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Wintering the mini: Free choice hay?

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KLJcowgirl

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Hello again, I'm here with yet another maybe silly question.

I usually feed my Miss May 1 flake of hay 2x a day (about 2 1/2 lbs of grass hay with a TINY bit of alf-alfa mixed in), but since Christmas, it has been quite cold. We haven't had many days above freezing, the week before last being mostly negatives. So since then, I've been giving both her and my QH enough hay to still have some left by their next feeding, so basically free choice. I give Miss May now about 2 1/2 flakes per feeding. She doesn't eat all of that, but I'm wondering if that is not a good idea for a mini.

I was looking at her the other day and thought she looked a little pudgy. I felt for her ribs, and I do have to push a little to get to them, but not a ton. This is how I like to keep my QH in the cold, but is that ok for a mini? I've been trying very hard to keep her in proper body condition and I think I may just be worrying to much, as I've just heard over and over again not to let them get fat.

What do you guys think? Is she looking a bit too pudgy? Or am I over thinking it?

Thanks in advance! Still trying to learn and want to change something if needs be.







And one with her head up.

 

MajorClementine

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I feed my two minis about 4-5# of straight grass hay twice a day. So they each get a total of 4-5#. Mine get fat on air so this is plenty to maintain them through even the coldest parts of winter. I've recently started using a hay net (amazon for $4-$7) and now their hay lasts them 3 hours or more instead of 15 minutes. They have to pick at it like when grazing and it keeps a small amount of food in their gut for a longer period of time which is closer to the diet their digestive systems are designed for.

Mine both get chubby in the winter then I work it off of them in the spring. Chubby is okay IMO but you don't want them getting obese.
 

Ryan Johnson

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Its really good to have a little extra weight going into winter , but at the same time you need to be very careful when the spring grass arrives. The high sugar content in the grass can lead to all sorts of issues.

I dont think she looks too bad but with a winter coat its a little hard to tell.
 

KLJcowgirl

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Eeek... that makes it sound like I'm starving her Major... ha I do use a small net I made during the summer months and that flake will usually last a good few hours. Maybe I should break that out again.

Yeah Ryan, I'm having such a hard time adjusting to the crazy amounts of hair the little guys grow! And she does get very limited grass in the spring, both my horses do.

She just seems fatter this year haha
 
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JMS Miniatures

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For winter or off season my minis are on round bales. Yes they are fat, but I'm not concerned about it, as long as they aren't so obese to the point of founder. About the start of spring in March I start monitoring their intake. Say if you have a mini thats 100lbs it would need 2-3 lbs of hay a day.
 

sfmini

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I was taught always to feed hay and supplement as needed with grain.

Learned the HARD way to never judge body condition with eyes but to always feel. ALWAYS.

A little chubby is good, obese like me is not. As long as the weight is good, you are doing fine. Just a decent quality grass hay is great. Don't forget, they are horses, horses have sustained themselves for centuries on just grass.
 

chandab

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Some of mine get free choice during the coldest parts of winter; right now half the herd have round bales in front of them 24/7; the geldings don't, but get pretty much free choice quantities and have some left by next meal.

This picture is several years old, late February, only difference is right now there is more snow on the ground:

Tana - Feb 27, 2010.jpg
 
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Marsha Cassada

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Mine are on pasture but when we have an ice storm I supplement with a hay bag. (They'd rather eat from the hay bag than forage.) It makes me feel better for them to have hay under a shelter during an ice storm, even though they probably don't need it. I do not mind mine being a little heavier in the winter; but it's really hard to tell because they are so hairy. I'd rather err on the side of too much forage when it's cold outside.

I have to really start paying attention, however, when the grass starts greening up! Winter is really the easiest time of year for me; they can be out on the pasture 24/7.

Your girl is very pretty!
 

Miniv

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We double our hay amounts with the cold temps we've been getting.....Like was said above, chubby is good for winter.

A good way to check weight is doing the "touch test".......run your hands over their back bone and over the rib area. You do NOT want to feel bone easily. You want to have to apply pressure to feel their bones. If you are concerned that you don't feel bone with pressure, make sure their neck isn't getting cresty.....however, in this weather, it would be highly unlikely.
 

KLJcowgirl

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Wow, thank you everyone for your replies. Her neck isn't cresty, I did check that, so I guess I'm just worrying to much. I'll just start watching her again as the weather warms up.
 

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