Feed balancers are designed to fill the ‘nutritional gaps’ in a horse’s diet, and are becoming increasingly popular as a versatile foodstuff. Formulated with concentrated levels of essential proteins, vitamins and minerals to ensure a fully balanced diet without added calories, feed balancers eliminate the need for additional supplements and can be fed in a number of ways.
As balancers are low-intake and non-calorific, some people choose to feed them to horses that are overweight and therefore getting less than the manufacturer’s recommended feeding guideline. By supplementing with a balancer you are making up the shortfall of nutrients in the diet, so your horse doesn’t miss out on the essential components needed to maintain condition and health.
Likewise, balancers may also be given to horses convalescing or on box rest, as they are likely to have reduced appetites but will still need to be nourished appropriately. A feed balancer provides the antioxidants and prebiotics needed to help your horse recuperate, without delivering additional calories, which add weight to a sedentary animal.
Horses that are under stress due to the demands of competition and travelling may also benefit from being fed a balancer, as their bodies are under greater pressure and need to draw on the nutrients from their diet.
For horses that are fed a forage-only diet, a feed balancer will help optimise the micronutrients available, as today’s horses enjoy a smaller variety of forage than wild horses used to. Horses are in fact designed to eat small, fibrous meals often, rather than larger amounts of concentrated feed once or twice a day.
Historically, horses would be free to indulge for hours on a variety of grazing, including grasses, flowers and herbs. Today, this grazing is largely ‘managed’ by us, which depletes the micronutrient supply somewhat. For this reason, it is vital that we supplement the diet with added vitamins and minerals that are no longer so readily available in nature.
The beauty of feed balancers is that they can be fed in several ways, depending on the nutritional requirements of the horse. They can either be fed on their own to horses living on forage-only diets, or added to hard feeds to enhance their nutrient profiles. Those that still feed straights may also choose to include a balancer to counter out deficiencies.
VioVet sells a wide range of equine feed balancers from some of the most trusted brands, including TopSpec, Blue Chip and Equine America. If you need any help choosing a balancer, please get in touch with us and we will do our best to advise you on a suitable product.
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Written by Hannah Dyball