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

  • Dental Examination: Oral examination revealed that Charley no longer had the ability to effectively grind long stem hay.
  • Nutritional Assessment:
    • Charley’s weight by weight tape: 900 lbs.
    • Body condition score
      [BCS]: 1+/5 [Ideal: 5/9]
    • Topline Evaluation Score [TES]: D [Ideal: A/D]
  • Plan:
    • Increase the amount of senior currently fed to a total of 11 lbs.
      • The feed was not changed since it contained 8% fat, enough to produce weight gain. The intake goal was 11 lbs., close to what is ideal for his current body weight. [13-18 lbs. (1.5-2.0% BW).
      • Charley was also offered 1-2 lbs. of alfalfa pellets daily.
      • The added calories and protein should allow for weight gain and improvement in body condition/topline.
    • Offer the senior in three meals when possible.
      • Feeding three times a day kept food in his digestive tract more hours in a day.
        • This ended up being only on weekends when the owner had more time.
      • 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:  Charley gained weight nicely. His body condition and topline score both improved.  Most of Charley’s diet going forward will always have to consist of a senior feed to provide the fiber he can no longer safely get from hay.  The percentage of fat in the total diet may be able to be reduced at certain times of year but the owner was advised to not let his condition fall below a 4 at any time since it is so hard for horses of this age to gain weight.

Three months later: