I've searched a little and read some different posts about feeding ponies but I just wanted to get some opinions on the best options in my situation.
I haven't had a pony for a long time (about 15 years probably and he was a Caspian that practically lived off of fresh air). Yesterday I purchased a yearling Welsh pony colt as a little project and a buddy for my Thoroughbred gelding.
He's a bit on the thin side (I can feel his spine, hip bones are poking out a bit, and his chest is sunken in like there's no muscle or fat there). I'm going to assume some of that is just growing baby stuff because he has a pretty round belly but I'm going to worm him tomorrow and see how he does.
I have him in a 10 x 12 stall right now so as to protect his little butt from my ridiculous TB :lol:. However, even after they are turned out together all we have at the moment is a dirt lot since we've recently moved and the property wasn't set up for horses what so ever.
So I guess my question is what is the best thing to do with him in this situation? I'm feeding grass hay (timothy mix mostly)and giving him a couple of flakes a day (or at least today that's what happened :-)). I have SafeChoice feed but it's Perform because Buck (my TB) is a very hard keeper and this is the only thing I've found (near my house) that works to keep weight on him (not my first choice but I can't drive over an hour every time I need to buy feed). I don't really feel like the SafeChoice is a good feed for the pony but I've been giving him a bit (I don't even think a pound of it... probably a couple of hand fulls) twice a day just because he gets really excited about it and likes it.
The people I bought him from had a herd of about 13 ponies running on a very large pasture and was feeding them what appeared to be almost straight corn. The pony I purchased was low man on the totem pole so he was getting chased away from the food.
I guess I'm just really concerned about him foundering or something because I'm completely clueless after spending years with a TB who eats enough feed to support an elephant!
Feeding related founder/laminitis is not an issue with young growing horses so you shouldn't worry about that, at least at this stage in his life. I would start him on a junior feed, and probably try and have your hay tested to make sure its balanced to the needs of his growing body, add vitamin/mineral supplements based on the hay analysis and any deficiencies. Sometimes plain grass hay just isn't enough for youngsters though, and it is very important for healthy growth and development to make sure he is getting a balanced diet.
HOWEVER, OP, your pony sounds skinny. This individual does not sound like a pony that you need to worry about foundering just yet. A good worming and free choice hay might be your best bet for now, with a VERY small grain feed to add the vitamins/minerals your pony needs.
Just keep an eye on his weight and make sure he doesn't get TOO fat - and don't give him too much protein. Too much protein can cause founder even in horses that are not overweight. Mum used to have a QH gelding that could be absolutely grossly obese and sound as a bell, but soon as you gave him anything with too much protein in it [alfalfa, grain, etc] he went footsore.
Young horses DO need higher protein levels than adult horses but you really don't want to overdo it. I highly recommend FeedXL.
Feed related founder is almost never associated with that age group. I can see a young horse foundering with some excessive feeding or accidental binge eating (got out and ate whole bag of feed. or ate a toxic plant) But not within a feeding regimen including a junior feed *fed at a reasonable rate* free choice hay and loose minerals to balance the hay out.
I do agree with everything else you said though.
The only feed stores where I live are Orscheln (like a Farm and Home Supply I guess) and MFA (which I haven't found anything there as far as good horse feeds). I purchased a bag of SafeChoice Special Care for him today. It says it's 14% protein has no corn in it and had a much lower sugar content then the other feeds (still 4% though).
Apparently I've never looked at the sugar content on the Perform before but it's 8%!! Or at least it was on the bag that I looked at today lol!
Make sure you're keeping starch in mind as well as sugar. Sugar + Starch = NSC. Safe Choice Special Care has 11% starch along with 4% sugar, so has a 15% NSC. That's an OK level for most horses.
Also be sure to regularly check to be sure you're still feeding him enough- he's going to be growing pretty quickly and you want to make sure he's getting the right amount for his age & weight! :-)
Also- we demand pics! :D
This picture I just took today... I think the people that owned our house before us had cows or... something but the panels are going to have to go it drives me nuts LOL
I think this was taken in the summer maybe, this is the picture they sent me of him before I purchased him :wink:
I would start by feeding him as much hay as he will eat.
Since ponies generally get over weight quite easily, I would start him on a good quality RB (Ration balancer) such as Buckeye Gro N Win or Triple Crown 30%. I, personally, feed the buckeye GnW and my horses have all done very well on it. It is for horses 3months and up.
Follow the feeding directions on the bag. It lists a 12month old 700lb horse to get 2.5-3.5lbs per day. I don't imagine your guy weighs 700 lbs so I would put him on 1.5-2lbs daily. You would need to get a weight on him to be sure.
I think you'll find that free choice hay and good nutrition and he will gain weight accordingly. =)
still can develop in foals too, agree with blue eyed n verona. unfortuntly youngsters can indeed suffer laminitis from feed related probs and a high corn diet is asking for problems! as with humans, insulin resistance is a common prob that tends to develop later in life due to long termprobs... ut sounds like what you're feeding is ok. i too would start him on free choice hay and oonly supp feed for balanced nutrition - another vote for feedxl.com :-) - and would feed more 'hard feed' only on an as need basis if he failed to do well. he doesnt look bad at all in that pic but a gangly colt can feel/look as you describe at various stages of his development without being too thin.
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I just want to comment on feedxl. I used it. It was a complete waste of money for me. It didn't tell me anything I didn't already know. But, I'm quite educated on equine nutrition, so maybe that's why.
I'd much rather just consult with a real equine nutritionist if I had questions.
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