Best feed for a native weanling?

SO1

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I think you need to be careful you don't want to much weight at a young age when they are still growing putting pressure on joints etc. These new forests are designed to live off quite meagre rations, over feeding at young age may be setting you up for metabolic issues in later life. Over feeding in youngster can cause developmental orthopedic disorders,

Maybe speak to your vet or someone who has seen the pony and its weight and condition and knows your land and conditions. My YO has got a cob foal and vet has advised not to feed anything other than grass and hay to prevent it getting overweight or having problems. Suregrow has Starch 8.5% and Sugar 6.8% and it also has molasses so might not be suitable for a native foal.

My veteran new forest pony is now on blue chip native but for most of his life he was no balancer at all just grass and hay when he was living out.

I still can't decide whether to go for Pro Youngster balancer which contains the amino acids in too or just stick to the normal Pro Balance. 🙈 I just worry that the protein etc will be too much but I also want make sure he has everything he needs to grow well!
 
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Ellietotz

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I think you need to be careful you don't want to much weight at a young age when they are still growing putting pressure on joints etc. These new forests are designed to live off quite meagre rations, over feeding at young age may be setting you up for metabolic issues in later life. Over feeding in youngster can cause developmental orthopedic disorders,

Maybe speak to your vet or someone who has seen the pony and its weight and condition and knows your land and conditions. My YO has got a cob foal and vet has advised not to feed anything other than grass and hay to prevent it getting overweight or having problems. Suregrow has Starch 8.5% and Sugar 6.8% and it also has molasses so might not be suitable for a native foal.

My veteran new forest pony is now on blue chip native but for most of his life he was no balancer at all just grass and hay when he was living out.
Thank you for this.

My grass is fairly average, not poor and not rich. Good mix of different types with hedgerows, nettles, cleavers etc. He is currently living on a big field used to cut hay and is a really healthy weight.

I was thinking a mug of soaked grass nuts with a 50ml scoop of Pro Youngster which is the recommended amount for his weight and Progressive Earth has said this would be fine too. Does that sound about right? This would be for winter. Summer would be half that amount of grass nuts.

I did really like the look of the Blue Chip Lami Lite Balancer too but no amino acids which I'm not sure I need? I am just very conscious of the Pro Youngster containing whey protein for the amino acids and I really don't want to overdo it but a the same time, I want to make sure he is getting what he needs!

I will ask the vet too.
 

windand rain

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Don't know if such a thing exists but your best bet would be an independant nutritionist not one who is stuck on one product though. On a forum you will get lots of products named because people use what works for them. I have used suregrow since it was marketed but I appreciate there are a lot of new ones so get hold of a good broad minded nutritionist
ETA I am a if it ain't broke don't fix it person but broadminded enough to ask if it is not working I will change it
 

SO1

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If you are really worried about it get your grass and hay tested forage plus do this service and then you can see what is lacking but I expect your pony may not need anything beyond what you are already giving.

There are loads of balancers and supplement out there. I try and avoid anything that has molasses in and anything that mentions adding condition as most foresters get very fat easily and like a lot of native ponies can get EMS. The best thing you can do for your pony is not let him get too fat at a young age if he looks in "show condition' he will probably be overweight. Go for your vets advice on what is a healthy weight.

Thank you for this.

My grass is fairly average, not poor and not rich. Good mix of different types with hedgerows, nettles, cleavers etc. He is currently living on a big field used to cut hay and is a really healthy weight.

I was thinking a mug of soaked grass nuts with a 50ml scoop of Pro Youngster which is the recommended amount for his weight and Progressive Earth has said this would be fine too. Does that sound about right? This would be for winter. Summer would be half that amount of grass nuts.

I did really like the look of the Blue Chip Lami Lite Balancer too but no amino acids which I'm not sure I need? I am just very conscious of the Pro Youngster containing whey protein for the amino acids and I really don't want to overdo it but a the same time, I want to make sure he is getting what he needs!

I will ask the vet too.
 

I'm Dun

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If you are really worried about it get your grass and hay tested forage plus do this service and then you can see what is lacking but I expect your pony may not need anything beyond what you are already giving.

There are loads of balancers and supplement out there. I try and avoid anything that has molasses in and anything that mentions adding condition as most foresters get very fat easily and like a lot of native ponies can get EMS. The best thing you can do for your pony is not let him get too fat at a young age if he looks in "show condition' he will probably be overweight. Go for your vets advice on what is a healthy weight.
The problem is grass and hay in the UK is already horribly unbalanced. Its not a case of giving more, its a case if making sure what the pony is getting can be used effectively. The UK is high iron, this effects the uptake of copper and zinc. These are vital for coat, feet, all sorts of things.

And avoiding molasses in a pelleted balancer really isnt necessary. It will be tiny amounts which is fed in small amounts anyway. Its often used to help bind things. People get hung up on molasses yet dont pay any attention to other ingredients which are potentially much worse.
 

SO1

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I think it is easy to forget native ponies have evolved to be able to thrive on these less than perfect conditions that we have in the UK.

Their metabolism may mean that that they are able to get what they need from what is available in grass and hay. A lot of these stud balancers seem to be designed with the sports horse in mind which have a very different metabolism from a native pony. Sports horse very rarely get EMS which is rife in native ponies. The genetics are very different.

My forester is on a balancer because he is on soaked hay and restricted grazing to try and control his weight, and and also as he is a veteran but for most of his life he has not been on a balancer but just had a token feed of a handful of Allen and Page L Mix or chaff which was the lowest DE feed I could find at the time.

If you go to the breed show you will see plenty of youngstock that have been raised on grass and hay and look in tip top condition. Very few breeders will be feeding stud balancers to their youngstock and in my opinion the problems start to come when these tough ponies start being feed more nutrients than they actually need.

Obviously not all foresters are the same and some of the lighter stud bred ones that look more like mini warmbloods may need to be feed differently.

Nobody will really know if their horse is lacking in something unless they blood test.

Who decided what is the RDA of any nutrient for a horse and how much science and research has actually gone into this? I presume that a large number of horses that are on grass and hay alone have been tested and found to be lacking in vitamins or nutrients and that has been the science that underpins the feeding of balancers in the recent years even to horses that hold their weight well and look in good condition and have no symptoms of medical problems, but cynical me feels that might not be the case and there has probably has been very little clinical trials.

Traditionally I expect hard feed was fed to hard working horses that needed more energy or struggled to hold their weight on hay and grass and it has now become more mainstream and people just presume their horse needs something extra.

I think some people get pleasure from choosing feeds for their horses and seeing them enjoy their bucket food and it makes them feel good and they enjoy the research of the products. I quite like looking at all the products available even if I have no intention of buying them.

I think some people would still continue to feed balancers even if a vet told them their horses was perfectly healthy and did not need any extra and they were wasting their money.

I am not a vet or an equine scientist so I am no expert but these are just my musings from being around horses for over 40 years and for the last 14 years being a new forest owner.

I hope you enjoy your forester they are fantastic breed and becoming popular as more people get to know about them. The only downside is they tend to be really good doers and that can be quite stressful if your grazing is very rich as they can fat really easily. Mine also grows a very thick winter coat and he gets hot easily. He is perfectly designed to do well in a hard winter on the forest but does need clipping to prevent overheating when stabled over night in the winter.

The problem is grass and hay in the UK is already horribly unbalanced. Its not a case of giving more, its a case if making sure what the pony is getting can be used effectively. The UK is high iron, this effects the uptake of copper and zinc. These are vital for coat, feet, all sorts of things.

And avoiding molasses in a pelleted balancer really isnt necessary. It will be tiny amounts which is fed in small amounts anyway. Its often used to help bind things. People get hung up on molasses yet dont pay any attention to other ingredients which are potentially much worse.
 
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I think it is easy to forget native ponies have evolved to be able to thrive on these less than perfect conditions that we have in the UK.

Their metabolism may mean that that they are able to get what they need from what is available in grass and hay. A lot of these stud balancers seem to be designed with the sports horse in mind which have a very different metabolism from a native pony. Sports horse very rarely get EMS which is rife in native ponies. The genetics are very different.

My forester is on a balancer because he is on soaked hay and restricted grazing to try and control his weight, and and also as he is a veteran but for most of his life he has not been on a balancer but just had a token feed of a handful of Allen and Page L Mix or chaff which was the lowest DE feed I could find at the time.

If you go to the breed show you will see plenty of youngstock that have been raised on grass and hay and look in tip top condition. Very few breeders will be feeding stud balancers to their youngstock and in my opinion the problems start to come when these tough ponies start being feed more nutrients than they actually need.

Obviously not all foresters are the same and some of the lighter stud bred ones that look more like mini warmbloods may need to be feed differently.

Nobody will really know if their horse is lacking in something unless they blood test.

Who decided what is the RDA of any nutrient for a horse and how much science and research has actually gone into this? I presume that a large number of horses that are on grass and hay alone have been tested and found to be lacking in vitamins or nutrients and that has been the science that underpins the feeding of balancers in the recent years even to horses that hold their weight well and look in good condition and have no symptoms of medical problems, but cynical me feels that might not be the case and there has probably has been very little clinical trials.

Traditionally I expect hard feed was fed to hard working horses that needed more energy or struggled to hold their weight on hay and grass and it has now become more mainstream and people just presume their horse needs something extra.

I think some people get pleasure from choosing feeds for their horses and seeing them enjoy their bucket food and it makes them feel good and they enjoy the research of the products. I quite like looking at all the products available even if I have no intention of buying them.

I think some people would still continue to feed balancers even if a vet told them their horses was perfectly healthy and did not need any extra and they were wasting their money.

I am not a vet or an equine scientist so I am no expert but these are just my musings from being around horses for over 40 years and for the last 14 years being a new forest owner.

I hope you enjoy your forester they are fantastic breed and becoming popular as more people get to know about them. The only downside is they tend to be really good doers and that can be quite stressful if your grazing is very rich as they can fat really easily. Mine also grows a very thick winter coat and he gets hot easily. He is perfectly designed to do well in a hard winter on the forest but does need clipping to prevent overheating when stabled over night in the winter.
What you are saying is all very well however horses and ponies don’t get to forage much anymore, they aren’t seeking out what they need as they can’t due to the fact that they are kept on man managed paddocks. Also yes they evolved to live in nothing but no horse has evolved to carry weight and work the way they do.

The youngstock balancer in itself won’t make them fat. It’s what it’s given with that will add excess calories, also is the youngster burning calories in the field playing, running, with the elements? Is the grass good or bad? Half a cup/a cup of balancer on its own won’t make a horse fat. It’s the accompaniments.

My Welsh D will live in fresh air once he’s stopped growing, he has evolved the same as any British native pony breed, one minute he looks lean as he’s taken a growth spurt then he will put on a few pounds then he will go lean again. He will do this until he’s about 6.

Whether a pelleted balancer that you can just give alone with a splash of water or with a handful of chaff or a powdered with a handful of grass nuts or a handful of chaff it’s not going to make them fat.
 

SO1

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A lot of youngstock balancers which are mainly designed for sports horses contain probiotics which can cause weight gain.

I am not anti balancers they have their place for horses who are on very restricted diets such as my pony who is on soaked hay and restricted grazing and yes we have tested the hay. Horses that are in heavy workloads and or failing to thrive on forage alone perhaps due to age or a medical condition may benefit as well.

A healthy native youngster who is a good weight on ad lib grass and hay in my opinion should do just fine as should most adults. If you start giving more than they need they could grow too quickly and end up with joint problems or get fat. I am not saying that will happen or that some individuals won't need extra nutritional support but most won't.

I still think most people who feed balancers are doing so with very little scientific evidence that their horse needs it. Most of their decisions are based on information given by feed companies who probably have an unconscious bias as their living is based on selling their products or because of what other people have told them. Those other people are mainly unqualified and in the case of forums like this have not even seen the pony or the OPs set up.

I am unqualified and as I have said this is just my opinion based on what I know about native ponies and what vets have said to YO which is just feed her native cob foal grass and hay she was going to feed suregrow but they said he did not need it and it was not a good idea. Too many people want their youngstock in "show condition" all year round as they think that is a healthy weight when it is not or want them to look mature to get a better price when when they sell.

My suggestion would be for OP to take her advice from her vet who can see the pony and her set up and be able to give her independent advice.

My vets do a health check package for £100 which includes blood test for general health, lameness check, hoof balance check, blood test for red worm, FEC and salvia test for tapeworm, and vaccination and advice on health. I don't know if your vets do something similar but might be worth it if you are unsure.

My other bugbear is over rugging.

What you are saying is all very well however horses and ponies don’t get to forage much anymore, they aren’t seeking out what they need as they can’t due to the fact that they are kept on man managed paddocks. Also yes they evolved to live in nothing but no horse has evolved to carry weight and work the way they do.

The youngstock balancer in itself won’t make them fat. It’s what it’s given with that will add excess calories, also is the youngster burning calories in the field playing, running, with the elements? Is the grass good or bad? Half a cup/a cup of balancer on its own won’t make a horse fat. It’s the accompaniments.

My Welsh D will live in fresh air once he’s stopped growing, he has evolved the same as any British native pony breed, one minute he looks lean as he’s taken a growth spurt then he will put on a few pounds then he will go lean again. He will do this until he’s about 6.

Whether a pelleted balancer that you can just give alone with a splash of water or with a handful of chaff or a powdered with a handful of grass nuts or a handful of chaff it’s not going to make them fat.
 
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A lot of youngstock balancers which are mainly designed for sports horses contain probiotics which can cause weight gain.

I am not anti balancers they have their place for horses who are on very restricted diets such as my pony who is on soaked hay and restricted grazing and yes we have tested the hay. Horses that are in heavy workloads and or failing to thrive on forage alone perhaps due to age or a medical condition may benefit as well.

A healthy native youngster who is a good weight on ad lib grass and hay in my opinion should do just fine as should most adults. If you start giving more than they need they could grow too quickly and end up with joint problems or get fat. I am not saying that will happen or that some individuals won't need extra nutritional support but most won't.

I still think most people who feed balancers are doing so with very little scientific evidence that their horse needs it. Most of their decisions are based on information given by feed companies who probably have an unconscious bias as their living is based on selling their products or because of what other people have told them. Those other people are mainly unqualified and in the case of forums like this have not even seen the pony or the OPs set up.

I am unqualified and as I have said this is just my opinion based on what I know about native ponies and what vets have said to YO which is just feed her native cob foal grass and hay she was going to feed suregrow but they said he did not need it and it was not a good idea. Too many people want their youngstock in "show condition" all year round as they think that is a healthy weight when it is not or want them to look mature to get a better price when when they sell.

My suggestion would be for OP to take her advice from her vet who can see the pony and her set up and be able to give her independent advice.

My vets do a health check package for £100 which includes blood test for general health, lameness check, hoof balance check, blood test for red worm, FEC and salvia test for tapeworm, and vaccination and advice on health. I don't know if your vets do something similar but might be worth it if you are unsure.

My other bugbear is over rugging.
However my vet approves of my boy getting his balancer as it’s providing everything he needs for healthy growth which out pastures and hay won’t always give. It’s exactly like a human taking a daily supplement, we don’t need everything that’s in it but it tops up what we are lacking with very little chance for anything to go wrong as the body expels what it doesn’t need, so again that vet of you YO’s
opinion is the opinion of a individual which is all everyone is giving.

Your replies seem very science based but ultimately aren’t and are all opinions which is all anyone else is giving based on their successes with their ponies which is what the OP is asking for. No feed company pushed anything on me. I chose that product as it was the best I could find being low starch and sugar (perfect for a native) with good Vit levels. So I’m passing my experience and successes with it on to someone else. Whether they do or don’t isn’t a bother to me but you seem to be dissing everything without any true scientific or proven content other than your own experience which is all other are offering.

Also the rug thing to me you have stated you don’t know where everyone is and what their set up is so cannot judge on it, you may hate it but hating on others for something you don’t like isn’t really productive when you don’t know everyone’s circumstances 🙂

Food For thought perhaps 🙂
 

windand rain

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Will agree so1 about rugging 99% of foals are damaged by rugs especially weanlings and younger. They are heavy on young joints and interfere with the heat control and metabolism pretty sure if someone did the research rugs would have contributed to kissiing spines and the frafility of some horse ty
 

Ellietotz

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I am still absolutely undecided on this. 😂
He is a normal weight currently on grass 24/7. He will be coming onto roughly the same grass with the addition of hay. Mare gets soaked grass nuts so I'd probably be looking to give him a blob of them too just to get him used to a routine and not being left out etc.

I really don't want to risk complications later on in life for him by overdoing it but equally by not doing enough! I was just going to do grass nuts with Pro Balance or Pro Youngster which is the same as the normal balancer with the addition of amino acids/whey protein or perhaps just the grass nuts with no supplement at all!
 

windand rain

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Have a pony near here that was really badly done as a youngster only fed grass and crappy pony nuts chucked amongst a small herd. Looked like a yearling at 3 it was the ugliest pony I have seen for a long time. It now has a great owner but the damage has been done and she has very very loose joints and is going to be a long time catching up and hopefully recover without a series of surgeries
Should add that she is now a very pretty pony now her body is the right shape and size for her head
 
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