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<em>Journal</em>

Equine Nutrition

Brush up on equine nutrition tips for wintering your long weanling and short yearling.

The American Quarter Horse Journal
October 7, 2013

Equine nutrition for weanlings and yearlings, Kelley Graphics photo

While you may not have a weanling or yearling this year, “Feeding for the Awkward Stage” in the October Journal provides great equine nutrition information to round out your knowledge as a horseman. (Kelley Graphics photo)

There is a nip in the air and the leaves are taking on a dusky hue. The horses still think it’s summer, but you are preparing for winter. Your weanlings are in an awkward stage – no longer dependent on their mommas for nutrition, but not ready for an adult diet either.

Proper equine nutrition is critical for the growth and development of foals between their 6th and 12th months. Foals require a delicate balance of nutrients and minerals, as well as the correct ratio of carbohydrates and protein, making them much higher maintenance than adult horses.

With equine nutrition in mind, namely that for long weanlings and short yearlings, “Feeding for the Awkward Stage” in the October American Quarter Horse Journal tackles these topics:

  • Grain vs. grass and what is best for your young horse
  • Importance of balancing minerals
  • Benefits of pasture grazing
  • Portion sizes
  • Regular weight measurements
  • Hay testing
  • Evaluation of body condition

Early autumn is a time when horse owners are frequently preparing to wean foals from their dams, and proper preparation makes the process much easier. AQHA Corporate Partner Nutrena shares several management practices that should be in place before the foal is weaned in “Feeding for the Awkward Stage,” and Nutrena also takes a look at weaning from the equine nutrition perspective.

Equine nutrition is something Amy Gumz, owner and manager of Gumz Farms, a breeding operation in Morganfield, Kentucky, always keeps in mind with long weanlings and short yearlings.
 
“I don’t want a fat or obese foal, and if I had to choose a lesser of two evils, I would take a thinner foal,” Amy says. “I do like the growing foals to have adequate coverage over the skeleton and I certainly don’t want them to be hungry.”

Kathleen Crandell, a nutritionist for Kentucky Equine Research, seconds that opinion.

“If they get too heavy, it is not good for the bones because they are carrying too much weight around. If the ribs are just barely covered with fat, that is just right,” Kathleen says.

While you may not have a weanling or yearling this year, “Feeding for the Awkward Stage” in the October Journal provides great equine nutrition information to round out your knowledge as a horseman. Be on the lookout for more Journal articles in the coming months that aid horse owners with the care and management of their weanlings, including best weaning practices depending on the size of your horse operation.  

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