While recently reviewing a farm’s feed program, the manager explained that some of her horses only received 1 pound of grain per day. She felt their weight was good, but yet they appeared to be lacking something in their diet. She was wondering what type of supplements she could add.
When we looked at the tag on her feed, the problem was obvious. Her feed was designed for to be fed at a rate of 0.5 – 0.75 pounds per 100 pounds of body weight. This means that to provide proper fortification for a 1000 pound horse, she would need to feed 5 – 7.5 pounds per day. By that standard, her horses that were only getting 1 lb per day were not receiving the nutrient fortification they needed for optimum health, and thus her feeling that “they appeared to be lacking something”. Her farm was feeding good quality hay at a rate of about 2% of each horse’s body weight, and the overall body condition of the horses was good, but we needed to balance the amino acid and vitamin/mineral fortification.
We reviewed the farms hay test results to establish our baseline. I explained that she could easily improve her horse’s diet with the use of a ration balancer. Balancers have a low feeding rate, generally from 0.25 to 1 pound per head per day, but they contain a concentrated mix of the extra vitamins, minerals and protein required to help horses achieve their full potential.
She was a little unsure about feeding something with a 30% protein level, but I explained that if you do the math, feeding 1 lb of a 30% protein feed is actually providing the same to a little less than feeding a standard 12% feed at a higher rate.
Key features to look for in a ration balancer include:
- Probiotics and prebiotics to enhance fiber and protein digestion, as well as mineral absorption.
- Organic complexed trace minerals to increase the bioavailability – an example of this on the tag would be “zinc methionine complex” in the ingredient list.
- Added biotin and methionine, which are important for hoof and hair coat.
- Guaranteed amino acids (lysine, methionine, etc), mineral, and vitamin levels.
A good quality ration balancer will provide your horse with dietary essentials, and often no additional supplementation is needed!