Reasons for Loss of Appetite
Some horses and ponies can be incredibly fussy by nature and others seem to go off their food for no reason. This can be incredibly frustrating for owners, but in some cases there could be underlying health problems or causes instigating the change.
Illness, dental issues, gut distress or PPID could be the underlying health issues and if owners are worried, and your horse or pony is drastically loosing condition, contact your vet.
Other reasons include:
• Adding new supplements or medication can actually alter the taste of the feed.
• Changes to the feed – if your horse or pony has been fed a molassed feed and then changed to an unmolassed, they will be used to the original.
• If feed is actually spoiled or the buckets aren’t clean.
• Change in routine that can be stressful for example, changed stables, moving yards or fields.
• Increase in intense work or change in work generally.
• Season – during spring/summer, when horses and ponies are generally out grazing for longer they may be fuller and not want to finish their feed.
• If in a herd if your horse is lower down in the hierarchy and bullied a lot this can mean they are less likely to touch their feed.
There are some measures owners can put in place to help in avoiding the issue of loss of appetite, if they are not the more serious issues such as illness.
Regular dental health checks are one of the most important practices and can help prevent any infections or underlying issues worsen if they are checked frequently.
Feed buckets should always be cleaned after use and ensure when storing your feed it is kept fresh. Rodents often carry disease, so storage should be heavy duty as they can chew through bags and plastic. Also always use up the oldest feed first instead of pouring a new bag over the top when you are low.
Your feed ration might just be too much for them in one go, so you could split the feed up in to smaller meals. This could encourage them to clear up their feed and increase their appetite gradually.
If your horse’s teeth are in poor condition due to old age, they could struggle to chew so providing a wetter feed may help. Some owners have also found by adding warm water this increases the smell and flavours to entice them.
Grating some carrot in to the feed or adding feeds that have different flavours or herbs can help encourage them to eat.
For medication, we would advise having a small separate feed with the medication, just so this doesn’t put them off their main feed.
Consult your vet for veterinary advice & contact the British Horse Feeds team for feed advice.
Read more about our feeds here.