Drafts, Donkeys, Ponies & Mules Nutritionist Q&A

Customer: “I live in central WI have two class B miniature horses. I can’t find a lot of information regarding healthy feeding of miniature horses and the extent of the vitamins and supplements they should receive. I was hoping that you could help. They are currently on hay and Nutrena SafeChoice Perform horse feed with a small scoop of black oil sunflower seeds.”
Answer by Ph.D. Equine Nutritionist, Kelsey Johnson Nonella: There is not a lot of information out there on feeding miniature horses. A good rule of thumb is to feed them products designed for horses scaled down to their weight. However, miniature horses and ponies to do not need products high in starch and carbohydrates as they are very prone to metabolic disorders. You are doing good by feeding feeds that are low in starch and higher in fats to help avoid metabolic disorders. Wisconsin is known for being selenium, zinc, and copper deficient. Adding Horse Guard will help to ensure all your minis’ vitamin and mineral deficiencies are taken care of. Horse Guard is to be fed 2 oz per 1000 lb horse, so if your minis weight 200 lbs you would want to fed 1/5 of the scoop that is contained in the bag.
Customer: “Is there any dosage difference for mules? Also, what kind of salt supplement would I use when using Horse Guard or is it necessary? Thank you.”<
Answer by Ph.D. Equine Nutritionist, Kelsey Johnson Nonella: Mules have very similar vitamin and mineral requirements to horses. Therefore, there is no need to change the dose for mules, just feed as directed. When feeding Horse Guard, we recommend a plain white salt block. Salt is still because salt intake can fluctuate so much day to day. Thank you for choosing Horse Guard.
Customer:  "Hi! My mini pregnant donkey is on 1 oz Horse Guard. Can Horse Guard be given instead of a Mare and Foal grain supplement in the 3rd trimester? She is getting about a flake of orchardgrass hay and a cup of alfalfa pellets per day. She’s 7 1/2 months pregnant now. Her pre-pregnancy weight was about 350 lbs. Thanks!”
Answer by Ph.D. Equine Nutritionist, Dr. Kelsey Johnson Nonella: Pregnant mares in the last trimester have special needs, especially in regards to the Calcium/Phosphorus ratio. The Calcium: Phosphorus ratio of orchard grass averages 1.5:1 and alfalfa averages 5.3:1. These numbers are just estimates, and to be sure that she is receiving the correct ratio you would need to do a feed analysis. However, using the averages, feeding the two forages together you should be close to balancing her Ca:P ratio to a good level for a pregnant mare. These forages along with 1 ounce of Horse Guard should ensure that she is receiving everything she needs for her and her baby. Good luck and thank you are taking great care of your donkey!
Customer: “We have been feeding our horses this: 33-year-old Welch Cobb pony (500) Super Gain (1 scoop) plus Senior Equine (9 oz..), 1 lb of Rice Bran, 1 scoop of Equizyme, 1 scoop of CW Continuous Wormer, Simplifly and 7 lbs of grass hay. (I don’t see any spit balls of hay). He does get his teeth looked at and filed regularly. The Super Gain worked at first, but, over the last year, he has lost maybe 100 lbs. And our 23-year-old Miniature horse (220 lbs) 8oz. of Rice Bran, 1/2 scoop of Equizyme, 1/2 scoop of CW Continuous Wormer, Simplifly & 3 lbs of grass hay. He has had recurring bouts of Laminitis which started about 15 years ago from hanging with the big horses on pastures. Just found out our employee was giving Senior Equine to him without permission which most likely caused the last bout of Laminitis. He is no longer eating Sr. Equine. What can I do to help our Welch Cobb gain 100 lbs and our mini gain 30 lbs.?”
Answer by Ph.D. Equine Nutritionist, Kelsey Johnson Nonella: Sorry to hear about your horses. As they age it can get harder and harder to keep weight on them. I would recommend keeping them on the super weight gain, and adding Glow to their program. Glow is extruded soybeans. It will provide them protein and fat to provide them more energy without any added carbohydrates. Glow will help to prevent laminitis. The energy-dense soybeans will be a safe energy source for them. If I can answer any other questions for you I would love to.
Customer: “I have two mini’s both of which have been foundered (one of them has cushings). I’m concerned about whether I’m feeding them correctly. I’d been told by a farrier to feed them just grass hay but I've also included in their daily ration a little apple and vitamins. I'm wondering if this diet is too resisted as they always seem to be hungry and a little lethargic. Recently I read on the internet that insulin-resistant horses should be eating Timothy or Orchard grass, low-fat, low-carb., high protein pellets and some grass. As this goes against everything I was told I’m looking for advice on what would be a good safe nutritious diet to feed them.”
Answer by Ph.D. Equine Nutritionist, Kelsey Johnson Nonella: Minis are very prone to metabolic disorders. They typically only need grass hay, with at least 8% protein which timothy and orchard grass both have, and a vitamin-mineral supplement. Depending on where you are located, there are warm-season grass hays, such as brome, that only provide 4-6% protein. I would recommend feeding them Horse Guard, adjusted to their weight, and allowing them access to a high-quality grass hay ad libitum. If they gain too much weight on free-choice hay, you may have to cut back on their hay consumption. The vitamin-mineral will provide them with nutrients that are typically lacking in hay, and is especially important for the mini with cushings. A few slices of apple are ok, however, they do contain a lot of sugar so feed them very sparingly. As far as green grass, AVOID it. Green grass is high in sugar and is not recommended for horses that have foundered.
Customer: “I assume the dosage would be the same as a horse for the mule is that correct?”
Answer by Ph.D. Equine Nutritionist, Kelsey Johnson Nonella: You are correct in the fact that the dosage is the same for a mule as a horse that weighs the equivalent.
Customer: “My draft mare had an episode last night where she was unable to move her right front leg at all! I was a little disturbing for me so I started researching again the needed levels of Vitamin E , selenium magnesium oxide. It’s overwhelming!! Is Horse Guard supplying her with what she needs in those areas? The bag says nutrient per # but I am not feeding her a pound of this stuff daily? Help!!”
Answer by Ph.D. Equine Nutritionist, Kelsey Johnson Nonella: Sorry to hear about your mare. Horse Guard is providing her all the organic selenium and Vitamin E that she needs. In 2 ounces, it provides 3 mg of organic selenium. So, depending on how big she is you would adjust the dose accordingly. So, if she weighs 1500 lbs feed her a scoop and a half. FDA requires us to list ingredients per lb. If I can answer any more questions just let me know.
Customer: “I would like to know if you could tell me how much protein should a growing yearling miniature should be getting? I’m wondering if I am not giving him enough protein in his grain and that could potentially be a reason for the bloated belly look. He gets worked for about 30 mins a day (15 mins trot/canter both directions) and a nice walk after to cool down. yet he doesn’t have much muscle build-up. So wondering if maybe he isn’t getting proper protein to use to build muscle up. I think that’s my main concern to make sure I’m feeding the correct amount of grain and hay. Please let me know what you b would recommend feeding a yearling mini that is about 34 inches around 225lbs.”
Answer by Ph.D. Equine Nutritionist, Kelsey Johnson Nonella: Although there are not requirements for miniatures, it is recommended to use horse requirements as guidelines. For yearlings, researchers recommend 14-16% protein diets. Your current grain is 14% protein. I wouldn’t increase the amount due to the miniature tendency to founder. I would recommend selecting hay high in protein and feeding him 1.5-2% of his body weight in hay. You consider adding an extruded soybean product, a high protein feed, that will also ensure he is receiving adequate amounts of lysine. Good luck.
Customer: “I have a 1 year 2-month-old miniature horse that I rescued from a kill auction when he was 6 months old. My daughters show him at horse shows. I have a couple questions and concerns I was hoping I could get some answers or some insight from you, I just want to make sure I am feeding him properly and not depriving him of some nutrition. I am currently feeding Tribute Kalm N Ez plus GC. Which was recommended to me from some other friends that own Miniature horses. My little man has a hay belly look to him, He has been dewormed and I do an egg count on him every couple months. He is currently being fed 1/4 cup of grain twice a day and fed 1/2 flake 3 times a day. He is turned out in a pasture with a pony buddy that has very limited grass in it so they do have some hay thrown out in pasture with them as well. Due to him being shown I have been trying to figure out a way to get the pregnant look to go away, so any advice is welcomed. I was told by some people that he has the hay belly because he eats to much hay (before I started making u bags with half a flake of hay, barn staff would throw in about 1-2 flakes per feeding) and other people telling me he is not getting enough protein, I feed him Dac Orange vitamin and mineral supplement along with his grain. I would like to get advice from a more educated person that knows what’s best for them, I’m really desperate to make sure I am feeding him properly as we would really like the nice tummy tuck on him versus looking pregnant. He does get light training daily which ranges from arena work with setting up for halter class and trotting to some days of cantering/trotting for 30 mins in the round pen.”
Answer by Ph.D. Equine Nutritionist, Kelsey Johnson Nonella: It sounds like you are working on hard to provide your miniature horse the best for his health. The low starch grain is a good choice for him, as they do have a tendency to develop metabolic disorders. As far as the hay belly goes, consider the type of hay that he is being fed, it could be that if it is low in protein (under 10% CP) that it is part of the cause to the hay belly. Typically, wherever you buy your hay they can provide you with the Crude Protein analysis. He might also be an easy keeper and it would push towards the limit feeding like you have switched to. The thing to be careful about is that equines are supposed to graze continuously throughout the day. By feeding him three times a day you are helping him. Also, be careful to not let him have too much access to green grass because miniatures are very susceptible to laminitis. For your vitamin/mineral supplement I would recommend switching to Horse Guard. It will provide your miniature horse with more selenium which aids in immunity, and overall health. It is supplemented on a weight basis, one ounce per 500 lbs and a 2-ounce scoop is included. So, for example, if your miniature weighs 250lbs you would feed him 1/4 of a scoop.
Customer: “I have a 300lb miniature horse. Ferrier suggested I try hoof guard to help him grow more hoof. Is this safe for mini’s? And what would the dosage be?”
Answer by Ph.D. Equine Nutritionist, Kelsey Johnson Nonella: Hoof guard would be great for your mini. Dosage for 1000 lb horse is 2 oz, so you would want to your 300 lb mini 1/3 of a scoop. Good luck! It is an amazing product.

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