Sunday, March 31, 2013

Miniature Horse Feeding GuidelinesBy Kentucky Equine Research Staff · December 19, 2011

Miniature Horses are popular pets, companions, and competition partners. Despite their small stature, feeding guidelines diverge only slightly from those of their larger relatives. Requirements are simply scaled down.

Like their larger relatives, idle Miniature Horses will eat approximately 1.5% of their body weight per day. For a 200-lb (90-kg) Miniature, that equates to 3 lb (1.4 kg) of feed per day. For Miniatures at maintenance, this probably translates to mediocre- to good-quality forage in the form of pasture or hay. Extremely rich, energy-dense forages such as pure alfalfa should probably be avoided for these horses.

A balancer pellet should be fed; this provides all of the necessary protein, vitamins, and minerals necessary for optimal health.

As energy requirements increase due to physiologic state (more demanding work, late gestation, early lactation), supplemental grain can be added based on body condition. Properly conditioned Miniature Horses should have a body condition of 5, based on the scale of 1 (extremely emaciated) to 9 (obese). For the horse owner, this means the horse’s ribs should be palpable but not seen.

Obesity is a concern for many Miniature Horses, especially those with access to unlimited forage or those offered too much grain. Obesity-related health concerns such as laminitis and equine metabolic syndrome are common among Miniature Horses.

Are you unsure about what to feed your Miniature Horse? Contact a qualified equine nutritionist to help you work out a diet that is healthy and nutritionally balanced for your horse.

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