Ration balancer to reduce belly?

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Cupcake

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I've been trying to figure out if and what to add to my mini's diet. She started a year ago (at age 10 months) underweight and with a potbelly, put her on fresh grass, Total Equine feed (a forage based feed, alfalfa as the first ingredient), and grass hay. She gained weight, but also gained a LOT more belly. So per advice on this board I switched her to alfalfa only in a slow feeder bag plus the total equine, took her off grass and grass hay. She gained more belly bc she overate on alfalfa. Maybe because she was so underweight, she feels the need to overeat like there's no tomorrow... So I took her off total equine, put her on grass hay in the slow feeder, where she now takes 48 hours to eat the amount of grass hay that took her 24 hours in alfalfa to finish, so she eats a lot less amount (and more appropriate for her weight!), I give her some alfalfa in the AM and PM. she lost a lot of belly but still looks a little chubby, in order to reduce the belly more and make her look more like a mini horse and less like a chubby pony would a ration balancer be the right thing to feed? If so what brand and amount do you recommend?

She also has a white salt and a mineral salt block.
 

Marsha Cassada

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The recent JOURNAL had an interesting article about the nutritional value of hay for horses. Some hay can be digested fine by ruminants, and the same hay will not be good for a horse.

As to your questions, the article suggests having your hay analyzed for protein content. The extension office can analyze your hay. If you have a large supply of hay, it might be good to test it for nutrition. If it's poor horse quality, then you'll know more the direction you need to go for her supplement. Be sure you request for them to look for things like selenium content. Maybe they can check for heavy metals. If your local soil has selenium, you would choose a supplement that did not contain it. Our area naturally contains seliunium so I choose a supplement without it. $25 to have your hay supply analyzed isn't that bad.

Check out some of the non-brand supplements. They generally have excellent technical help and, I believe, their products are more pure than feed store brands.

I think most hay is so artificially fertilized that it can look like a million bucks but have the same nutritional value for a horse as macdonald's hamburger for us. It's also speculated that hay produced that way has heavy metals. Perhaps your horse needs to do a purge. I've never done that with a horse, but I think the idea has merit.

You're trying hard to do the right thing! Unfortunately nutrition is so complicated nowdays.
 

Reignmaker Miniatures

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The first thing to consider is what her build is really like. IS she a 'chubby pony' by nature and not meant to be a slender mini at all? So often I see people who are frustrated by trying to make a mini be both in good weight and look like an arabian or thoroughbred. If that is not what she is built like no diet will get her there. The other thing I would consider is that she arrived underweight and in poor condition. I would give her a probiotic to help correct the harm underfeeding did to her digestive system and then I would put her on a simple program of grass hay (a nice 80% grass 20% alfalfa mix would be even better)and a low starch/high protein ration balancer (if it included brewer's yeast that would be a bonus IMO). I would weigh the ration balancer to be sure she was getting the appropriate amount for her best weight and then I would make sure she had plenty of chance to exercise. The exercise should include hills and logs, if you are not able to give her turn out where she has a variety of terrain then I would work her over ground poles (you did say she's nearly 2 right) to encourage her to use those muscles in her bottom line and tuck up that belly.
 

ohmt

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The total amount if protein in her diet should be 14%.

If the grass hay is fine stemmed and good quality, you could feed her just that and give her a protein supplement (i like Enrich 32). That will keep it simple for you. I would start weighing her feed and maybe add a bit of beet pulp.
 

muffntuf

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Here is the article for those who do not have or receive the Journal:

What is of particular importance is the protein content - and the ADF is Acid Detergent Fiber. The ADF is what makes hay for goats or for horses.

Also hay analysis should include mineral analysis..

Hay 101

My Dad always said that hay makes the horse. I never gave it much thought until I entered into the realm of Shetland Ponies and Miniature Horses. Buying hay seems like it is easy enough to do, but what are you really spending your money on?

After an unsuccessful year of showing I wondered why my ponies and minis did not look like everyone else’s. I contacted the local feed store who then put me in touch with the area equine nutritionist. After touring the business and meeting the crew, he asked if he could look at the hay I was feeding the animals. He took out a curious tool from his pickup, which he explained was a hay bore and then he took samples from my hay supply. He put several samples in baggies and zipped them up and then proceeded to go out into the pasture and gather manure. When he came back he explained he was going to run a fecal count and rule out worms. I laughed and explained that I wormed every six weeks and I would be surprised if he found any. He just smiled at me, explained that it would take at least five business days to get all the tests back and then he would give me a call.

The Equine nutritionist called me three days later with some good news and some bad news. Of course I thought the bad news was that he had found worms in the manure he took, but to my surprise the fecal count came back with no visible worm count , he then said my hay supply was out of whack and that was the bad news.

So after a second of pondering that I finally asked what was out of whack with my hay – its hay, green and smells good, etc. etc. That was when I had my first hay lesson. Just because it is green, smells good is void of mold and mildew, doesn’t mean anything……

The equine nutritionist went on to explain - you see hay has components, just like other foodstuffs. Hay, for horses, is measured by Crude Protein and ADF. As he went into more detail, I wondered what ADF was, so I politely waited for an opening and asked him. ADF is Acid Detergent Fiber. He paused, I know he was waiting for me, and then he continued, then you should have a balance of calcium and phosophorus and various other minerals. He then said, “Your hay for Crude Protein measured below 7% and your ADF measured well above 45%.” I said “Aha”, as I was trying to grasp what he was saying. I got that the Crude Protein was very low, the magnesium and phosphorous would be out of whack too. But I didn’t understand that the ADF was way too high – and that would be the culprit that really made the hay out of whack.

He continued, “You see ADF or Acid Detergent Fiber needs to be below 30% for horses, the crude protein was on the borderline and if fed with a good pelleted grain, could be compensated for. But the ADF actually puts the hay in the ruminant family – which is really good for goats. This high of ADF does not allow horses to actually make use of any of the hay, it basically lies in their stomach and churns and gives no nutritional value.”

I had to think about that for awhile. That was my whole hay supply for the year. After what I am sure seemed an eternity to the equine specialist, I spoke up and asked what could I do? I had to offset the ADF and raise the crude protein to a better level. He then made several suggestions to me in which I wrote down.

I asked if he could give me what is good quality levels for hay and he provided this information to me. For average quality hay the Crude Protein should run around 9-11% and the ADF should be 30-37%. It didn’t matter what type hay, although alfalfa runs higher in protein than most other hays. Better quality hay for horses should have 12%-23% Crude Protein and ADF should be below 30%.

No amount of hay at the lower levels will fill a horse or pony up, they will continue to eat until they meet their nutritional needs. The more poor quality hay they eat, the larger their stomachs become and the more useless hay churns in their digestive tract.

If after four weeks of feeding hay to your ponies or minis, you find you have gigantic stomachs or growing stomachs, some ribs showing and the countenance of muscle deteriorating, I would suggest the culprit is the hay.

What can you do? You can have your hay tested with the local agricultural department. It doesn’t cost normally over $25.00. But if you have a feed company you work with, I would ask them to run the hay samples for you. If they are a good feed company, it often doesn’t cost you to do that, they want your business. They can also assist you then in finding the right feed(s) to help your miniatures and ponies stay in tip top shape.

My business practices hay analysis on a yearly basis because the hay comes in from different sources, I like to know what we have to work with and often it has saved the business in the long run.
 

Cupcake

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The recent JOURNAL had an interesting article about the nutritional value of hay for horses. Some hay can be digested fine by ruminants, and the same hay will not be good for a horse.

As to your questions, the article suggests having your hay analyzed for protein content. The extension office can analyze your hay. If you have a large supply of hay, it might be good to test it for nutrition. If it's poor horse quality, then you'll know more the direction you need to go for her supplement. Be sure you request for them to look for things like selenium content. Maybe they can check for heavy metals. If your local soil has selenium, you would choose a supplement that did not contain it. Our area naturally contains seliunium so I choose a supplement without it. $25 to have your hay supply analyzed isn't that bad.

Check out some of the non-brand supplements. They generally have excellent technical help and, I believe, their products are more pure than feed store brands.

I think most hay is so artificially fertilized that it can look like a million bucks but have the same nutritional value for a horse as macdonald's hamburger for us. It's also speculated that hay produced that way has heavy metals. Perhaps your horse needs to do a purge. I've never done that with a horse, but I think the idea has merit.

You're trying hard to do the right thing! Unfortunately nutrition is so complicated nowdays.
That last sentence of your post is VERY true! Extremely complicated the more one looks into it...

Thank you for all your answers, I recently saw something at TSC which I thought may be good to add to her diet? It has brewers yeast in it. Its called calf manna and is a supplement for more animals than just horses.

Here are some pics:

20130211_115633_zps422ec8f1.jpg


20130211_115646_zpsac3c8e2c.jpg


20130211_115713_zps19bc5530.jpg
 

Cupcake

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Here are some pics of her

321c168888955dd4a0612feab9ee0310_zpsb938b061.jpg


In November last year and this is pretty much what she looks like now

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She has lots of turnout and I also play with her and lunge her. Her pasture has various terrain, it's on a slope and has rocks in some places, I also have some poles in there and there are trees, so she gets lots of uphill/downhill, jumping around and running around trees.
 

Minimor

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Calf Manna is EXCELLENT. We have used it in the past, when we could get it--it has not always been available here. I am a big advocate of brewers yeast--it is good stuff for taking a belly off a young horse.
 

Cupcake

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This is one corner of the pasture which shows the terrain

20130116_150046_zpsa43d92ab.jpg


Calf Manna is EXCELLENT. We have used it in the past, when we could get it--it has not always been available here. I am a big advocate of brewers yeast--it is good stuff for taking a belly off a young horse.
How much would you recommend feeding? I'm estimating her to be about 250 lbs
 

Reignmaker Miniatures

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I think you may be over estimating her weight. I'm not sure if it is still there but there was a formula for finding your minis weight on the LB home page. Being closer to her actual weight (you may be right btw but its been my experience that most people over estimate when they first start with minis) will help with how much to feed and worming/medicine doses. From the pictures she doesn't look all that bad, mostly just lacking 'bloom' I've never tried CalfManna but I have heard good things about it. It is high in protein and has brewer's yeast so it is a feed I would be willing to try (I have never seen it in our stores tho) I agree with Minimor about brewer's yeast - I try to keep it as part of all my horses diets its included in their ration balancer, but when I mixed my own rations I always included it.

Also your pastures sound like they offer a nice variety of terrain and still have room for her to play so as long as she is allowed out there for a good long stretch every day she is probably getting all the exercise needs met. Considering how bad she looked in the beginning you have done a very good job with her. It may take a long time for her to completely recover from her initial poor care.
 
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Margo_C-T

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Calf Manna has been around for a LONG time! I don't know if the formulation has changed over time, but it has always been a well-regarded supplement for many types of animal!

It's been years since I've fed it, so don't recall the amount, but I imagine you could get onto the maker's website and find that info...?

Margo
 

Marsha Cassada

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A good indicator of health is hooves. You've had her long enough now for hoof growth to show her nutrition. What does her farrier say?

She is a very pretty girl and looks quite content! Maybe you are worrying too much.
 

Minimor

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It has been a long time since I used Calf Manna and I'm afraid I don't remember how much we fed--it doesn't take a lot. I would need to read the feeding instructions again--easy to figure from there.
 

Cupcake

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Thank you
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she gets her turnout twice a day, after breakfast for about 4-6 hours then I let herin for about 1-2 hrs and let her back out until dinner. She runs around quite a bit so she gets plenty of exercise. I play with her in the pasture or bring my great dane in there, she loves to run with someone else (although my dane is not having too much fun getting harrassed by her
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)

She weighed in at 90 lbs when I got her, 27". Now she's about 31/32" and I haven't had a chance to weigh her again, I didnt think she weighed that much either now but I asked everyone who has come by my house what their estimate is from vet to farrier (a mini owner herself) and other horse people and they all said 250-300. I dose her wormer/meds at 250.

I think I will go ahead with the calf manna and see how she does.
 

Cupcake

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A good indicator of health is hooves. You've had her long enough now for hoof growth to show her nutrition. What does her farrier say?

She is a very pretty girl and looks quite content! Maybe you are worrying too much.
Her feet grow like weeds! If you look in my past posts I had problems with a previous farrier who didn't trim enough of her heel but have since found a GREAT one and her feet are really hard also. She did have bots which still stemmed from when I got her (she was covered in bot eggs) but we got rid of those in December.
 

ohmt

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I would say she is no more than 200 lbs. My 32" yearling filly was 170 last year. My old broodmares who are a little bit heavier and in the 30"-33" range weigh 250-300 lbs and they are bigger than your filly (based on pictures).

There is a thread in the Best Of forum here with calculations that were made specifically for minis. They are fantastic and are almost always within 10 lbs for me.
 
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chandab

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The closest I have in size to your filly is my senior, slight-built 31" stallion; he consistently weighs in at 175# (give or take 5#), weighed on a scale. His "wife" is 32" and she's a little porker weighing in at 320# (pregnant weight). [My colts are younger, and haven't been weighed since August; the scale is under a snowbank.]

Those calculations Amanda mentioned can also be found in the LB info pages: http://www.lilbeginnings.com/info/misc/ part way down the page.
 

HGFarm

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Many of us here in AZ dont feed calf manna products any more- they now use soy instead and that is not very good for digestion. I would cut back on the grass and add a little more alfalfa. Every Mini I've seen on a grass diet, without a ton of supplements, has had a hay belly. I dont feed grass- and have never had the problem. Most folks in the SW only feed alfalfa- it's difficult to even find grass hay, and when you do, the quality is usually poor.
 

Cupcake

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As I mentioned I did feed her alfalfa only, she ate double the amount she should have and gained much more belly. So much that when I posted pics of her on here several breeders said she's pregnant!
 

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