The Best Hay to feed your Pony 

Anyone that has owned a small pony will understand the difficulties faced when trying to decide the best roughage/hay to feed them. The balance between providing all the nutrients they need, and assuring that they are going to stay healthy, is hard. A lot of ponies can suffer from EMS (Equine Metabolic Syndrome), Cushings, or can be prone to problems such as laminitis, so making sure you are feeding them correctly is very important. Insulin Resistance ponies do not tolerate hay that has high starch and sugar content, and ponies that suffer from laminitis need hay that isn’t high in calories, so determining the safest roughage to feed can be tricky.  

  • Lucerne Hay – Is high in nutrients meaning it has more calories than some other types of hay and should be feed with caution in ponies which suffer from laminitis. However, it is lower in starches and sugars. Lucerne is a good source of protein, energy, calcium, and vitamins. Soaking the hay for an hour before feeding can help reduce what sugars may be left present in the hay, making it more suitable for some ponies. Feeding a more mature or stemmy lucerne does reduce the nutrient quality if you are concerned about weight gain.  
  • Rhodes Grass Hay – Generally has consistently lower levels of starches and sugars making it a good choice for Insulin Resistance ponies. It is also low in oxalates, thereby not having any adverse effects on calcium absorption or the calcium phosphorous balance.  
  • Teff Hay – Has safe levels of starches and sugars and is also safe for ponies suffering from laminitis, however it does contain some oxalates that can reduce calcium absorption. The addition of a calcium supplement may be needed if deciding to feed this type of hay. It has low protein levels and can sometimes lack palatability.  
  • Grass/Meadow Hay – Is generally a mix of different types of grasses so can be hard to determine nutrient levels, and sugar content can vary greatly depending on quality. It’s advisable to have it tested before feeding to ponies that suffer from IR. Soaking hay for up to an hour before feeding can help remove some sugars from the hay. 
  • Cereal Hay – Probably best to avoid feeding these types of hay to IR ponies as they are high in sugar. This type of hay is quite palatable and depending on when the hay was baled, it can contain some grains, so is not the most suitable for ponies dealing laminitis.  

When deciding what hay to feed your pony, look for hay which has lower sugar and starch levels, hays such as Teff, Rhodes, Lucerne, or soaked Grass Hay. The best advice is to have the hay tested; you are looking for safe levels of less than 10-12% NSC. And if doubt, add a soaking routine to your hay feeding regime!  

If you have questions about feeding your pony, reach out to the Ranvet Team!  


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Every product in the Ranvet range has been developed to meet a horse’s most specific need at any given time, be it in a training environment or on a breeding farm. Having pioneered the formulation of specific medications and dietary supplements for horses, the company is now recognised as a leader in the areas of equine health and nutrition.

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