Geriatric feeds are specialised in feeds for old and veteran horses still in work or retired. There are no feeds specially designed for these horses in SA and we have had some queries of how best to feed these horses hence this sales bulletin.
If a horse or pony maintains condition with age and is in good health, there is no real need for a special feed ration especially designed for them.
However, as horses become older, they become less efficient at digesting nutrients for various reasons and this becomes critical to the horse’s well being. If aged horses lose body condition, they may need additional supplementation from ”hard feeds” and be put on a specific diet. Additionally, some diseases that are common in older horses require specialised feeding programs and feeds.
For the Veteran Horse still in work or needing to gain condition certain products of the Capstone Horse Feed range can be utilised for this purpose especially if these ageing horses are still working and fed raw cereal grains. Research shows raw cereal grains like maize or barley, which have large starch molecules, are not easily digested in the small intestine of the horse. In fact less than 50% of these unprocessed grains are digested in the small intestine. Therefore, if raw grains are fed to old horses, more than half the amount fed passes as undigested starches into the hindgut where it ferments yielding acid, heat, gas and ammonia. Loss of appetite, diarrhoea, colic, acidosis, tying up and even laminitis sometimes follow, as well as reduced fibre, energy, protein and mineral absorption.
Capstone feeds such as Stud Time and Perform Time pellets are products that contain micronized (a patented “infrared cooking” process) cereal grains that ensure far better digestion and increased nutrient availability.
The end result is reduced acid build up in the caecum, as over 95% of these micronised grains are digested in the small intestine. The hindgut is therefore free to cope only with the fibre part of the ration as it is designed to do thus greatly helping the ageing animal. Both Stud Time and Perform Time are highly digestible feed sources.
Please note that Capstone Cool Time could also be used especially if an old horse has a tendency to tie up or become excitabl,e but Stud Time may be preferred due to its added protein and the higher level of minerals and vitamins, which suits older horses with compromised nutrient absorption.
Perform Time pellet is better suited to horses with poor dental health that have trouble chewing muesli type, hard feeds.
If the above feeds are fed below the manufacturers recommended levels they may have to be supplemented with Capstone Excel feed supplement to ensure the horse receives the minimum daily requirements of vitamins, trace elements and amino acids or have Life Time Balancer Pellet added to the ration.
Please consult your veterinarian or nutritionist for advice there on.
For retired veteran horses or those in very light work. Although some retired veteran horses may not need much extra energy, they still need good nutrition for optimum health, and Capstone Life Time Balancer pellets ensures they receive all the nutrients needed to balance hays, chaffs and pastures. If your horse is retired but is tending to lose condition, then you can use the feeds listed above, adjusting the amounts to achieve the weight gain they need. In addition to the above, it is well known that old horses are less efficient at digesting and utilising fibre sources as well, and here the use of good quality chaff such as Equichaff, mixed with the feed will help, especially for horses with poor teeth.
The above Capstone feeds also contain a yeast culture that enhances fibre and mineral digestion in the hindgut, and research shows yeast cultures are especially beneficial for older horses. The improved digestibility can help horses gain or maintain condition and may help reduce the risk of colic. These Capstone products provide a combination of high quality protein, highly digestible energy sources, added fat, multi-vitamins, trace minerals, and amino acids to help encourage muscle tone, cell renewal, tissue repair, and healthy digestion. They are SA’s “Cordon Bleu” veteran horse feeds.
Other tips for older horses:
- Regular check of teeth and hoof trimming/shoeing.
- Regular health checks.
- Regular worm control.
- Shelter and rugging when cold and wet.
- Highly digestible immature forages – hay and chaff.
- Remove pecking order effects on feed intake.