Problem: Progressive weight loss over the past couple of years.

  • Dental Examination: Oral examination was unremarkable. Aspen was missing two upper cheek teeth but there was plenty of chewing surface left for him to continue to graze and grind forage. He is out on pasture 24/7 and gets hay in the winter time.
  • Nutritional Assessment:
    • Aspen’s weight by weight tape: 1050 lbs.
    • Body condition score
      [BCS]: 2/5 [Ideal: 5/9]
    • Topline Evaluation Score [TES]: D [Ideal: A/D]
  • Plan:
    • Increase the amount of senior currently fed to a total of 16 lbs.
    • The feed was not changed since it contained 8% fat, enough to produce weight gain. The intake goal was 16 lbs., close to what is ideal for his current body weight. [16-20 lbs. (1.5-2.0% BW).
    • The calories obtained from the grass were consciously not included while we worked to get him up to ideal body condition. The amount of the complete feed given would be adjusted once he has gained weight).
    • The added calories should allow for weight gain and improvement in body condition.
    • Offer the senior in three meals
    • Feeding three times a day kept food in his digestive tract more hours in a day.
    • Diet changes were made gradually over a 10-14-day period to allow the gut flora to adapt to the new diet.
      • Sudden feed changes can cause colic or diarrhea.

Three months later: Aspen gained weight nicely and naturally weaned himself off the extra meal as he was less hungry. His body condition and topline score both improved. And the owner was particularly impressed with how soft his coat became as he was no longer in negative energy balance. The weight gain took several months because Aspen first had to replenish his internal fat stores and then the extra calories improved his body condition.