Feed balancers, as the name suggests are designed to balance a horse or pony’s ration nutritionally in terms of vitamins and minerals, protein and energy as a result of increased emphasis on forage utilization in the diet.
How many of us are currently feeding an ‘unbalanced’ diet? Thousands of horses and ponies survive on just grazing alone; their coats may not shine and their feet may not be in the best condition but they are generally happy and healthy. How many of us feed mainly forage with just a handful of a coarse mix or cube ‘just for the vitamins and minerals?’ How many of us feed every supplement under the sun except one with vitamins and minerals?
Horses and ponies tend to be tolerant of minor deficiencies in their diets and many of these deficiencies tend to go unnoticed.
These are a few examples of when using a feedbalancer may be appropriate.
- If you are feeding a forage only diet and the grazing is less than ideal; In order to optimise micronutrients supply and provide the key nutrients that are lacking in the available forage sources.
- You are feeding below the manufacturers feeding recommendations of a coarse mix or cube; In order to make up the shortfall that is not being provided by your mix or cube.
- You own a horse or pony that has a tendency to become very overweight; To meet the micronutrient requirements without the excess calories that would be provided by a traditional mix or cube when fed at the minimum level to ensure sufficient intake of vitamins and minerals etc.
- Your horse becomes unmanageable when fed traditional coarse mixes or cubes; To meet micronutrient requirements and to allow for more emphasis of the provision of calories to maintain body condition or support the work that is being done to come from the forage and fibre portion of the diet. Provide long forage sources on an ad-lib basis and consider adding more digestible sources of fibre to the diet such as Alfa A or beet pulp if your horse requires more calories to maintain weight etc.
- You are feeding a diet that is based on using straights e.g. oats, barley etc. To provide adequate levels of Calcium, vitamin E and other micronutrients
- When there are specific problems such as poor coat or hoof condition; To ensure adequate levels of protected (chelated) micronutrients essential for coat and hoof condition e.g. Biotin, Methionine and quality protein etc
- There are high demands being placed on the horse such as frequent travelling and competition; To provide essential dietary elements to horses with limited appetites or reduced fibre intakes
When you have a horse that is on box rest or convalescing; to provide antioxidants, prebiotics and yeast to help to support the immune system and deliver a high plane of nutrition in a small amount of feed.
Like all feeds they should be introduced gradually in to the diet over a period of 7-10 days and the total amount divided between the daily feeds. They can be mixed with a little soaked sugar beet and should always be fed with some chaff to encourage chewing and saliva production. Feed balancers are designed to be fed in small quantities typically 300-800 grams per day (100grams per 100Kg BW) to meet a horse or pony’s daily micronutrient requirements. Check with a nutritionist on the levels to feed if you are already feeding a high level of concentrate feed or there are other supplements that you are wanting to use.
For feeding advice or nutritional plan for your horse please contact Saracen Horse Feeds helpline 01622 718487 or complete a feed advice form at www.saracenhorsefeeds.com