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Hay for senior horses: which one to choose for better nutrition?

Hay for senior horses: which one to choose for better nutrition?

When it comes to hay for senior horses, there are a number of key considerations that must be taken into account to ensure healthy nutrition for this group of equines.

Care of elderly horses requires special attention, especially in terms of nutrition. As horses age, in fact, their dietary needs change, and hay plays a crucial role in this context.

What to feed and old horse?

The diet of an elderly horse should be carefully balanced to support its health and well-being.

The first factor to take into account is that with age, horses can develop dental problems that make it difficult to chew raw hay and other hard foods. Also, their digestive system becomes more delicate, requiring easily digested, nutrient-rich foods. And this is where choosing the right hay enters the picture.

How much hay does an adult horse eat?

Let's begin with how much an adult horse can eat.

The amount of hay an adult horse consumes depends on a number of factors, such as its weight, activity level and general health status. On average, a horse should consume about 1-2% of its body weight in hay each day. For elderly horses, however, this amount may have to be adjusted according to their chewing ability and unique nutritional needs.

What is the best hay for senior horses?

The best hay for horses varies according to their unique needs. For elderly horses, it is recommended to opt for high-quality, soft and easily digestible hay. Dehydrated alfalfa hay, for example, is an excellent choice thanks to its high protein and calcium content, which is critical for sustaining health in elderly horses.

Is it necessary to wet the hay?

Wetting hay is a common process for senior horses. This procedure not only aids chewing, but also reduces dust, which can be an issue for horses suffering from respiratory sensitivities.

To wet the hay, simply soak it in water for a few minutes, making sure it is moist but not soggy, to preserve its nutrients.

Differences in feeding between young and old horses

The difference in nutrition between young and old horses is significant. Whereas young horses need a diet that supports their growth and development, older horses require a diet that takes into account their limited chewing ability and a more sensitive digestive system. Furthermore, elderly horses may have specific nutritional needs due to health conditions such as arthritis or the aforementioned dental problems, which require special care when choosing hay and supplements.

Therefore, the choice of hay for older horses is a key consideration in their care. It is critical to choose a high-quality hay that is suitable for their specific needs, and to consider practices such as wetting the hay to facilitate its consumption

Understanding the differences between the feeding needs of young and senior horses is vital to ensuring that these noble animals enjoy an optimal quality of life during their golden years.

Tailoring nutrition for elderly horses

Diving into the details of caring for senior horses, it is important to emphasize the importance of tailoring their diet

Besides the choice of hay, it is also crucial to consider the choice of supplements that can support joints, digestion, and overall health. Supplements containing omega-3, glucosamine, and probiotics can be particularly beneficial. 

Another important factor in tailoring a senior horse's diet is also monitoring the amount of feed consumed.

The optimal amount of feed for an adult horse can vary widely, and older horses may be at risk for overweight or, on the contrary, weight loss. For this reason, it is important to fine-tune the amount of hay and caloric intake according to the horse's physical activity, weight, and general condition.

Nevertheless, any additions or changes to the diet should be made under the supervision of a veterinarian or nutritionist to ensure that it is tailored to the horse's specific needs.

When a horse becomes an adult: Transition in feeding

The transition from adult to senior horse does not happen from one day to the next. Typically, a horse is considered to move into its senior phase around 15 to 20 years of age.

It is during this transition period that it is important to gradually adjust the diet to respond to changes in metabolism and nutritional needs.

Importance of water and exercise

As well as nutrition, constant access to fresh, clean water is paramount for elderly horses. Hydration plays a crucial role in preventing digestive issues and maintaining overall health. Regular exercise, commensurate with the horse's ability and condition, is also critical to maintaining muscle strength and mobility.

A holistic approach to the care of older horses

So, we have seen that the choice of hay for elderly horses is only one part of a holistic approach in their care. A carefully balanced diet plus appropriate supplements, along with careful management of exercise and hydration, are all key elements in ensuring that senior horses live full and comfortable lives

Bearing in mind that each horse is a unique with its own needs, owners and janitors can provide the best possible care, celebrating and honoring the golden years of their loyal companions.


For specific advice on feeding your senior horse, please get in touch with our experts via this form. Our team can recommend products, such as Agricole Forte dehydrated alfalfa wafer cubes, with all their benefits, including avoiding the risk of dust ingestion by your horse.