I recently read an article from www.TheHorse.com, where it mentioned that the drawback to feeding your horse hay pellets was a higher feed utilization. While this may be a drawback for an easy keeper, it is a major plus for a senior horse who is a hard keeper.
With my senior horse coming out of winter slightly underweight on quality hay and pasture alone for the first time in 33 years, I knew he needed some help. As horses age it’s not uncommon for them to not be as efficient with chewing hay, which can also affect digestion and feed utilization.
While my horse was not quidding hay and could still chew hay, the mere fact that he was slightly underweight coming out of winter told me that he needed a little extra help. I also knew that to gain weight, he needed more than the maintenance amount of forage every day.
Since hay pellets have a high feed utilization, I decided to give them a try and added them to his diet. I added 3 lbs. of soaked hay pellets twice per day to his usual hay and pasture. (I soak hay pellets for senior horses because I have had two different seniors choke on non-soaked hay pellets probably due to aging teeth).
My horse enjoyed his soaked pellets. Within one month his ribs had more fat cover, and he was looking much better.
While there are many grain-based feeds on the market for senior horses, sometimes just soaked plain hay pellets are all that’s needed to give a horse the forage they need, in a format they can easily digest, to gain weight.
Please note: If your horse is severely underweight, consult your veterinarian for a specialized re-feeding program. Emaciated horses have special medical needs that a veterinarian can address.