How many calories does a pony need?

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by 2pinkmom, Jan 5, 2011.

  1. 2pinkmom

    2pinkmom Songster

    Mar 31, 2010
    I have our friend's pony on loan for a couple of weeks to keep my Percheron company until my new off-the-track TBs arrive. The pony lived with us for 6 months last year, so we're used to each other's quirks. He's older than the hills (close to 40), and has virtually non-existent teeth. I got him through last winter without losing any weight. This winter he's in much worse shape. He's 13 hands and was about 500 when my vet weighed him last June. I'd estimate that he's lost 75 pounds, and a lot of his general condition. He can't chew hay, really doesn't chew grass very well, and has been leaving most of his grain. He won't eat beet pulp or chopped forage. My friend's vet told her to feed him anything he would eat. I've been doing that, but all I've been able to get down him is sugar cookies, Graham crackers, apple sauce, and handfuls of sugar cubes. He won't eat bread, and rejects anything with a mashy texture. Meanwhile, I've kept him blanketed 24/7 because he's so thin, and I'm really concerned because we're due for another cold weekend.

    I think the ultimate answer is that it is time for him to be put down. However, it isn't my decision to make. I just need to keep this little guy together until he returns home in 2 weeks. My main concern is that with the exception of sugar, none of the foods on his "approved" list contain enough calories. I'm thinking that a horse that size needs 3000-4000 calories a day to keep his system functioning. Does that sound about right? He ate a sleeve of Graham crackers this evening, but that was only 560 calories. [​IMG]. Do any of the horsey folks have any ideas for super-calorific, palatable foods that can be, well, gummed?!
  2. badmareday

    badmareday Hatching

    Mar 15, 2009
    Lehighton, Pa 18235
    I suggest Purina's Equine Senior soaked in water 'til it is soft. Old horses love it.
  3. 2pinkmom

    2pinkmom Songster

    Mar 31, 2010
    I should clarify. Grain was a bad choice of wording. I should have said feed. He eats a pelleted senior formula from a local co-op. He showed a mild interest in my big guy's Nutrena Safechoice, but hasn't touched it since. We may have to go to a mash texture, but he has a history of rejecting that. I've found he turns up his nose at corn and rice bran oils in his food, too.
  4. Skyesrocket

    Skyesrocket Songster

    Mar 20, 2008
    You might want to try calf manna. There is something about the smell of it that attracts the pickiest of eaters. You could mix some of that into his feed. Molassess too. You could try mixing his feed with applesauce or crumbled up graham crackers.
    Winter is so tough on the old guys. I know I have a 30+ year old mini that is blind. You could be right about it being his time. I hope his owner makes the kindess choice for him.
    Sorry, can't help with the caloric intake.
  5. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Well if he'll only eat a few things then really the calories issue is irrelevant, all you can do is shovel as much food as he'll eat into him and hope for the best.

    One other thing you might try is hulled "bits and pieces" sunflower seeds -- they sell them for birdfeeders. If you can only get the whole ones (I'm talking about the ones with the hulls removed, so it is all soft nut, not the way sunflower seeds are normally fed whole) you can mash them up with a blender or a brick or such. A lot of horses eat those, they go down reasonably well without teeth, and are high calorie per gram.

    Best of luck, will think good thoughts for the pony,

  6. greeneggsandham

    greeneggsandham Songster

    Mar 10, 2008
    Get the food processor out and start throwing carrots, apples, gramham crackers anything that he will eat in it and give him a big bucket of slop. I had a pony 20 years ago that was 38 and only had his front teeth. For 6 months I made him 3 big buckets a day of slop. It was mostly apples, carrots, molassas, sugar cubes, and hay strechter pellets (ground up also).
  7. lil'turkeymama

    lil'turkeymama Songster

    May 14, 2010
    I'm not sure either how many calories he needs.I have used the senior type pellets feeds and they work well.My vet suggested a nursing mare feed for my old mare for the extra calories.I don't remember who makes it but there is a pelleted feed that covers what hay they need.Its a complete feed and you don't even have to feed hay,I always offer some hay to make sure they aren't just be fussy.I also add Red Cell to a feed for an older horse.I know you mentioned you thought he didn't have any or very few teeth.I once had a pony give to me that I was told was blind and toothless.He was a very sad sight when I picked him up.Just skin and bones.But he was so gentle and really not that old.10-15 years is what the vet said and he wasn't completly blind and he did have some/most of his teeth.Turned out he had 2 bad teeth that was keeping him from eating.Had those pulled and he went to eating and got fat fast.I hope its not the end for your friends pony,but it could be.I think a foal is real cute but its always been the elder horses/ponies that tug at my heart the most.Best of luck.[​IMG]
  8. 2pinkmom

    2pinkmom Songster

    Mar 31, 2010
    Lots of good suggestions! Thanks, guys. I really like this little guy. He will give you kisses on the cheek with his wet muzzle [​IMG]. That's part of what is hard/puzzling about the whole thing. He's living on air, but he's cheerful as ever. I got him to eat some frosted Cheerios this evening, and a sleeve of grahams this morning. He eats in fits and spurts, as you can imagine. I go back and forth about shutting him in his stall overnight. He's one of those horses that seems colder for being in a confined space. But I think he's going to need all night away from the dominant Percheron to get him to eat "gummy food" in sufficient quantities.

    Sigh. This horse management stuff always makes me feel stupid!
  9. Orchid

    Orchid Songster

    May 10, 2010
    North Central MN
    Don't feel stupid! Horses just love to keep you guessing.

    My old gelding goes off his feed every now and then. It's always perplexing and disheartening when it happens. Here are a few suggestions from what I've learned feeding him:

    Try stalling or tying the pony up separately from the other horses when feeding him. Give him a good long time to eat his meals, at least an hour. Put a bucket of water next to his feed pan so he can drink as he eats, especially helpful for horses with few teeth. Feed him on a schedule.

    Don't feel like you're "stuck" with senior feed. ANY feed is good if he'll eat it, whether it's for lactacting mares, growing youngsters or senior horses. You may need to try several different feeds offered in several pans at once to see what he really likes. Also don't be afraid to mix in soaked alfalfa cubes, soaked beet pulp shreds, applesauce, crushed graham crackers, molasses, brown sugar or even apple cider. The goal is to get any kind of calories into him that you can, however he will eat them (obviously, don't give him so much sugar that it will found him [​IMG], but just enough to sweeten the feed enough to make it interesting). Omolene 400 is not available everywhere but if you can get it, I found on the suggestion of a friend that most horses really like it, and it's very calorie dense. Also try some Amplify or Empower as a top dressing on the feed, it's high-fat and seem to be very palatable to horses, as is Calf Manna.

    Good luck, I know how frustrating it is to have an otherwise healthy horse that just doesn't want to eat. [​IMG]

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