''Recipe for disaster''

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Helicopter

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Rabbitsfiz in another post mentioned ''recipe for disaster'' which is my current feeding regime.

My herd is on pasture 3 hours in the morning then on a dry lot for the rest of the day and night, a nibble of hay mid afternoon and lots of slow feeder hay nets at night.

I've been reading about how having hay in front of them 24/7 in slow feeders so they will NEVER EVER EVER run out (not even for a minute) will eventually transition them back to a more natural way of eating (ie not stuffing themselves silly because they think there will never be another feed coming).

Up to a one month transition period was common before they would step away from the nets and resume a natural horsey way of eating.

It's the transition period I'm worried about. Several of my 23 ponies and 4 donkeys are hugely FAT and I fear imminent explosion if they were left to their own devices with unlimited hay.

I hate the way I am making them live at the moment.

Has anyone tried this transition with minis.
 

chandab

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I know you are going into your summer months, so it might be harder to try it right now, as they more easily put on weight in the summer when they aren't eating to stay warm, but it might still be doable. If you can separate the hugely fat ones and keep them on the same current feeding regime, then try to transition with the "normal" ones now; and wait til next winter to start the fatties on the transition when the extra feed will go to keeping them warm rather than just adding to their chubbiness.

I do monitor my horses intake in summer, but have put whole round bales in front of them in the middle of winter when they need the hay to stay warm. I am using slow feeder nets for several of them, well at least part of their meal, they get to have about half just free choice, and the rest goes in the slow feeder net; which seems to slow the net destruction.
 

Reignmaker Miniatures

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I've been feeding my minis a restricted diet for many years with no harm to them. In summer my horses get about 3 hours on grass in the morning and then a light snack of hay mid afternoon and at bedtime they get aprox. 1% of their ideal body (some get slightly more) weight in hay plus a ration balancer pellet at the recommended amount per lb of body weight. Since I changed to a carefully controlled diet (which is far more inconvenient to me than free choice feeding would be) my horses more active than they were. My vet uses this feeding regime to help advise new mini owners in her practice and I have no more obesity, crestyness or prelaminitic episodes. Some are still not show ring weight and could both drop some pounds (and use some muscle) but I am happier with the way they look than I was in the past. In winter, I like chandab, do on occasion offer free choice and will at least offer a great deal more hay to help them stay warm. All my hay is fed in slow feeder nets and the horses are never more than 8 hours (bedtime to morning feed is about 9 hours and it takes more than 1 hour to clean up the night feed) between meals. I have never had any health issues and in fact other than one mare who for a couple of years would colic every time she ovulated I have not had colics nor any ulcer symptoms in my herd. I don't think you should not feel badly for monitoring your horses diet and trying to help them remain at a reasonable weight. Obesity is a dangerous thing and minis are more than a little prone to it. JMO
 

disneyhorse

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Here, I live in a city and I don't know anyone around here who lets horses graze for even an hour... We don't have any sort of pasture. Horses are very lucky if they even have a dry lot for turnout daily. 95% of horses I know here get a flake of hay twice daily, and not usually any grain. The hay is not in any sort of net or slow feeder. They seem to get along for decades just fine.

Use common sense, and do the best you can with what you've got.

Exercise is a very crucial ingredient to keeping horses fit, not fat... And it's often overlooked. People just want to restrict food. But 20 minutes of trotting daily will do wonders, even if it's putting the herd in a small arena and chasing them all around until they start breaking a good sweat.
 

Marty

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I'm like Fizzy as I try to keep things as natural as possible if and when I can.

Keep in mind, everyone has different type and styles of horses who are different sizes with different individual needs as well as the difference in pasture grass and hay. You are talking about different counties also so what is native in your grass and works for one may not work for another.

I have to do what is right for my horses as individuals and that may not be suitable for anyone elses. I can't copy

anyone else's program as have to rely on what happens here, on my property as no one knows them better than me.

For instance:

I have too much very rich grass in spring and summer. I have two horses that will blow up badly and dangerously so I do use my dry lot accordingly. Others can stay out longer and not gain an ounce. Good luck to you.
 

Little Wolf Ranch

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We keep big round hay bales in covered round bale feeders (so they don't get rained or snowed on) out for all the horses 24/7 and you would be amazed how much I find them NOT at the feeder, even though they are in a dry lot with no grass.

The hay is a 50/50 fescue and coastal mix and everyone is on that minus the late term pregnant mares during their last three months...as that is when we switch them over to straight big round coastal bales and no one gets obese.

I find they play, nap and lounge around for a few minutes, eat for a few minutes then go be active again. I never see anyone munching away for more than 10-15 mins at a time. Been doing it this way for years with the big and little guys and never had any colic or obese horses.

Not to mention I have back and knee problems (and pregnancy at the moment) so it makes life a lot easier and chore time is cut back drastically.
 
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MyMiniGal

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I can't use a hay net, or bag, where I board Halo, but I have come up with another type of slow feeder, and was thinking of using that. I think it would be great to be able to to fill it up and let Halo having something to eat on, all the time, or at least, most of the time. But I have worried about the initial starting of it too. Like will she just gorge herself and founder, due to it? She isn't one to play, so all she would do is eat, I think. So, I haven't tried it yet.
 

rabbitsfizz

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She will gorge to start with, any horse that has been limited and is offered free choice will do so- it is just their way! I found it took three days- I put my Arabs onto free choice and they (at 14.2hh each) ate a bale each the first day - and night- then 3/4 the 1/2 and finally settled down to actually overall less than I had previously been giving them as a limited amount. Of course you have to limit a horse that is turned out on very rich grass- I prefer to do this by strip grazing with a hotwire or using a grazing muzzle (which I aim to try the coming spring) not by removing a horse from grazing. Horses evolved to eat 22 o/o 24 hours a day, you cannot escape this fact. At the very least you do not get very happy horses if you leave them for long periods without food (grazing is NOT essential, they just need to think they are grazing, I love the slow feeder boxes!) at worst you will get horses that colic repeatedly. I have said many times before and I shall say again now- so long as it does not in any way compromise their health, what, exactly, is wrong with a horse that is a bit fat?
 

candycar

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I'm watching this topic like a hawk! I will soon have a real pasture to put my minis in and need to figure out how long they can be out on it and how much hay to feed when they are on dry lot. Of course I want them to spend as much time on pasture as possible(that's why we're spending big$$ to get them one). But like Marty, we have lush growing conditions! We will be starting them on winter grass, so I hope by spring they will be used to it and not over eat when it's lush. I "plan" on keeping the pasture mowed short during growing season.

When I have fed hay "all u can eat" in the winter, I have found that once they settle down (3-5 days)they seem to waste a lot. They pick out the good stuff, trample the rest then act like they're starving until I put out new hay! If I feed extra during winter, but not free feed they don't waste as much. AARG! Minis that think they have biggie tummies!
 

Marty

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I fed round bales from time to time and here's what happened. The first 3 days or so they were on it like flies on a cow chip and i was very worried of impaction. But once they realize it was there and not going away, they began to eat a bit and then go elsewhere. Worked pretty good.

And here's just a comment about grazing. I'm really into the belief that horses are grazers and that is what they need to do. If they are with held grazing, here comes the ulcers, chewing on boards, trees, and eating dirt. . And in spring time around here, forget it. My grass with founder them bigger than you know what. I have to consider these are itty bitty horses who cannot really graze as big horses can all the time for fear of impaction and blowing up which is not good on any level. . So the thing is to know your own horses and their individual limits. Control when needed. but allow them to be a horse as often as possible. Care of miniature horses is really a double edge sword sometimes.
 

wingnut

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Last winter, it was about this time of the year that I gave everyone 24/7 access to our 1.25 acre pasture (for 4 mares). They had hay available too. I figured it was a good time to test this idea out (I also had been chewing over rabbitsfizz advice on the matter) as a little extra weight for the winter wouldn't be a bad thing.

They all did exactly as suggested: They gorged at first. And then acclimated. I continued this access into late May when my 5 yr old mare came up lame and ultimately tested positive for EMS. One of my 4 yr old mares is her full sister. I was worried that their shared blood could mean a shared problem. So I pulled the three younger horses off the pasture except for very occasional periods and with muzzles. The EMS mare didn't see the pasture again until just last week.

This year, I'm trying a new experiment. We purchased a round bale for the first time and a slow feeding net for it. This sits in our dry lot. Even the new baby is eating from it without a problem. It's been out there a month now. Initially we didn't have the net and they really did gorge. Still, we will get six or 7 weeks out of it. The next bale should last a good 8 weeks and possible more. They will get access to the pasture again this week AND the hay bale. Along with some loose hay set out as needed or when they are stalled. Especially the baby as she's being stalled at night for the time being just to be sure she's secure from any cranky mares in the middle of the night. She gets a large flake each night so she has hay in front of her all night.

The goal is that next spring, I'll have a hay bale to transition to when I have to pull at least the EMS horse off the pasture when the grass gets too rich. I also plan to create a "path pasture" next year because the crazy thing is that our pasture is too big and too rich for them. I'm hoping the "path" idea will help them keep moving and chew the pasture down a bit to take some of the lushness away.

Finally, we are exercising everyone far more. We hope the balance of all of this works for all of us!
 

rabbitsfizz

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The point most seem to missing is that in order to graze, horses do not actually need grass. If you allow free access to hay they are, in fact, grazing, even if that is not the accepted definition of the word. Even so, Marty, I am guessing you have never tried strip grazing your grass? I accept that this just is not feasible for a lot of people- that's fine, there is no reason you should feel bad because you cannot have your horse running free through knee deep grass with the wind in her hair- we do not all share the same facilities! What is beyond me is why someone would keep their horses on a dry lot, on an artificial diet that may well do them a lot of harm in the long run, when they have no need to. Keeping the horse in good health is one thing, keeping it looking as we think it ought to look is, IMNSHO, another thing entirely!
 

MyMiniGal

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Rabbitfizz...I'm glad you said all of that. I feel guilty, at times, because where I have Halo boarded, there is no "grass" grazing time for her. As there is no pasture. Some paddocks have pastures, but there are also up to 3 big horses in those. So I asked to have Halo in a dry lot paddock, so that I didn't have to worry about the bigger horses. My husband and I have taken over her feeding, completely, as the place was only feeding her around 6 oz. of hay, twice a day. Halo was cranky and I didn't blame her, so we switched feed, so I could feed her a bit more of it. Then I took over the evening feeding, but that still wasn't enough, so now my husband goes and does the morning one. We give her a good flake, twice a day and I spread it out, so she has to "graze" to eat it all. Head down, moving here and there. She may be without hay for a few hours, in a day, but not like she was. She is much happier now, and her coat is looking good, even with the winter woolies coming in. the feeder I have come up with, I'm not sure will work or not. The barn owner doesn't want a hay net or bag there, so I saw a bucket within a bucket, and the inside bucket has holes, and just lays on the hay, and as the horse eats, the inside bucket moves down with the hay. But since Halo is acting and looking fine, I'm not sure I need to try it or not. It will only hold about a flake and half. Anyway, I am toying with that. Wondering if I should try it or not. All I can do is the best I can, with what I have to work with and we sure are trying our best for Halo.
 

chandab

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Lisa, try your hay feeder (if you already have it, why not), but maybe with just a small portion of her hay to keep her occupied or entertained for that little bit of time when she would normally run out of hay.
 

Helicopter

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From my reading the 24/7 hay fed in the slow feeder nets should be a hay that has been tested and shown to be low in sugars. Easier said than done here in Oz where most hay is Oats or Rye or something equally diabolical. I have a source of native pasture hay which hasn't been tested but theoretically would be much lower in sugars.

The slow feeder nets or some other slow feeder device is really important...don't you think?
 

MyMiniGal

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That's a good idea, Chanda. Never thought about that. Put some out, as normal, but have the slow feeder, for later.
 

chandab

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I have a Hay Pillow for my two fatties, I put hay their hay in it and half in a regular feeder; there is usually a little left in the hay pillow (I know they can completely empty it, if they want to, so they are getting enough and just leaving some. [i actually have a couple Hay Pillows, and usually try to fill them all, and throw the pillow in the paddock for when they are done with their loose hay]
 

MyMiniGal

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We got the makings for the feeder, I just need to have my husband drill out the holes, and see if any hay comes out like I want. They can't be too big or too small. So I am going to have him do some practice ones, on something else first. Halo has tiny hooves, so need to make sure she can't get her hoof caught in one. I wanted to make one of those box kind with the metal grate, but I can't find the grates. If I find anything, it is way too big of openings, or if I find it small enough, they are too flimsy.
 

rabbitsfizz

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The hay pillow is good, so long as the floor is clean and dry, sort of like a feeding ball.

Helicopter- try soaking the hay- you really only have to immerse it and shake dry, like a salad- it needs to be wet, but not left for more than a few minutes. This takes a lot of the sugars out of the hay. Pour the water away, by the way- this seems like a no brainer but I saw someone using the water to soak her Beet Pulp, because it was convenient!
 

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