Chopped Hay for Senior Horses: Forage Alternatives
When a horse becomes a senior citizen, many feeds change to accommodate the different capacities of the horse. For instance, you may have fed your senior horse on a senior feed but may notice changes in his body shape and overall performance.
With age, a horse could develop dental problems, preventing him from chewing or digesting regular hay. One of the solutions to this problem is to give your horse chopped hay or haylage.
Chopped hay is a special type of hay in which the leaves do not only fall into a ground hay wagon. Instead, the leaves are chopped in such a way that the fiber particles are broken into small bits.
As a result, the hay is easily digested by the horse because it's easier to break down. What's more, chopped hay has an interesting texture that your senior horse may enjoy eating, rather than the usual "mouth-full".
If bringing out new horse feeds may be costly, you may save money by feeding hayloft hay and chopping it yourself. There are special machines used for chopping such as the chaff-cutter or hay chopper, which are available on many farm stores.
Nonetheless, you could also have a hay bale chopped into smaller pieces at the feed store or by a professional farmer in your area.
Importance of Forage
When horses get older, their digestive system slows down which causes them to be less efficient at digesting food. Foraging for hay or other roughage may help to relieve some of their discomfort.
What once was a well-filled hayloft becomes an empty bale refilled every two or three weeks.
If your horse is a picky eater, try adding some chopped hay to his daily nutrition. Often, seniors will eat it up, whereas it is much easier for younger horses to simp