What to Feed Horse with Heaves? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 5 Old 10-21-2013, 10:59 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Jackson, MS
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Question What to Feed Horse with Heaves?

Okay I got some info on my last post but I need specific help. What is the best feed for a horse with COPD? I know to wet his hay down but that's hard to do with a round bale. Would alfalfa be better? Pelleted or non-pelleted? He has just started gaining weight and I don't want to lose any ground.

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post #2 of 5 Old 10-21-2013, 11:14 AM
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You absolutely need to wet the hay, no way around, especially roundbale hay. Get a slowfeeder haynet, fill it and soak it in a tub or wheelbarrow, dump the water, let it drip out a bit and hang it up. If you have two or three of the nets, it's even easier, do the one for morning the evening before. Or, other possibility, get a roundbale slowfeeder net. Key is that horse cannot bury it's head in the bale to pick the best leaves and meanwhile inhale all the dust there is. This net will also eliminate a lot, if not all wasted hay and pay for itself within a couple of months. Nice side effect in my book
As for hardfeed, any feed is fine as long as it's given wet/moist.

You'll have to eliminate dust and mold, it u s THE most important thing, no way around.
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post #3 of 5 Old 10-21-2013, 11:15 AM
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He should definitely not be on round bales. Very bad for heaves. If you can feed him flakes wet down he would be much better off. As well you should wet his feed. I feed my horses beet pulp with no molasses and Timothy hay cubes all soaked.

Is he on any grass at all. That would help him to gain some weight. If not you may have to increase his feed.
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post #4 of 5 Old 10-21-2013, 11:45 AM
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Regardless of how you feed, don't let the horse get fat as this places additional strain on his breathing. Fat horses, like fat humans develop fat deposits within the body which makes the organs work harder. With COPD he needs all the help you can give him. Check Paddock Paradise, not Jaime Jackson's book, for ideas on slow feeders, there are a good variety of ideas on the website.

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post #5 of 5 Old 10-23-2013, 12:40 PM
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I will tell you what we did.

One was severe. All hay soaked, but my friend let him out to graze periodically. Unfortunately she did not keep the grasses mowed short. He was on meds (dexamethasone and albuterol). He did have a stall that was air conditioned because he developed anhidrosis (no sweating). Hated the stall, instead preferred to stand under a fan that had a mister on it. She passed away a couple of years ago and left her two horses to me. By then he was pretty bad: full blown anhidrosis, not eating, breathing labored no matter what meds we used. I made the decision to euthanize him when he stopped wanting to eat.

My horse was diagnosed this summer. I handled it differently. I used Dex at 10cc for a few days, then 5cc for a few days to get everything under control and then tapered back, using only 2ccs a day to maintain. I built him his own paddock off the main field. First it was a dry lot, but the dust aggravated him so I opened it up larger including about an acre of grass, but I kept it cut short weekly so no seed heads came up (which is what many are allergic to). He got Senior feed, NO hay. He actually lost the huge 'hay belly' that he had when on pasture. He was always a very easy keeper, getting a handful of feed just to come up. He looked better and more fit. He was doing really good, but I knew it would get worse if he stayed here. Got him moved into a home further north west and he is totally off the meds and doing great.

A friend had one that was so severe that it looked like a walking skeleton. It was doing poorly in it's current living situation (on pasture). The lady wanted to do right by the horse and had tried things to no avail. She looked into boarding with my friend and with only a sand lot for turnout. It's working for this horse. He has turnout for some hours a day in a round pen, otherwise stalled. The lady is riding him all over the place though and his weight is amazing. He gets NO hay either. He is only fed a complete Senior feed, four times a day, which has no dust. He is not on meds anymore. He has had no flairups, but is never allowed to eat grass or hay...

Roundbales are the worst for heave horses. You can take parts of it off (keeping the rest under cover) and then soak it, but honestly going off the hay and onto a complete senior feed multiple times a day does really work as they aren't exposed to the seed and dust of the hay.

I hope you can get it under control. It takes more management to keep them comfortable.
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