My horse won't eat his hay... - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 7 Old 12-07-2013, 09:47 AM Thread Starter
Weanling
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Kentucky
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My horse won't eat his hay...

So my 19 year old gelding has decided that this year he does not like the hay we have. When I give it to him he kind of looks interested, eats a little, then stops. I don't believe he's sick because he grazes outside all day when the weather is nice and he eats his pelleted hoof supplement just fine. I also don't think it's the quality of our hay because it's green and, for the most part, it smells sweet, and our other 4 horses eat it with no problem. The fact that he won't eat, coupled with him being a senior horse, led me to decide that I'm going to start feeding him (senior) grain, at least for the winter. He's in good weight so I don't want him to gain weight or lose weight just maintain, I don't really know how much to feed. He is on pasture 24/7, no significant amount of work, and weighs about 950-1000 lbs. When I say that he's on pasture all day, I mean what's left of it. The pasture is mostly brown with a little bit of green here and there. So he'll be able to get a little food from that, grain, and I will continue to feed him hay. But it's really worrying me that he's not eating his hay. Like yesterday, it was "snowing" (it was really ice so it was icing?) and they stayed in the barn all day and he barely ate anything! Thanks in advance!
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post #2 of 7 Old 12-07-2013, 09:58 AM
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Forage is important for digestion and keeping things moving, have you had his teeth checked maybe it is uncomfortable for him to chew to the hay. I would start giving him soaked beet pulp and hay cubes so at least he is getting his forage, and is easier to chew. The senior pellets will help maintain his weight, feed the recommended amount on the bag for his activity level. Personally with my older horse I like him a little heavier, not obese, so if he does start to drop weight I have a little leeway to make adjustments to his feeding.
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post #3 of 7 Old 12-07-2013, 10:00 AM
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Depending on prices in your area, it may be cheaper just to buy him his own special hay than to go with a senior feed, assuming his teeth are good enough to handle hay to start with. If he is not eating any significant amount of hay, senior feeds are meant to be fed at 10-20lbs per day when relied upon as the main source of nutrition, which gets expensive fast! That's a bag every 2-4 days, or up to 15 bags a month, which needs to be split into multiple small feedings throughout the day to help prevent ulcers. Different hay or hay pellets may be more economical. One reason not to rely on senior feed other than cost though is that if you have a cold winter, the short, processed fibers in the feed won't keep him nearly as warm as the digestion of the long-stem fibers in true roughage, which means he will have to burn more calories and eat even more to maintain weight.

To be honest, I really do think getting him eating hay properly is your best option. Again, this is assuming that a) there really is nothing wrong with your hay, and b) there is nothing wrong with the horse which would prevent him from eating hay. I always worry about ulcers in older horses or horses with "off" appetites. Giving some alfalfa might help his stomach out if that is part of the issue both because most horses love it and it tempts them to eat, and full tummies buffer the acid better, and also because the higher calcium content helps neutralize some acid directly. Not eating hay is really concerning and not normal. If you can't get him eating properly, I would strongly recommend having a vet out sooner rather than later.
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post #4 of 7 Old 12-07-2013, 10:02 AM Thread Starter
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A follow-up to that...
I went out and fed just a second ago and he dove right in when I fed him his hay! I don't know why all of a sudden he is eating but I'm glad :) I am still going to feed him grain so the question remains: How much should I feed him if 1.) He weighs 950-1000 lbs 2.) He is not overweight nor underweight 3.) He is not getting much from the pasture and he's getting 4 flakes (but if I fed him grain he would get less) 4.) He's a senior horse that would benefit from the extra nutrients in the feed 5.) He's in very light work (like a trail ride every couple weeks)
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post #5 of 7 Old 12-07-2013, 10:04 AM Thread Starter
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Sorry, I posted the above comment before I saw these responses.
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post #6 of 7 Old 12-07-2013, 10:05 AM
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We have a 34 yr quarter horse that two years stopped eating hay. We put him on a&m and senior feed thinking we were doing him a favor. All it did was cause him major ulcers or added to an ulcer problem. The vet suggested soaked alflafa pellets and rice bran. It has been almost two years now and he is in great condition and ulcer free. I wish I knew how to post pics I'm new to the forum but long time horse owner.
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post #7 of 7 Old 12-08-2013, 09:53 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kristyjog View Post
We have a 34 yr quarter horse that two years stopped eating hay. We put him on a&m and senior feed thinking we were doing him a favor. All it did was cause him major ulcers or added to an ulcer problem. The vet suggested soaked alflafa pellets and rice bran. It has been almost two years now and he is in great condition and ulcer free. I wish I knew how to post pics I'm new to the forum but long time horse owner.
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Thank you for your input, and just so you know you can put picture on by clicking 'Go advanced' under the typing box then go down to 'manage attachments' and upload photos.
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