Meanwhile Back at the Ranch: Feed

At the beginning of the year, we raised Milton’s rations significantly [Miseries: Feed Me!]. He improved. For a while. Then stalled. His attitude was more pleasant, but still grumpy, “He’s never going to be a ray of sunshine, but he’s less vile-tempered.” He disliked being groomed. I was annoyed with him. Our blacksmith thought he looked skinny. There was nothing major or specific, just a collection of minor irritants. In short, he wasn’t thriving. We needed a change. My in-house nutrition advisor decided to try switching feed.

Milton had been on the same highly-digestible senior feed that Rodney has been on for years. We were given to understand that Milton was relatively uncomplicated, feed-wise. We figured as long as he was getting adequate nutrition, he would be okay. Milton certainly isn’t the festival of digestive issues that Rodney has been [Zeno’s Horse Training]. Still, a new feed is an easy change for us. One of the benefits of having horses at home. We went back to a name-brand, 10% sweet feed that Mathilda always ate and that Previous Horse ate for years before he went senior.

(Mathilda did not do senior feed, thank you very much. She was even picky about where her sweet feed came from. Seriously, in the winter, her national brand food had to come from store X rather than store Y or she wouldn’t eat it. No one at either store could tell us why there was a difference. But I digress.)

Voila, happy horse!

Milton no longer greets the world with default, ill-tempered unpleasantness. His ears are up more often than not. He is less pissy about being groomed. Blacksmith thinks he looks good. Even Rodney has noticed. The horses are more likely to be found grazing closer together. Rodney still moves away from Milton, but no longer leaps like a startled bunny when Milton looks in his direction. (A 17-hand horse leaping like a s.b. is quite a sight. But I digress again.)

More food having a positive effect I can understand. Calories is calories. Digestibility, I can also get behind. Different food having such a big mental effect? Not so much.

As for the rest, yes, yes. Believe me, there is nothing you can say on the subject of Milton about which I am not already berating myself.

Feed changes, your experience?
Gratuitous Cat Photo


10 thoughts on “Meanwhile Back at the Ranch: Feed

  1. I’m struggling in this arena too. Six months after fiftteen year-old (healthy) rescue horse arrived he developed what is best described as “poopy-butt” or PB. Yes, we did all manner of testing, including several fecals and came up with zip. Best we could figure was a change in hay supplier. Can’t really fix that once you have 350 bales in the barn and other two horses are fine. Since then I’ve tried a multitude of things to combat the problem, but then the Winter From Hell kicked in and I was no longer able to spend the better part of every other day rinsing his tail and baby-wiping his hocks. So I learned how to use a tail bag (Props to YouTube), which helped immensely, but was a challenge since our horses are primarily outside 24/7. (Hard to manage a tail bag when snow is hock-deep until you can plow.) At this point I’m currently weaning him off his present feed and starting him on senior. (Nutrena, if anyone thinks brand matters) I simply don’t know what else to try anymore. Some days he’s better than others. He always runs a bit lean (which I prefer to chubby) and is in excellent health and spirits otherwise. Teeth are fine too. Mostly this is a major headache for ME. Having a horse who randomly raises his tail and projects a stream of manure-water three feet behind is a bit disturbing, if not embarrassing. However, appropriately named, Rascal doesn’t seem to mind a bit. 😉

    1. Poor Rascal. Yes, change brands. We went from Purina to Triple Crown for Rodney and vice versa for Milton. Yeast, perhaps to help his gut deal with hay? Ulcer meds? Those are my two tricks. Have you considered electrolytes? I’ve heard them discussed in association with human PB to compensate for fluid loss. Mostly likely it’s the new hay as you suspect. I hope he adjusts. Soak hay? Good luck.

      1. Please tell me more about the yeast! I know you’ve mentioned it before, but I’m very backyard and wasn’t able to figure out much about it on my own. Will be switching to Triple Crown ASAP. I did some reading since previous reply and had decided that much already. I do have electrolytes on hand just in case. Soaking hay is a last resort as feeding forage separate is complex. Thanks for all the suggestions. If nothing else it’s nice to know I’m thinking along the same lines as others!

  2. Food is key in people as well as horses. When I avoid red meat, wheat and alcohol, my arthritis is held in check. When I indulge, my hands are stiff the next day. As I age, my hips and shoulders protest too.

    It’s not easy but after decades of trial and error, it works. My body is important to me so it’s worth it. If my body is stiff, I don’t function as well as I do normally. So I eat carefully.

    Keep up up the good work! You are on the right track.

  3. I’ve seen huge improvement in my boy when I switched him from sweet to a high calorie high fat feed. I attribute it to his tendency toward ulcers, and sweet feeds tendency to make those worse. My best guess for Milton might be a soy sensitivity? Most of the extruded feeds like senior are heavy in soy, and some horses just can’t deal with it. From anecdotal evicence i’ve heard that in horses that are sensitive, it can cause just all-over malaise and body aches and just general NQR.

    Don’t beat yourself up over Milton. He’s a lovely boy and I think you’re quite likely to have a grand time on him soon, especially after you get him over to the barn and have a few quiet rides on him in the indoor where he doesn’t have so much to think about at one time!

  4. Diamond V. Picture of what we use: Not simple to track down. Had to call company to trace distribution. Store has to order special from regional center. There is another kind from them that is added to feed manufacture, not to top dress. Don’t expect store to know the difference or even that it is available.

    LOVE it for Rodney. Everyone else gets/will get as matter of course. Suspect it as major ingredient in many expensive supplements, but have not researched. My comments on the effect: OTOH could have been many other factors. Still, first do no harm & I trust Karen’s judgment in nutrition.

    1. Thanks for posting this information! I’ll have to do some homework and see if I can improve things here. It’s certainly well worth a try! Thanks again!

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