Donkeys, Minis, and Ponies, Oh My: Animal Feed and Smaller Livestock

It’s not unusual to see donkeys, minis, or ponies being kept alongside full-sized horses. It’s also not uncommon to see these little guys becoming overweight. Whether you keep smaller livestock to keep your horses company, for small children to ride, or just as a pasture pet, it’s important to know how to feed properly in order to prevent the weight issues that plague them. Here are four tips for administering animal feed to your smaller equines and livestock.

  • Feed by weight. Many horse owners try to feed their smaller animals the same way as the larger ones, but this only results in obesity and all the health problems that go with it.  Like  full-size horses, donkeys, minis, and ponies must be fed according to their weight, but  also keep in mind their level of work (usually not as much as a full-size horse) and their evolution as thrifty animals or “easy keepers.” Similar to horses, these smaller equines should be fed between 1.5 and 2 percent of their body weight per day.
  • Choose low protein animal feed. Since most donkeys and minis are far more sedentary than full-size horses, they need fewer calories. Even a pony who carries small children around likely doesn’t work nearly as hard as a larger mount. For most of these smaller equines, you will need to opt for a less calorie-dense animal feed. This usually means less protein, such as a grass hay (over alfalfa or mix) or a low-protein pelleted feed like our Bermuda Blend.
  • Separate for feeding. One of the primary mistakes horse owners make is not separating their smaller equines from the full-size horses at feeding time. Since donkeys, minis, and ponies need considerably less animal feed than their larger counterparts, it is very easy to overfeed if everyone eats together. To limit your smaller equines’ access to more feed than they need, put everyone in stalls or individual pens at feeding time.
  • Monitor for unwanted changes in weight. Feeding a smaller equine such as a donkey or a mini is often involves trial and error, just as with horses. Also, remember  they are usually considerably less active than full-size horses, since they are not ridden. Start with 1.5 to 2 percent of their weight in forage every day, or read the package of your animal feed to find out the manufacturer’s guidelines. Be sure to check the animal’s weight regularly over the coming weeks and months,  then adjust the amount accordingly if you see any unwanted weight gain or loss. Also remember that if you are trying to put weight on or take it off, this can take a while, so look for very gradual signs over the next month or so.

Just as with larger equines, feeding ponies, minis, and donkeys can be a tricky proposition. For more information on how a pelleted animal feed can help you better maintain your smaller equines’ weight and health, contact Sacate Pellet Mills at 602-237-3809.