The promise that some balancers are ‘conditioning’ is one of the most common balancer myths when in truth, they simply don’t provide the calories poor doers need to gain/ maintain weight. The key to dispelling this myth once and for all is in the feeding rate.
Balancers do not provide calories for weight gain
The term ‘calories’ is simply a measurement of energy although when you look at the nutrient table on your feed bag you won’t see a listing for ‘kilocalories’. In equine diets energy is measured in ‘megajoules of digestible energy’. However just like in our diet, the true calorific value of any feed depends on how much of it is consumed. On a kilo for kilo basis, many balancers will indeed contain the same amount of energy as a conditioning feed but there is a vast difference in the feeding rate and consequently, the amount of calories they provide. Most balancers are designed to be fed at a rate of 500g per day for a 500kg horse and therefore contribute a negligible level of energy (calories) to the diet, regardless of the manufacturer. With a typical feeding rate of 3-4kg per day, the recommended ration of a ‘conditioning’ feed will provide approximately 36-48MJ DE vs. just 6MJ in the recommended ration of balancer. The one exception is stud balancers which due to the slightly higher feeding rate, do contribute some calories to the diet although still far less than the recommended ration of Stud Mix or Cubes.
Balancers are not ‘conditioning’
Balancers provide a concentrated source of nutrients to the balance the diet, including quality protein to support muscle and topline. However, the term ‘conditioning’ is generally accepted as meaning ‘for weight gain’ and as we’ve seen, all balancers contain a negligible level of calories when fed at the recommended ration. Although it could be argued that the addition of pro and prebiotics may help support gut health and in turn improve fibre digestion, an increase in digestive efficiency is not going to counteract a calorie deficit in the diet. For this reason, claims that some balancers are ‘conditioning’ are misleading and unjustified.
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