How Much Do I Feed My Senior Horse?

Most of us have that one special senior horse – maybe he’s been with us for a long time, or maybe you’ve rescued him in his old age from a bad situation. Whatever the case, most people have had some experience with the special nutritional needs of geriatric horses. Senior feed usually fills this bill very well – soft pellets they can easily chew, lots of digestible fiber, a little extra protein to maintain muscle mass, and added fat for body condition.  It may surprise you to know, however, that the majority of people who feed a senior ration are not feeding it correctly. One of the most common mistakes I see horse owners make is underfeeding their senior horse.

Senior horses can be categorized two ways – those that can eat hay and those that can’t. Because most senior feeds on the market today can be fed as a sole ration (ie 16-18 lbs. per day to a 1,200 lb. horse in light work) they have to be formulated in such a way that a horse eating this much of the feed won’t be overdoing the concentration of vitamins/minerals, etc. Therefore, even if your horse is able to eat hay along with the senior feed, you still need to feed the minimum amount (5-7.5 lbs. for a 1,000 lb. horse), to even begin to meet the fortification requirements that your horse has in advanced age. Below is a guideline for correct feeding amounts for senior horses.

TIP: Put away those coffee cans and get out your scale!!!

If your horse can eat hay, the minimum amount of senior feed he should have per day for maintenance is:

800 lb. horse: 4-6 lbs.
1000 lb. horse: 5 – 7.5 lbs.
1200 lb. horse: 6 – 9 lbs

If your horse depends solely on senior feed and cannot eat hay, the minimum about of senior feed he should have per day for maintenance is:

800 lb. horse: 10 -12 lbs.
1000 lb. horse: 12-14 lbs.
1200 lb. horse: 14 -16 lbs.

70 thoughts on “How Much Do I Feed My Senior Horse?

  1. I have a 16 yr old Walkin ghorse I got in Feb. She came from UT and when she got here she was in great shape and beautiful coat. Now she looks alittle thin, especially on her topline and her coat is not really shining. Not sure is she is under stress, it doesnt seem that way but hard to tell. She came from a place with all mares and now she is in with 2 geldings and a mammoth donkey. Stands alone at times and lays down here and there. She eats some then takes a break then eats alittle more.

    • Hi Karen,
      First, I would make sure all your bases are covered by getting her up to date on deworming and dental care. I would also make sure she is not being bullied at the feed bunk and that the other horses in the pen are giving her ample opportunity to eat. That covered, it sounds like you may want to add Empower Boost to what you are currently feeding her. Boost is a high fat supplement that includes rice bran and flax seed for hair coat health and at 22% fat it will improve body condition (even over the topline) very quickly. Feed 1 – 3 lbs. per day along with her regular ration; this is not a complete feed so you’ll need to make sure you are covering her vitamin/mineral needs with something else in the ration. Hope that helps you – and good luck with getting her back in shape!
      Tiffany

    • she’s depressed and missing her “home and companions”. it takes awhile to adjust to new home and new companions……remember horses never forget and if she was at UT home for a long time, she is homesick and missing those she lived with. if you can spend some extra time with her and see if one of your other animals will accept her and buddy up. been thru this several times ; some passive ones took 10 months to adjust and others few weeks. good luck

  2. Hi I have Norwegian Fjords, my oldest mare is 28- I’m afraid to feed her a large quantity of foo for fear of making her too fat. Easily done with a older Fjord. I am feeding Nutrena Special care- and she is aprox 1200 lbs. – how much feed would you recommend for her ??
    Thanks Randi

    • Hi Randi,
      Thanks for your question! Fjords do tend to be easy keepers – if your mare is doing well on the Special Care I would keep her on it. Horses who can still eat hay and are maintaining body condition on a feed like Special Care probably do not need to be switched to Senior feed. The Special Care will provide vitamins, minerals, etc. that she needs in a smaller meal than Senior feed. If you tried to feed senior, you would need to feed 6 to 9 lbs. of feed, which is probably more than your horse needs. In feeding Special Care, provide plenty of hay along with it and feed .25 lbs. for every 100 lbs. bodyweight. In your case, .25 x 12 = 3 lbs. per day of feed. That will meet her needs nutritionally (considering she is at a maintenance work level) and because you are not feeding extra calories she shouldn’t put on extra body condition. Hope that helps!
      Tiffany

  3. I have a 28 year old Arabian mare that I feed 8 lbs. of Safechoice (regular) per day. She is out on a sparse pasture and has hay available at all times. She is maintaining very well, not skinny nor too fat. Love Nutrena! Will take a look at giving her the senior feed, but since I have five horses, I like having a feed that I can give them all. The Safechoice fits the bill perfectly as of now.

  4. We have used LifeDesign Senior as a sole ration for our rescued Arabian (very bad body condition) for about 3 years and he looks great with a lot of energy. Seemed like he was struggling to maintain his weight this summer and Nutrena introduced their new Senior Feed and it has worked even better than Life Design for putting some weight on him. Thanks Nutrena! You do make the BEST feed for the senior horses. All our horses eat Nutrena senior because it seems to keep them healthier than any other feed out there.

  5. What are the qualifications to be in the field for Safe Choice Senior. I noticed a replay on this site and the Senior was fed to a 3 year old. I have 2 horses about 14 and I have been giving them Safe Choice Senior and Safe Choice Special Care. I did rescue one that was foundered. The other horse is an aggressive eater and over weight. Both are Qtr Horses.

    • Hi LuAnn, Great question. While SafeChoice Senior can be fed to any age horse (with the exception of foals/weanlings, as it doesn’t have the vitamin/mineral levels that are ideal for them), we generally recommend watching for signs of a horse needing a senior feed starting around age 17 or so. Some horses may never need a senior feed, others may need it early. Some signs to watch for include trouble maintaining weight when it hadn’t been a problem in the past, trouble with maintaining muscle tone, a decrease in hoof quality or hair coat quality, and particularly in the 25+ crowd, trouble chewing hay – you would see small balls of wadded up hay laying around if that were an issue. For your horses, you could likely do just fine feeding the Special Care, but there is really no reason to mix the two together. The Special Care is perfect for a horse with a history of founder, and also an excellent choice for a an easy keeper.
      If you have any further questions, please let us know! Thanks ~ Gina T.

  6. Our 18 HH Belgium age 12 is worked as a vaulting horse we feed 2 lb of the senior along with 1/2 lb .Empower, extra Vitamin E and oil. twice a day. If I followed your formula it would be a very large amount of grain. He also gets 3 large flakes of hay, two grass and one grass/alfalfa twice a day, plus a lunch of one large flake of grass. How much extra should we be feeding Senior and empower?
    Many thanks

    • Hello Merry, Thank you for the question. Keep in mind that due to his draft horse size, the feeding rates are going to seem very large if you compare it to a light breed horse. The key for him is really to monitor how his body condition is maintaining – because if he is maintaining well on a feeding rate that is well below the suggested amount, then he’s getting all the calories he needs but not the nutrition. It’d be akin to you only taking a half a vitamin pill each morning – it’s just not enough of those nutrients.
      If the 2 lbs of senior is keeping him in good condition, then we would suggest trading over to Empower Balance – it is specifically designed to be fed at a much lower rate and still provide the nutrients needed without the calories that a full serving of the senior feed would do.
      Hope that helps – let us know if you have more questions!
      Thanks ~ Gayle R.

  7. I feed a 38 year old quarter horse the senior feed. He is doing well on without getting fat. He is old ranch horse and is now missing teeth. He does eat hay but can’t really chew it well enough to live on it. I feed him 12 lbs senior and then 6 lbs pelleted hay a day. During the winter I am wondering should I up his senior feed and lower the pelleted hay amount? I blanket him because otherwise he is cold. (his opinion- not mine). We live north of Lexington, Ky. Thank you

    • Hi Cathy, Great question. We would suggest keeping the pelleted hay where it is, and increasing the amount of senior feed he is receiving. Start by increasing his daily ration by 1 pound – hold that amount for a few weeks to see how he does. If he doesn’t show signs of improving, increase by another pound for a few more weeks. Do this until you find the amount he is gaining at, and hold him there until he reaches the condition you want him in, then slowly back down until you find where he maintains his proper weight and condition.
      Thank you ~ Gina T.

  8. I have a 19 yrs old I have him now about 2yrs now my very first horse. I was feed him triple crown senior and made him to hot so I went to the perina senior. It made him hot I ;m feeding by the lbs on the bags. So I went to all stock tasty 10 now and he looks like he;s losing weight. I feed him by what the says 4 1/2 lbs in the morning and the evening to total of 9 lbs aday. and Hay in the evenings. I don’t know what to do about the feed. A lot of people telling me what to do .bSo what do you think

    • Hello Priscilla,

      Thank you for contacting us. The senior feeds offer high fiber diets, along with increased amino acids to help meet the senior horses needs. For this reason most senior feeds are a 14% protein, to provide the needed levels of amino acids lysine, methionine, and threonine. Most senior feeds are also lower in starch and sugar, or NSC. I am wondering if maybe your horse was just feeling good on the balanced senior diet. Were you feeding him according to his activity level?

      If you are currently feeding a product lower in protein and reduced amino acid levels, you may be seeing your horse deplete muscle mass and body condition. The new feed may also be lower in calories.

      I notice you also mention that you feed your horse hay in the evening – we would suggest offering hay all day, free choice. A good rule of thumb is 2% of his body weight per day in forage.

      I would then suggest balancing the diet with Safe Choice Senior. As you have done in the past follow the feeding directions on the tag.

      Good luck ~ Gayle R.

  9. Have a rescue 30y/o TB, he taped at 850#, still on pasture 24/7, switched to SC Senior 3 wks ago, 14# daily. No progress yet. Still hopeful. Has been vetted and floated.

  10. I have a 20 year old walking horse that I am feeding Nutrena Safechoice Senior to. He was underweight and losing muscle along the top line, and hips. I am so happy with this feed because he now has a healthy layer of fat over ribs and his topline has filled in and so have his hips. I have never fed feed that worked so well. I love it because I love my horse and you guys have his interest when making this feed.

  11. I read about all these 14-15 year old “senior” horses, mad I have to laugh. I’m feeding a 34 year old Appy mare. She has been on “equine senior” now “Safe Choice Senior” for about 5 years and is doing well. She gets 6 lbs a day plus 1 lb beet pulp.
    She eats hay (free fed), so I don’t know how much she is getting out of it.

  12. I have been running an Equine Rescue for about 20 years…. We have seen a lot of horses come and go and have been feeding Nutrena Feeds for quite a while before we fed Purina. We have found that all of our horses here benefit from the nutrition they get from your feeds and thank you so much for working so hard to invent such great feeds that are able to meet the needs of so many equines…. we see every thing from way to fat to way to thin, from young to old. 🙂 your feeds provide us with the tools we need to better the lives of so many equines in need.

  13. Hi, I have a senior horse (Thoroughbred), I’m not exactly sure how old he is since we got him from a rescue but my vet said he had to be in his 20’s, so by his behavior I’m assuming he’s around 23-25 (he’s still able to run around like a older teen (on a good day) but tires very quickly). He was extremely skinny when we got him (just skin and bones) and he’s still pretty skinny but it looks like he’s starting to put on weight. We feed him an alfalfa flake morning and evening, and 4 lbs of Kelly’s Golden Age Senior with 2-4 lbs of 4-way grain. According to your chart he should have 5-9 lbs a day of just senior (he’s 17 hds but very skinny so he’s probably less than 1200 lbs but more than 1000), but we were giving him less because we add grain. Do you think the amount he gets now (with the grain) is okay, or should we up it? Thanks for your help!

    • Hi Blaine, Thanks for the question. If you have a horse that you are trying to put weight on, we would actually recommend feeding for one activity level above the horse’s actual activity level – he needs more calories than what he is burning. So, for your horse, you may find that he needs to either be at the top end of that 5-9 pound range, or even a bit more – at least until he gets to the weight you want him at, then you can start to wean the amount back down until you find the amount of grain that helps him maintain properly.

      So, in your situation, you could continue with the combination of senior feed and 4-way, however it’s likely that the 4-way is lower in fat and calories than the senior feed, which means you’d need to feed even more. Depending on it’s fortification level, you might also see overall health improve on a more fortified and balanced product by feeding just the senior.

      Hope that helps – if you have further questions, please let us know! Good luck with him ~ Gina T.

  14. If I am also feeding soaked cubes (currently alfalfa and timothy, but would love to select one over the other) as well as 2 lbs. of beet pulp to my 31 y.o. TB gelding, how much Senior will I need–same amount as listed on the chart? Any preference as to timothy vs. alfalfa cubes for older horses? Thank you!

    • Hello Linsey, Thanks for the question. A horse should receive 1.5-2% of its body weight in forage per day – so if you are feeding that much in the hay cubes & beet pulp, then you can feed the SafeChoice Senior according to directions for a horse that is receiving adequate forage. If you are only feeding less than that range in the cubes/beet pulp, then you would want to feed according to the directions for a horse that is not receiving adequate forage. Hope that helps!
      Thank you ~ Roy J.

  15. Hello I have a 36 yr old Arab he eats 9 lbs of feed a day in 3 meals plus 2 lbs of beet pulp and a supplement for his joints as well as he is given 2 slabs of hay a day which mostly keep him busy pulling all apart. And all of his food must be soaked to a mash or he chokes. I tried him on senior feed and when he was on that at the same lbs he dropped weight. He is a tall skinny boy tapes at 950 and he needs the feeds with a fat content of 10 or higher. Why don’t senior feeds have higher fat content?

    • Hello Hannah, Thank you for contacting us. Senior feeds on the market today need to meet a wide range of needs for our older friends – some are like yours and need a great deal of calories, while others need the benefits of a senior feed without the calories – thus many senior feeds fall in the middle to try to meet the needs of both through wide feeding rate ranges. There are a few higher fat senior feeds on the market, including our new ProForce Senior, which is launching in select parts of the US. Triple Crown also makes a nice high fat senior feed as well that you might look in to.

      You may also consider feeding a larger amount of a senior feed that is easily available to you – some horses simply need to take more in.
      Thank you ~ Roy J.

  16. I have a miniature horse that, according to my vet, is “way north of 30 yrs old”…she is little (probably about 24”) and around 300-400 pounds (?)….what amount of feed would you recommend for her?..she still eating a little hay, but cannot chew it very well…

    thanks!

    • Hello Mary, Thanks for the question. At her age, she should be getting a product such as SafeChoice Senior, that contains the roughage she needs in a form she can consume easily. She should receive 3.5-5.5 lbs per day if she isn’t getting any hay/pasture.
      Hope that helps – good luck with her! Gina T.

  17. We began using Nutrena Senior last last year to a horse that we could not put weight on. She was only 6 at the time, but was a very high strung quarter horse (barrel horse). We also used it on another horse that was hard to maintain weight. He was 16 (also a barrel horse). We no longer have the 6yo but now have a 21 yo quarter horse mare that was underweight when we got her in Oct., but the lady just had her teeth floated. We began increasing her feed a little along and also adding some beet pulp & a weight gainer that has rice bran & flax seed. (not sure the brand) She seems to eat fine, but we have just changed her from textured feed to pelleted. The other horses she was with ran her off from her feed so we have put her in with the 17 yo gelding. They have access to hay 24/7 but she is still not gaining weight. She only weighs about 800 lbs but she is only 14 hands tall and still very underweight. She is fed twice per day appx 4 lbs per feeding. Any suggestions ?

    • Hello Kaye, Thank you for the question. Putting weight on horses can be a long and slow process – much slower than they can drop it! Some horses are inherently harder keepers than others and will need more feed. We would suggest increasing her feed, ideally through an additional feeding if possible. For weight gain, you want to feed according to the directions for one activity level higher than what she is actually at, until she gets to the condition you want her in, then you can back down to a level she maintains at.

      You could also look at switching to an even higher fat/calorie product, such as SafeChoice Perform.

      Thank you ~ Roy J.

  18. I have a 23 yr and a 19 yr, I feed both of them Triumph complete, I rope off of the 19 yr and the 23 yr is retired from roping. I am considering switching to the senior feed and was wonder at what rate do I change over to a new feed? should I mix the two for a while ? They have free choice hay and will go to pasture later in spring. Thanks rf

  19. I have the entire gamut of horses…
    >>Yearling Qtr horse (looking like easy keeper!) on 2-lbs Safechoice Mare & Foal (divided into 2 meals)
    >>A 2 year old (Qtr horse) on 4 lbs Safechoice Mare & Foal (devided into 2 meals)
    >>14 yr old Qtr mare AND a 9 yr old Qtr Stallion (not breeding this year) on 2 lbs of SafeChoice Original
    >>Two 3 year old Qtr mares on 1-1/2 lbs of Safechoice Original
    >>15 yr old retired AQHA show mare EASY keeper with Ringbone (gets 1-lb LMF Super Sup G)
    >>18 year old almost foundering Arab who came in obese (now on a diet!) on 3 lbs Safechoice Sr
    >>24 year old Tbred with no back teeth on 6 lbs Safechoice Sr divided over 3 meals
    (he now eats mostly hay pellets).

    All these horses are fed Bermuda grass 3x per day (except Tbred) and are turned out for 12 hours per day (what a life!) QUESTION #1: What is a good age to transition the young ones off Mare & Foal…is Original the next step at that time? (wondering about the 3 yr old Qtr mares (not under saddle yet) QUESTION #2: What is the minimum amount of your feed require for an easy keeper on turnout but will still maintain the proper vitamin/mineral intake?
    Thanks!

    • Hello Janean, Great questions, and that sounds like quite the herd! Bet they keep you busy 🙂

      Question 1 – the proper age to transition off of a mare & foal feed is at their 2nd birthday, and what you transition to will depend on what you are doing with the horse. If he goes in to training and is getting worked, then Original is a great option. If he is not going to go in to training and will be just ‘hanging out’ in the pasture, and is an easy keeper as you think he might be, then SafeChoice Maitenance, or even Empower Balance, might be better options, as they are lower in calories.

      Question 2 – the minimum feeding rate will depend on the product, and on the size of the horse. On our website, on each product page there is a feeding rate calculator on the “Feeding Directions” tab where you can plug in your horse’s weight and activity level, and it will tell you how much you should feed. Most of the SafeChoice feeds, for a 1000 lb horse in no activity, have a minimum level of around 3 lbs per day. If you go below that, then you would want to look at a product such as Empower Balance, which comparatively would have a typical feeding rate of 1.5-2 lbs per day.

      Hope that helps! Good luck ~ Gina T.

  20. I have a 32 yr old Thoroughbred/Quarter horse mare, still ride her. I feed her Kountry Buffet, 2 scoops a day morning and night, along with a flake mixed alfalfa/grass and timothy hay twice a day. She’s actually a bit overweight, and keeps a good coat of hair in the wintertime. She’s an easy keeper. Should I be feeding her Senior feed? I’m told at the feed store that if she has no problems with what I feed her she should be fine. She has some hay that she spits out, but not much. I had the vet float her teeth 2 yrs ago. I’m sure she probably needs another float job. But she’s in great shape for an older mare. I’ve had her since she was 24. Been riding her when I can, she’s frisky and loves to go for rides.

    • Hello Peggy, Thanks for the question. Sounds like your mare is doing quite well! If she still has most of her teeth (a new float job is definitely recommended), and does seem to be consuming most of her hay, then she is likely fine on her current ration. If you see the hay being spit out in larger quantity, then you would want to move to a senior feed that contains the needed roughage. Hope that helps!
      Thanks ~ Gina T.

  21. My Ted is 30 something- -a great veteran of old… I feed him 4 to 6 lbs./day Senior Safe Choice, Alfalfa cubes mixed w/ beet pulp, hay, and this winter I added soy fakes and extruded mix. Well, I love him. When I run out of cubes -sometimes scarce- he thins down. I find ballancing is hard because he gets terrible diarreah. Am I the crazy cook?

    • Hello Peggy, Thanks for the question. The SafeChoice Senior does contain alfalfa as a roughage source – we would suggest for a balanced overall diet, to use an increased level of the Senior in place of the missing alfalfa cubes – just make sure, as with any transition, to do so slowly over a period of at least 5-7 days to avoid digestive issues.
      Thank you ~ Gina T.

  22. At the end of my rope with my Quarter horse senior boy. He was a rescue 4 yrs ago. estimated at now 25 years old.. he has ALWAYS had weight issues but this winter we really dropped due to 2 abscessed teeth on the upper R, pulled and atb’s given, floated the rest of his teeth, but now he is just balling up his hay and not really getting it. He has been on Equine Senior feed about 10-12 lbs/day plus a lb of Rice bran powder twice/day on top, then watered down to a mash..he gets that down pretty good, I was hoping getting him on grass might help this spring, has intermittent loose stools, is on a regular worming program, and tested fine for parasitic control. I do try to separate him from my arab mare who is bossy, but i’m just really concerned we’re coming to the end of the trail here with him. I will be starting him up on Kaolenpectate for live stock twice/wk and as needed, did thsat last year and it helped some with the stools. i’ve done the Rice bran oil before but hesitate bc of the stool issue. Any thing else I’m missing here?

    • Hi there,
      It sounds like you are doing all the right things with your older horse. It sounds like you may need to go to Senior feed as the sole ration, and soaking it is probably best with his past of dental issues. Putting him on grass will also help as he can pick and hopefully get some intakes from that. Make sure if you go solely with senior that you are feeding according to tag directions and giving him a sufficient amount based on his bodyweight. One other thing to try: you can add Empower Boost in addition to his senior ration. Feed 1-3 lbs. per day of this high fat (22%) rice bran and flax seed nugget. It will help add calories to the diet and the additional fat should help gain and maintain body condition. Good luck with your old guy, and nice job so far of caring for this rescue!

  23. I have a 19 year old horse and she eats hay just fine but she get colic every once and a while. I want to know how many cups of grain i should be giving her. please help me. sandy

    • Hello Sandy, Thanks for contacting us. There are a large number of things that can cause colic, so we suggest you read our post on management practices to prevent colic if you haven’t already!

      From there, we recommend feeding grain according to the directions, which will tell you how many pounds of feed to give your horse each day based on her weight and activity level. You will need to weigh your feed, as all feeds weigh different amounts – a cup of one feed can weigh a lot more or less than a cup of another feed. A kitchen scale or fish scale will do the trick very nicely for you.

      Once you have the right amount of feed, make sure you split it in to two or three feedings per day to help minimize intake per meal. Along with the other tips in the article above, you should be able to help minimize the occurrence of colic episodes. Keep in mind though that if she is already prone to colicing, it may simply be something you have to deal with for her.

      Thank you ~ Roy J.

  24. I have an 27 yr old Texas Prison Horse. He isn’t doing so hot right now. And I feel like I am over feeding him but this is the only thing that I can find to even add any weight to him at all. He is half draft and half quarter 17.1 hand draft body. Very think and drafty legs. He has teeth and will eat hay and seems to digest it all ok. Well here is what I feed him. Tripple Crown Senior: 4 scoops at 20 pounds and 2 scoops of alfalfa pellets twice a day. It is all wetted down so he doesn’t have to use more power mushing any of it. I would love to feed him again in the middle of the day but I feel like I am over feeding him anyway. He has seen a vet and he said feed him as much as he needs to function. I have had him for 3 years now and he seems to just be going down hill lately. But the vet said everything is normal for a old horse of his size. With work mornings and nights are easy but lunch is hard for me to do. At a loss here.

    • Hello Robyn, Thanks for the question. Your vet is correct – feed him what he needs to function! At his size, he is going to need a LOT of groceries – and when you factor in his age and potentially slowing digestive system, and generally the aging process, he may start to need more and more TLC to stay in good condition. The Triple Crown Senior is an excellent product, one of the highest calorie senior feeds out there. One thing you could look at, to increase the calories per pound you are feeding him, is replacing the alfalfa pellets with more of the Senior feed. Triple Crown Senior (and most senior feeds) contain plenty of alfalfa meal already, so they are getting plenty of fiber intake through the feed.
      I hope this is helpful to you – please let us know if you have further questions! Thanks ~ Gina T.

    • Hello Ken, Great question. You can assume that for each hour spent grazing, they will consume about 1 – 1.4 lbs of grass (dependent, of course, on factors such as grass quality, quantity, palatability, etc). Studies have shown they will spend about 70% of their pasture time grazing. So if your horses are out 24 hrs/day, they would spend about 17 hours grazing and take in somewhere around 17-24 lbs of pasture.
      Hope that helps! Let us know if you have more questions. Thanks ~ Gina T.

  25. Hi! I have a 20 year old paint quarter horse. It is so hard to keep weight on her. I bought her severely hove weight got her weight back up with stratagey, but not the size I like, and now that winter is hitting, with all the rain and mud she is loosing weight again. I am giving her a complete feed with alfalfa pellets and sometimes mix in a sweet mix and hay morning and night. what should i be feeding her to help her gain and maintain weight? any ideas?

    • Hi there, first of all make sure she has been thoroughly checked by a vet to rule out any health issues that could be causing weight loss. Have her teeth checked and get on a deworming program. After those steps, I would ensure she is getting enough forage (1.5 – 2% of her body weight each day) and then look into feeding a senior formulated feed like SafeChoice Senior. This is a high fat senior with soluable fibers that is easy to digest. In addition, you can add a high fat supplement like empower boost to add additional calories if needed.

  26. I have a 23-year-old quarter horse who has really gone downhill over the past two years or so. He had some infections that really sapped him, but we got all that under control. He had his teeth floated, checked for parasites (low shedder), bloodwork done and no abnormalities. By end of last winter he was down really bad, despite being fed 8 pounds per day of senior feed plus a fat supplement (Moorglo) and pelleted alfalfa (broken into morning and evening feedings) and free choice access to good prairie hay (kept inside the barn) and being blanketed. He gained condition over the summer to probably a BCS of 4, but now he’s going back downhill. The vet has checked him and all is fine healthwise. He always cleans up all his feed. What do you think about a high-fat diet for a senior horse? We’ve been adding BOSS and canola oil to his feed and plan to boost that, plus the vet wants us to add back in Moorglo, and I’m thinking of switching him to a senior feed with a higher fat content. Is this a good idea?

    • Thanks for the question! Yes, increasing the fat levels would be a good idea – fat is a quick way to add calories to the diet. It sounds like you are doing the other things right – teeth, deworming, etc. I would recommend you try SafeChoice Senior. Our unique Nutri bloom technology allows your horse to be more efficient with forage digestion, so they get more out of every bite of feed they take. In addition, the probiotics and prebiotics in this feed will help populate the gut with beneficial bacteria; these help break down feed into nutrients that the horse can more easily absorb. Be sure you are feeding according to tag directions based on the weight of your horse – the most common mistake when feeding senior is that people don’t feed enough of it. SafeChoice Senior, top dressed with a high fat supplement such as Empower Boost should be beneficial to this horse. Good luck!

  27. Hi, I have an approximately 25 year old gelding that I’m trying to sort out feeding under new circumstances. This question is mostly about once a day v/s twice a day feedings
    Gideon is a small horse, about 14.2. They said he was a Morgan cross when we took him in as a rescue almost two years ago. He was underweight and had diarrhea constantly. We figured out that he was missing a lot of teeth and started him on soaked feed. Tried various brands and a combo of Purina Senior and Strategy worked best with only very occasion bouts of diarrhea and he came up to a very healthy weight. Since we recently added soaked alfalfa pellets (or cubes) we haven’t had any more tummy troubles. My question has to do with how much can/should be fed if you are only feeding once a day rather than splitting feedings over two meals.
    I have been feeding Gideon morning and evening but because of bad pasture circumstances have had to lease a place for the horses to stay away from home, and going there to feed twice a day would be very challenging. So I’m wondering if feeding once a day will be ok if I work towards it over a couple of weeks. Currently he is eating a total of 7 lbs of feed (which soaked makes about 16 qts) plus he eats 4 lbs of alfalfa pellets (makes 12qts soaked) a day…this has been split into two meals…half in the morning and half in the evening. would it be safe to eat all that in one feeding?! Also, at the new place he is staying the pasture is MUCH better and he loves grazing though I’m not sure he digests much of it, I would think I might could taper off his feed a little.
    So should I feed the total amount of his feedings at once?
    Or should I decrease it some to feed in only one meal?
    If this amount is too much for one feeding, what amount would be considered acceptable for feeding a horse once a day?
    Or is feeding an older horse only once a day a strait up “no-no”?
    Thanks, Emily

    • Hi Emily! I have a few questions I would like you to consider for your Morgan gelding as we look at his diet:
      What is his current body condition? Is he thin or just right?
      Does he have any metabolic issues?

      You also mentioned that he is in a new pasture, I am assuming you are in a warm climate and still have fresh pasture available, if so how many hours a day is your horse able to graze? Do you honestly feel he is meeting his 1.5 – 2% of his body weight per day in forage, or does he need to be supplemented?

      The key here is to look objectively at the horse and he will tell you what he needs. If his weight is good, and he is gaining weight on the pasture you may be able to adjust his concentrate intake.

      I do not like to go beyond 5 pounds of concentrate, prior to soaking, per feeding. I know you mentioned you are currently blending two feeds for your horse, and he did experience some digestive upset, prior to adding the alfalfa pellets. I would recommend finding a Senior feed that contains pre and pro biotics, to encourage quality gut health and added fiber, as well designed to be fed as a mash. When you start to blend feeds in a feeding program often times the horse does not get the correct balance of vitamins and minerals. This is where the feeding directions on the tag, will help you determine the proper diet. You will also find it easier to balance the fiber intake in his diet, instead of mixing 3 sources of concentrate.

      If according to the directions on the feed you choose, you find that 5 pounds per day of the concentrate will meet your horses nutritional needs, you may be able to do one feeding per day. However, at the current rate of 7 pounds of mixed feed and 4 pounds of alfalfa pellets, I would not recommend just one feeding.
      Thank you ~ Gayle R.

      • Is this an official answer? Or a reader answer? I would like to know the answer to the once per day feeding question. Thank you, Ellie

        • Hello Ellie Mae, Thanks for asking! Yes, this is an official answer. We don’t recommend feeding more than 0.5% of bodyweight, or 5 lbs for a 1,000 lb horse, in one feeding. If your horse’s total daily concentrate ration is under that, you can feed once per day. We do strongly recommend ensuring hay or pasture is available all day, or split into at least two feedings per day, however, to keep the gut full of fiber. Use of a slow feed net or nibble net will help with this as well.
          Thank you ~ Gayle R.

  28. We have a 30 yr old gelding, who still acts 20…but can’t keep on weight. He has teeth/chewing issues (we’ve had teeth floated) seen vet, etc. He’s on pasture, Eq. Sr., hay.
    He loses so much feed unless it’s mixed with water, soup like. My question is…is there a problem feeding this way? Equine Sr./warm water mixed. He almost drinks it down and loves it. I love to see him get so much down.
    Does consistency matter with feed?
    Is alfalfa ok for old horses? I am thinking of starting to add some soaked alfalfa pellets to the “soup.”
    Thanks….

    • Hello Kelly, Thanks for the question! Yes, absolutely go ahead and mix the senior feed with water. This is common practice, and we recommend it regularly for horses with dental issues. In regards to your question about alfalfa, yes, it is OK unless they have a specific kidney issue that causes them issues with digesting protein (fairly uncommon). Keep in mind that most senior feeds actually contain dehydrated alfalfa right in the pellets – so you may not need to do separate alfalfa pellets. Check the feeding directions to see if it is a complete feed that can be used for horses who can’t consume hay/pasture, and make your determination from there.
      Thank you! Gina T.

  29. I have a 30 yr old who has dental issues, not keeping on weight and recently colicked. She is on Total Equine and Alfalfa. I read good things about Safe Choice Senior. I would like to solely feed her the safe choice at 12 lbs per day. Does this have everything she needs or do I need to add additional supplements. Also how do I slowly introduce this to her and do I still give her the alfalfa while doing so. Thank You.

    • Hello Linda,
      Thank you for contacting us! You can feed the SafeChoice Senior as the sole diet, yes. Depending on her size, 12 lbs might be on the lower end of the feeding rate for her, so just keep an eye on her condition and adjust up or down as necessary.

      We do suggest making all changes to the diet, especially a drastic one like this, over a period of 7-10 days. You can follow the transition plan listed in this blog post: http://www.horsefeedblog.com/2011/08/transition-feed/.

      Thank you ~ Gina T.

  30. Hello I have a senior (23 yrs) miniature horse. He weighs about 250-300 lbs and we are having trouble keeping weight on him. How much would you recommend that he be fed and how often.

    • Hello Deena, Thank you for getting in touch! He should be consuming forage at 1.5 – 2.0% of bodyweight, so that is 4.5 to 6 lbs of hay per day, and then for a feed we would suggest SafeChoice Senior. For his size, he should receive about 2 lbs per day of that product, to maintain weight. To gain weight, 3 lbs per day. This is all assuming he can still chew hay properly. You could also try the addition of 0.5 lbs per day of Empower Boost, our high fat rice bran supplement, to help get him up to the condition that you want him in, then back off that or remove the Boost completely once he reaches the correct condition.
      Thank you ~ Gina T.

  31. I have a 35 year old quarter pony, and he has begun to loose weight. I have him on senior care feed and I am wetting it. he is still loosing weight. I also give him wet alpha pellets, because he not longer can eat hay. what do you recommend, as I dont want to increase his feed and founder him. He no longer gets worked due to COPD. Any advice would greatly be appreciated.

    Thank you,

    Margaret B

    • Hello Margaret, Thank you for contacting us, and we’re sorry to hear that your pony is having trouble! While you mention you don’t want to increase his feed and risk foundering him, the fact of the matter is that he needs more calories. You have two options:

      1. Switch to a higher fat Senior feed, such as our ProForce Senior if it is available in your area. This will provide him more calories in the same feeding amount.

      2. Increase his daily feed intake to increase his calorie intake. This can absolutely be done safely, in a couple ways.

      The most straightforward way, if it works with your schedule, is to add an additional feeding every day – start small and gradually work up, of course. This increases his calorie intake easily, without overwhelming his digestive system at his current feedings. If you can’t do an additional feeding, then you may have to increase the size of his current meals. Do this slowly, of course, and know that the high fiber content of a senior feed (or increasing the amount of alfalfa pellets) is not likely to cause founder, due to the low starch/sugar content of these types of feed.

      Senior feeds are designed for horses to live entirely on them, without any hay, if needed due to dental issues – so increasing the amount to keep his weight on is safe to do! We hope this helps, if you have more questions please let us know!
      Thanks ~ Gina T.

  32. My 31 year old stays in great shape on 9 1/2 lbs of SC Senior, plus beet pulp and a little bit of alfalga that she eats the leaves out of. She does not have much tooth left.
    Thank you for making such a great product! I have tried 3-4 others and always came back and am staying with Nutrena!!!

  33. We frequently take in senior horses that are emaciated just because they are not getting enough to eat. Thank you for this article. We feed 10-12 lbs of Senior feed per day. Actually we feed senior to all of our horses as it is forage based

  34. Hey i have a older mare I have just started on senior feed. If I feed her that and alfalfa cube, how many alfalfa cubes do u recommend. She also has a bale of costal hay to munch on in the pasture. I don’t want to feed her to much neither do I want to not feed her enough!

    Thanks, Madison

    • Hello Madison, Thanks for the question. Horses should receive 1.5 – 2.0% of their bodyweight in hay/roughage per day, so if she’s a 1000 lb horse, then she would need 15-20 lbs per day. You’ll want to figure out how much of the bale she is consuming, and balance that against the alfalfa cubes. Also, simply keep an eye on her condition as you go, and adjust basis her weight and muscle tone.
      Thank you ~ Gina T.

  35. Hi Gina! I really need some advice on Senior feeds. (Equine Senior VS Triple Crown Senior) I have a 40 year old paint horse that refuses to give up. I have been feeding him Equine senior (wet) for the last 20 years with bran pellets or alfalfa pellets or beet pulp (mash) mixed together with supplements. He doesn’t have any teeth left to grind grass or hay, he makes spit balls! He is wormed on schedule and the vet checked his mouth to make sure he didn’t have any infected teeth. He never recovered from this last winter. I would like to know your opinion on switching to Triple Crown Senior. I feel the Equine Senior just isn’t helping anymore no matter what other grains I mix with it. He is still getting 14lbs per day of Equine Senior and 2 lbs of alfalfa but he is still losing weight. 🙁 I’m afraid to founder him.. I have had him for 20 years now and I know his days are numbered but until he gives up, I will keep taking good care of him. Your advice would really be appreciated. Thanks!

    • Hi Alice,

      Thanks for the question. You are doing a good thing with your old boy! There is a significant jump in fat and calories from the Purina Equine Senior to the Triple Crown Senior – and similarly, to our new ProForce Senior feed, if you are interested! So yes, switching to Triple Crown Senior (or ProForce Senior!) would help increase the amount of calories he is taking in, without having to increase the amount he is eating per day.

      We would also suggest not mixing in other grains – just keep it at the highest fat/calorie level senior feed you can, and push that too him.

      We’d suggest making the switch to either the Triple Crown or the ProForce Senior, and once he’s fully switched over and acclimated, give him about 3-6 weeks to see if you can tell a difference. If you are seeing a difference at the same feeding rate, then just keep holding him steady, and he should continue to improve. If you feel like he still needs more, you can increase him by a couple more pounds per day – perhaps through an additional feeding time, if you can manage it.

      I hope this information is helpful, please let us know if you have more questions!
      Sincerely ~ Gina T.

    • Hi Alice,

      Thanks for the question. You are doing a good thing with your old boy! There is a significant jump in fat and calories from the Purina Equine Senior to the Triple Crown Senior – and similarly, to our new ProForce Senior feed, if you are interested! So yes, switching to Triple Crown Senior (or ProForce Senior!) would help increase the amount of calories he is taking in, without having to increase the amount he is eating per day.

      We would also suggest not mixing in other grains – just keep it at the highest fat/calorie level senior feed you can, and push that too him.

      We’d suggest making the switch to either the Triple Crown or the ProForce Senior, and once he’s fully switched over and acclimated, give him about 3-6 weeks to see if you can tell a difference. If you are seeing a difference at the same feeding rate, then just keep holding him steady, and he should continue to improve. If you feel like he still needs more, you can increase him by a couple more pounds per day – perhaps through an additional feeding time, if you can manage it.

      I hope this information is helpful, please let us know if you have more questions!
      Sincerely ~ Gina T.

    • Thank you for your interesting question about your 20 year old Arabian that is thin and has no teeth. We have had considerable success using pelleted Senior Feeds soaked to form a mash. You can pour warm water on the feed and let it soak for a few minutes and it will become a mash that requires virtually no chewing. These are very safe because they are higher fiber and lower starch than other products and have the protein/amino acids to help rebuild muscle. In our Nutrena line, Safe Choice Senior or Triumph Senior will work well. You can increase the feeding rate, following complete feeding rate directions on the tag/bag until you start seeing weight gain, then hold until you get to desired body condition. You can also use alfalfa pellets and soak into a mash. You will need to provide loose salt free choice and have fresh clean water available.
      Best wishes!

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