Tag: feeding horses

Feeding the ‘Good Doer’

For all the horse owners that have ponies or miniatures that you struggle to keep the weight off then this information is for you. With over 22 + years’ experience in owning and breeding show quality miniature ponies & horses and Welsh cobs I have learnt so much about weight management. Along with my Equine Nutrition qualifications, pasture management and focus on natural diets I would love to share my knowledge, so you do not need to spend years battling with weight control with your ponies.

Firstly, you need to look at what you are feeding now and work out where the calories are coming from and reduce where possible. Let’s take a closer look & check out the alternatives.

  1. Pasture – this will vary depending where you live and what type of grasses your horse is grazing on. Cool season C3 grasses (like rye grass & clover) are higher in feed quality and unfortunately sugar (fructan). Warm season and tropical grasses C4 are usually lower in sugar, but can contain oxalates.

What to feed good doers? Preferred grass & hay for good doers included Rouges grass, teff hay, lucerne hay (in moderation as its fattening), timothy hay, diget grass or some native grasses. Straw is also a option for roughage, headed ryegrass straw, barley or oaten straw (no grain) are also options so your horse has something to chew on.

When to graze? Early morning is best, 2 hours before sunrise and 2/3 hours after sunrise. Why you ask? The sun causes the carbohydrates/sugar in the grass to rise as the plants photosynthesize during the day and are the highest late afternoon and evening. Then the plant uses these sugars up overnight for growth. If you are restricting your horses grass intake, then confining at night with low sugar hay to eat is the best.

  1. Hay – Is your hay low NSC? Safe hays for horses include Roges Grass, diget grass, teff hay and lucerne hay. Please note Lucerne hay is also fattening & high in protein and some horses can scour or get colic if they do not tolerate lucerne – limit the amounts for good doers. The high protein can also cause nitrate accumulations.

The quantity of hay is also important, the horse needs to consume around 1.5% to 2% (average 1.7%) of their bodyweight daily of dry feed (this includes pasture, hard feeds and hay). This is around 1.7kg per 100kg of bodyweight) For example a 500kg horse would need around 8.5kg of feed per day (dry weight).  If your horse is on pasture, this intake will vary depending on the pasture quality, poor may only contrite as little as 2kg per day or good/excellent pasture can be around 11kg per day. If your horse is on little grass or no grass, then offering the hay in slow feeder nets can help spread the intake over the day/night.

  1. Hard feeds – What is in the feeds you are giving? Are you feeding high calorie feeds or grains? If you have a fat or well rounded horse or pony then you should not be feeding pellets, processed feeds, grains or molasses base feeds – yes even the ones that have the laminitis ‘tick’ on the bag. When this came out the level of NCS to qualify was 40% NSC & we now know that you need to keep the NSC under 12% if possible, & under 10% for laminitis prone horses and ponies. Check the label very carefully, if it contains fillers or ‘mill run’ or molasses / sugar or any grain then look at removing that from your ‘good doers’ diet.

What to feed? A basic diet that contains plenty of fiber (pasture, hay, chaff, quality soy, copra), correct level of protein and balanced vitamins and minerals like Belinda’s Custom Loose Lick or Belinda’s Amazing Minerals Plus. Remember to look at feeding the 1.5% of bodyweight of dry matter per day.

  1. Oils? These add fat to the diet and not needed in most cased for fat horses. Exception being horses on no grass may need omegas.

In conclusion taking a close look at amounts and other feeds that might be contributing to your horses expanding weight. Never starve the weight off your horse, this can have dire consequences like hyperlipemia, ulcers, colic and other health issues. Exercise and movement are also important to keep the body functioning and help shift weight.

Please remember when you horse is on a ‘restricted’ diet you are offering Belinda’s Loose Lick ad-lib as your horse still needs quality vitamins and minerals to help balance a bland or basic diet. A balanced diet helps your horses body function correctly and contributes to a shiny coat and healthy hooves along with a healthy immune system to fight of any ailments.

Belinda Atkinson – Qualified Animal Nutritionist

 

Feeding senior horses a natural balanced diet

When looking at your senior horses diet there is a few things to check & rule out first.
– Dental care
– Worm burden
– Pain issues (bodywork)
– Environment (companion or availability of feed/pastures, low stress)
– Health (Cushing’s disease or arthritis are common in horses over 18 years old & can affect younger horses as well – seek veterinary advice on diagnosing these conditions).
– Regular feeding 2 (to 4) x a day depending on situation. Ad-lib hay or grass 24/7. Guide is 2% of your horses body weight per day (10kg for a 500kg horse).
If you have addressed and checked all of the above, then you can look at adjusting the diet to fit your horses age, situation and horse’s health. The poor gut function along with teeth issues can contribute to poor condition and the need to feed larger quantities of feed to an aged horse.
We have several older horses here, Beau (in photo – has no front teeth left, molars ok) is 39 years old this year (2020), we also have a 23 year old retired broodmare (that’s is insulin resistant, has arthritis and mild Cushing’s symptoms), 22 year old stallion (healthy), and a few miniature ponies in their late teens.

Senior horse feeding

Winter coat and condition on Beau 39 year old pony

This is what I feed to my old horses & it varies during the year depending on the availability of pasture and pasture quality. I will give you a couple of options that I adjust during the year.
Winter feeding for older horses
Quality pasture over 5cm in high available 24/7 if your horse can not eat / chew hay. Or ad-lib soft type hay like mixed pasture hay. If your older horse needs weight management then use a large hole slow feeder hay net.
Winter hard feed – fed twice a day
Copra & maxisoy (soaked to a mash with warm water)
Chaff selected on your horses requirements (my old horse has oaten chaff & option for Cushing’s low sugar chaff like rye Straw chaff or wheaten chaff
Whole lupins (soaked till soft)
Canola meal (to add fat)
Belinda’s Amazing Minerals Plus dose in feed & also Belinda’s Loose Lick ad-lib.  Note; BAM+ will help with nutrient absorption, gut health and the availability of the vitamins and minerals in the supplement – great for older or growing horses.
That’s it, balanced and keeps weight on during winter – KIS (keep it simple) is my feeding belief. This diet will also apply in Summer when we have no green grass & may add lucerne chaff as well. Please note some old horses or Cushing’s horses get scours or cannot tolerate lucerne (some will get colic) so be careful.
For Spring and times of adequate grass – only feed once a day if your horses weight is good
Copra (soaked)
Chaff – oaten
Belinda’s Amazing Minerals Plus in feed & Belinda’s Loose Lick ad-lib
This is what works for my horses in my situation and amounts are adjusted depending on body condition.

Photos of our 22 year old stallions top line and shiny winter coat & 23 year old broodmare that’s IR (suspected Cushing’s)


For customised diet advice, book a nutrition consult today. Full natural affordable diet plan tailored to your needs just $110 – you may just save $100’s off your feed costs & have a healthy horse (less vet bills).