Horse Feed Balancers
Most horses will thrive on a feed regime consisting of plenty of forage, in the form of grass, hay or haylage, and a ‘hard’ feed of either coarse mix or cubes, bulked out by some additional fibre such as chaff or soaked sugar beet pulp. The feed companies have put much research into ensuring that their various compound feeds (mixes and cubes) are a well balanced diet, containing appropriate levels of all the required vitamins, minerals, traces elements and, of course, energy! However, in some cases it can be beneficial to add a feed balancer to the diet.
What do feed balancers actually do?
In the most basic terms, feed balancers top-up the vitamins and minerals that are lacking from a horse’s diet for one reason or another. They also support the hind gut of the horse (where all of the fibre from its diet is broken down by friendly bacteria that live there), with yeasts and probiotics, to help maintain plenty of these bacteria. You could almost compare it to the effects of those small yoghurty drinks for humans! The end result is that the horse’s digestive system is able to absorb much more goodness from its feed. In fact, in some cases, the addition of a feed balancer can mean that you can reduce the rest of the hard rations.
When should I use a feed balancer?
A strong, healthy horse on a well balanced diet probably won’t require a feed balancer. Although most compound feeds are well balanced, many of us feed well below the recommended levels, so our horses don’t get enough of the vitamins and minerals. Also, these days, most pastures don’t have many different species of grass or herbs and the lack of diversity has reduced the availability of many trace elements and minerals. Therefore, grass kept horses which don’t get a daily feed could be lacking those vitamins and minerals. The same goes for the hay and haylage we feed.
Quite often older horses, or those that aren’t in the best of health, may not have such a healthy hind gut so feeding a balancer will help it to function more effectively.
Although balancers may appear to be dearer, they can save you money in the long run. They are normally fed in small amounts, around a cup a day, so a bag will often last you about a month. They also allow you to feed less hard rations and use fibre rich feeds in their place, so monetary savings are made. Subsequently balancers have become hugely popular.