Horse Diet: Ration Balancer Explained
Have you come to the point where it seems a diet of hay or pasture grasses is no longer sufficient for your horse? Since you can’t always take your hay to the lab, you can take advantage of a recent and potent solution known as Ration Balancer.
Don’t panic because this is normal for most horses. Hay and grasses typically lack some vital vitamins and minerals horses need to grow and thrive. It’s just as equine nutritionist Brian Nielsen, Ph.D., of Michigan State University discovered, “Here at Michigan State, we have analyzed a lot of hay over the years for various research projects, and very few samples we’ve looked at would have met the requirements for every nutrient. Usually, there is a deficiency in copper or some other nutrient, and you’d have no way of knowing unless you had the hay analyzed.”
A ration balancer provides the vital nutrients a horse needs such as amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. It does this without the excess calories that could put young horses at higher risk of developmental orthopedic diseases.
A Ration balancer works with a high-quality forage source and is a great choice for horses that can’t tolerate high sugar and starch levels. Both young horses and mature ones can benefit from a ration balancer.
How the Ration Balancer is used
The ration balancer is available in pellets. The pellets contain concentrated levels of amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. When you purchase a ration balancer, it’s best to start by looking at the manufacturers’ instructions. These will contain feeding directions you need to know how to use the ration balancer.
However, a mature horse can consume one to two pounds of pellets daily. Make sure that your horse’s diet also includes high-quality forage of either grass or pasture.
Know the Rations That Need Balancing
Different horses are usually on different diets. While it’s safe to assume that the ration balancer can balance all rations, here are some types of diet that need or would benefit from a ration balancer –
- Diets of forage alone. As we said earlier, hay and grasses are often deficient in important specific nutrients. Such a diet will benefit from a ration balance.
- Diet of straight (commodity) grains. These include corn or oats, which are beneficial in calories but lack specific nutrients like calcium.
- Seasonal rations. For some horses and owners, horse diets differ by season. A ration balancer is great for such a situation because they help to provide all the necessary nutrients needed all year round for your horse.
- Forage with limited concentrates could benefit from using a ration balancer instead.
Choosing a ration balancer
Always check the labels. As whole as a ration balancer sounds there are various products available. Every product comes with its specifications and recommendations. For example, “Some are created to be fed with a grass hay while others are intended to be fed with a legume or alfalfa hay. Thus, they will contain different nutrients and nutrient levels.” says Brian Nielsen.
Read the manufacturer’s instructions and contact an expert on the subject for guidance on your horse’s diet.
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