do a lot of customized services which is fine, but their standard services are no longer fitting what your horse needs.

3 Likes

Could you find somewhere to store pre-portioned amounts of feed? If you kept the large bag of feed at home and just brought in the amount needed until your next visit, could you and your barn owner make that work somehow? Could this smaller amount be hung from the wall, or stored on top of something, or on a shelf for example? If you were only storing a couple of days worth at a time, you wouldn’t need a trash can - especially if you were only storing something to be added to his current ration.

2 Likes

This is very, very standard for boarding barns. You’re not paying for “whatever feed your horse needs.” You’re paying for what the barn provides.

If the barn allows just “1 more can” for OP, what happens when 10 other boarders throw a fit because they also each just want “one more can?” The space available is the space available, and the barn can make their own rules for their facility as they see fit.

2 Likes

Be sure you read just how much Senior feed is expected to be fed daily. Perhaps you could get some chopped hay to add to his ration, and have them add some oil for more calories. IRT alf cubes, I have bought the ones from Seminole and some others from another hay company; both took about 10 min to soak. Not a big time commitment if the barn is close by.

We can agree to disagree. In fact you are paying for the feed your horse needs and if the barn will not provide a feed that works for your horse, then you should not have to pay for feed they are not feeding and use that credit toward buying your own.

There is a big difference between a horse who has very special needs ( as in this case) and any random boarder who wants a can and to feed something else. Barns need to be a bit more flexible in cases like this.

I own a very special needs horse. If there’s no room in the feed room to put the grain, there’s no room in the feed room to put the grain. The barn owner can both be doing the best she can, and the horse might need something different. Both can be true!

In any case, hopefully the other boarder is willing to split TC Senior since she already has a “legacy can” in the feed room.

4 Likes

I was able to talk to the other boarder in person this week and she agreed that we can share the Triple Crown Senior feed! She si really into equine nutrition and told me all about the benefits of TC Senior, so I’m pretty excited for the switch. We will take turns buying it and both our horses eat the same about, so we should burn through it at the same rate. My horse is also now on the oil supplement the vet recommended. Now I just wait for results hopefully!

6 Likes