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Publication type: Baccalaureate Thesis

Year: 2015

Author(s): Wittmann, Victoria

Title: Ist die Fütterung von spezifischen Kraftfuttermitteln für geriatrische Pferde sinnvoll? Eine Literaturübersicht mit Beispielrationen.

Other title: Does the use of mixed feeds for geriatric horses make sense? A literature review and examples for daily rations.

Source: Bakkalaureatsarbeit, Vet. Med. Univ. Wien, pp. 82.


Khol Annabella

Berger Sonja

Vetmed Research Units:
Institute of Animal Nutrition and Functional Plant Compounds

Graduation date: 27.11.15

The population of elderly horses (>20 years old) has risen sharply and this trend is expected to continue. In order to maintain an animal's health throughout their lifespan special attention is required to a number of dietary elements in their latter years. This study is focused on aspects of elderly horse nutrition and their dietary requirements. When a horse consumes its food ration it is first crushed and salivated followed by transport to a relatively small stomach where continuous acid production furthers digestion. The combination of a small stomach and continuous acid production requires the horse to eat at least every four hours. The food moves from the stomach into small intestine for enzymatic digestion, followed by the large intestine where the main microbial digestion occurs. This process is inefficient and results in the loss of some nutrients to waste production. Elderly horses suffer a slow down of some metabolic processes due to aging. The caregivers must however learn to recognize the signs of aging and change the environmental conditions to the benefit of their animal. For example the teeth of an elderly horse need to be checked regularly to ensure the molars are able to provide sufficient crushing. The digestibility of the animal feed too should be as high as possible and in order to achieve this effect processes such as the thermal treatment of grain may be required. The requirement of energy and crude protein of these animals rises up to 20 %. Elderly horses also have an increased demand for selenium, zinc, and vitamins A and E. This study calculated daily rations for a 500 kg elderly horse and considered the metabolic energy, crude fibre, digestible crude protein, calcium, phosphorus, selenium, zinc, and vitamins A and E delivered by the ration. The calculated ration however produced a large energy surplus, thus a feeding approach based on energy demand is expected to be more beneficial. Due to the consumption of hay the required daily quantities of selenium and zinc are difficult to achieve requiring an approach that uses supplements. The other elements show only occasional few deficits/oversupplies. In practice it is generally assumed that a mineral supplement may be omitted when supplying the animal with a compound feed. This appears to be problematic for elderly horses, in part, due to the age of their gastrointestinal tract. Their inability to absorb from their feed for balanced nutrition is recognized. However, an understanding of the full nutritional requirements for elderly horses is lacking further nutritional studies are required.

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