First time mini horse owner :) Winter is coming...

Discussion in 'Miniature Horse Forum' started by wittleacres, Nov 1, 2012.

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  1. Nov 1, 2012 #1

    wittleacres

    wittleacres

    wittleacres

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    Hello everyone, I became the proud mama of 3 mini horses early this spring. So far everything is going great! Now that Fall is here and Winter is on its way I could use some advice on feeding and shelter. They are in a 1.5 acre pasture at all times with a big run in for shelter. They have done great on pasture only all spring and summer (no feed or hay of any kind) So I guess my questions are 1. will they be warm enough with just a bedded run in ? 2. Do mini's mind being out in the snow? 3.what kind of hay and how much? 4. will they need some kind of grain? let me know what your fall and winter program is. Thanks:)
     
  2. Nov 1, 2012 #2

    wingnut

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    I would guess it's likely sufficient shelter. The first winter we had our horses (2009-2010), we had 3 blizzards. During the actual storms, we put them in their stalls (2 per 12x6 stalls) with both of the Dutch doors closed. It made us feel better knowing they had this level of shelter, but I know others feel that what you currently have is sufficient as well, as long as they can get out out of the weather and especially any blowing wind.

    Here's a pic of the one building we had at the time (a converted run-in) taken during one of those blizzards. We now have a second one in similar proportions that faces this one:

    [​IMG]

    Here's how we often found three of the four that winter, even without the stall doors closed:

    [​IMG]

    We were using hay that was too course for them (we were so "green" at this whole horse thing, let alone miniature horse thing) that they wasted roughly 1/2 of every bale and it simply became bedding.

    As to whether they like snow? Just like any other animal, some do, some don't...must couldn't give a flying fig either way. It's just another day to them!

    Case in point:

    [​IMG]

    This was back in the day when we allowed the dogs in with the horses. Too much horse manure eating not to mention the safety concerns (none of them were too bright when it came to understanding that they needed to stay out of the horses' way) led us to reroute their in-ground fencing system so they can't get into the horse area.

    ETA: We now use an alfalfa/grass mix hay for everyone. I have taken the three younger mares off of any grain (since the spring) but will be giving them a supplement feed (all supplement, no calories) starting this weekend just for my piece of mind. Our hard keeper is the only one with consistent grain feeding and she's on Purina's miniature feed along with a rice bran pellet.
     
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  3. Nov 1, 2012 #3

    wittleacres

    wittleacres

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    Thanks so much for the info Wingnut ! Love the pics:)

    So how do you feed hay? ...portions or free choice?
     
  4. Nov 1, 2012 #4

    wingnut

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    I put it out in portions throughout the day. Someone has always been home full time since we got the horses (first my husband, now me). During the colder months, I "free" feed them in that I give them quite a bit each day. I can tell if its enough by how quickly they eat it or how much (if any) is left when I go back out for the next round. They get a minimum of 2% of their combined body weight per day. Now we also are using "nibble nets" that slow their eating down just to keep them from being bored as much as anything.

    The colder it is the more they get. When we have warmer spells (40 or above) I'll pull back a bit. As I learned on this board, that eating of hay is what fuels their "furnaces" and keeps them warm.

    And I only blanket the hard keeper and only if I see she's on the verge of shivering or I find her shivering. Again, I follow the very sage advice found here that the "loft" in their winter coats provides excellent insulation. Only when they are soaked and unable to get dry, thereby causing their coat to be flattened to their bodies, does an intervention need to be made. I have blankets if needed but I try not to rush to put them on anyone.
     
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  5. Nov 1, 2012 #5

    targetsmom

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    Your minis will probably do just fine in your run- in as long as they can get out of the wind and weather. We tacked a tarp in the upper part of the opening of ours to keep out the wind as much as possible. Instead of putting blankets on (although it is always a good idea to have some in case someone gets cold) feed more hay, and use more bedding. If you aren't able to give them hay several times a day, to simulate their natural grazing you might want to feed hay in slow feeder hay nets. These are not regular hay nets but have smaller holes so that the hay lasts a lot longer. They are also safer than regular hay nets. Since your minis are already on pasture, they are used to eating "free choice" so you might want to just continue that with the hay. Some horses will overeat, but some won't and the slow feeder will help. How old are your minis? Younger, growing ones may need some extra protein in the form of grain. If you have young ones, I would find out what brand of grain you can get in your area and ask the feed store (or your vet) for contact information for the nutritionist for that brand. Their advice is free and can be very helpful as they will know what is needed in YOUR area (e.g. if it is a selenium deficient area). Good luck.
     
  6. Nov 2, 2012 #6

    shorthorsemom

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    I have a bedded run in shed. Works great so far. I use shavings. My run in shed has wall shelter on all sides so no matter what direction it is blowing they have protection. After hurricane sandy I admit to taking 9 wheelbarrow loads of wet shavings out..horses did just fine. My shelter is surrounded by a pea gravel paddock for dry lot loafing and for when we get ice and footing is bad. I have a modified goat feeder for my hay. I feed fine grass hay and some supplement and no grain. My guys are not blanketed and they are turning into mini yaks for winter. Ps they love snow..especially big drifts.. if I can find a photo and get help posting I could show you a shot of my mini snow plows barreling through deep drifts. They love it. I only free choice hay when it is brutal conditions.. under normal conditions I feed portionsfrequently. I also feed ground flax with my 32% supplement. My hard keeper on occasion gets a top dress of a pellet which has beet pulp and othergood stuff in it.
     
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  7. Nov 2, 2012 #7

    wittleacres

    wittleacres

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    thanks for the info everyone [​IMG] it realy put my mind at ease.

    Shorthorsemom...I'd love to see those pics!!!
     
  8. Nov 2, 2012 #8

    LAminiatures

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    Welcome to the miniature horse world!

    When I got into the minis people on the forum told me to feel their bodies as the thick winter coats makes them look kind of chubby and fuzzy. Not always true. So feel them all over to make sure they are holding their weight during the cold months.
     
  9. Nov 2, 2012 #9

    kay56649

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    I see you use the hay nets! Where can you get them? Do they work? How much are they? We waste so much hay, whether it's roundbales or square bales, they find someway to waste it! Do you like the nets, or are there any bad things about them?
     
  10. Nov 2, 2012 #10

    shorthorsemom

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    I tried hay nets and my guys pulled them down and pawed them so I had an amish neighbor make me a special feeder for my guys. When it is too awful out I throw the hay in the run in shed behind the wall. I oogle the busy snackers but haven't tried one yet. Will try to get Kim crayonbox to post the photos for me. I laughed out loud when I looked at them today so will try to share with you. Stay tuned...
     
  11. Nov 2, 2012 #11

    wingnut

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    I use the "Busy Snacker" by Busy Horse. You can google to find them. I hang them on large heavy duty eye screws (screwed into the stall wall) using dual end snap clips. Using this method, my horses can pull all they want and they haven't been able to pull them down. My horses all easily figured out how to work the nets and are quite adept at getting out all the hay. Heck, I wish they made them with even smaller holes! LOL!
     
  12. Nov 3, 2012 #12

    targetsmom

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    Here is a Busy Snacker being used in the winter, attached so that horses on both sides of the fence can reach it. The holes are too small for hooves to get caught in and it does not collapse when empty like a regular hay net does. It was mostly for the horse on this side of the fence but hung so he could have company.

    [​IMG]

    The mini wearing the blanket had been partially clipped for a medical procedure.
     
  13. Nov 3, 2012 #13

    wingnut

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    Here's one my girls with our busy snacker. It also helps you see how we hang them. I don't always feed them from these. Roughly one feeding out of 3 or 4 is put in here. I hang up 4 at a time.

    [​IMG]

    Here's a closeup of the eye screw and dual clip:

    [​IMG]
     
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  14. Nov 3, 2012 #14

    Miniv

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    A run-in shed, facing AWAY from the direction of winter storms is usually fine. We don't blanket unless absolutely needed, which is either when a horse is ill or has gotten soaked and the wind is blowing. They will be shivering. Another way to check core body temp is to put your bare hand up in the "arm-pit". If it's not warm - even if they aren't shivering, they need assistance.

    Once the snow falls we feed hay to our pastured group. And those on dry lot we end up doubling their hay by December. Plenty of hay is the most important way to keep a horse warm.
     
  15. Nov 4, 2012 #15

    wittleacres

    wittleacres

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    I must have a couple Busy Snackers.....where can I find them?

    Do they hold enough to keep horses busy for a few hours?

    Should They hang in the pasture or the run in? (for winter)

    Thanks so much everyone:)
     
  16. Nov 4, 2012 #16

    targetsmom

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    I would Google Busy Snacker or else "slow hay feeders". I think that was how I found mine. I had one (a different brand) in Max's stall that held more hay and lasted overnight (but remember, he was sick) and the one pictured to hang outside. I hung the Busy Snacker on a bucket strap wrapped around the fence and the Snacker has rings to attach the snap. So it is also very easy to move the Busy Snackers around. Some people even put them on the ground but I liked the idea of hanging them fairly low so the horses's heads were in a natural position for eating. They do come in different sizes and remember, they are really made for big horses, so some slow feeders (like the one we used in the stall) hold a LOT of hay.

    They were not usually QUITE that low - the horses are standing on several inches of snow in that photo!
     
  17. Nov 4, 2012 #17

    wingnut

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    The makers of Busy Snacker also make a very large sized one that has the same hole size. It holds nearly 1/2 of my 30lb bales. My problem is that if I put just that out, I have to block my 4 yr old from it because she doesn't share well with others.

    If you google Busy Snacker and busy horse, you'll find the site with the bags like I have. There are several manufactures of "slow feeder nets/bags available" but I like this bag very much.
     
  18. Nov 4, 2012 #18

    Marty

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    Don't wait any longer:

    1. Do whatever you have to do to your shelter to block any wind or drafts. Be 100% sure you don't have one that is a squater, keeping the others out.

    2. Stock up on good hay now before you can't find any. They need hay to keep them warm. As long as they are chewing they should stay warm enough

    3. Beet pulp mash. Around here, its a must have because it helps keep them hydrated. As long as they have water in their system, it should help prevent any impaction. Which leads us to #4.

    4. Warm water is a must. If they don't drink, they will colic on you. They do not like drinking cold water so you need to make it warm somehow for them.

    5. Mine are stalled at night and also during any kind of bad weather. Mother Nature is one nasty witch but I do like to do daily turn outs no matter what so they can move around freely and help digest and run off some steam. The exception to that would be if there was ice on the ground, then its no way because I don't need any broken legs around here. Slipping on ice already caused two bowed tendons so if that's the case, they don't go out until its gone.

    6. Be sure your fences are very safe and cannot let stuff like stray dogs get it at them.

    Best wishes and hope you all stay warm!
     
  19. Nov 5, 2012 #19

    wittleacres

    wittleacres

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    All great advice!

    I ordered 2 of the Busy Snacker nets and also a heated 5 gal bucket.

    All we can find is grass hay....is this ok?
     
  20. Nov 5, 2012 #20

    targetsmom

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    Many of us feed grass hay, and it is fine, just lower in protein than most alfalfa. What I do (even with heated buckets in most stalls and feeding soaked beet pulp at twice a day feedings) is take everyone some soaked alfalfa cubes at bedtime (soaked in warm water) and then top off their buckets with very warm water. This will help keep the non-heated buckets from freezing (we insulate any buckets for horses we don't trust with electric cords!) and give a warm drink to the others. The alfalfa with its high calcium level should help buffer any stomach acid for the overnight. Of course, they also get a little hay at bedtime too, so their stomachs will start the night with something in them. Of course, using a Busy Snacker overnight would help even more.

    Um, yes, our horses are pretty spoiled....
     

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