The key to feeding all growing horses, including weanlings, is to ensure the diet is balanced and dense with nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, lysine and crude protein but without providing excess calories. Excess weight can be problematic for soft tissues that are still forming. One of the best ways to gauge a young horse’s weight is to examine body condition and make feeding adjustments as needed. High-grain or high-energy diets may influence hormonal fluctuations that can be problematic for skeletal development. Starch and sugar intake should be minimized. Instead, optimize pasture and hay by providing it free-choice for a healthier diet.
“From a weanling to about two years of age is really an exciting life stage as young horses grow and develop rapidly. What we choose to feed during this time is so important and essentially sets them up to be healthy adults.”
— Emily Smith, MS, Equine Clinical Nutritionist with Platinum Performance®
Constant turnout with access to pasture will supply many vitamins and minerals, as well as allow opportunity for exercise. This nurtures the growing musculoskeletal system by increasing bone density and strengthening cartilage through consistent low-impact movement. A source of omega-3 fatty acids should be offered in the diet of a growing horse. They are important for normal bone mineral content, density, strength and growth. Omega-3 fatty acids inhibit strong inflammatory factors implicated in bone loss, increase absorption of calcium in the intestine and increase calcium concentration in bones
by Emily Smith, MS,