All About Balancers
Horse feed balancers are often misunderstood and misused. In simple terms, balancers provide a concentrated source of nutrients to balance the diet. For example, if you are feeding, a forage only diet, straights such as oats/barley or less than the recommended ration of compound feed, a balancer will provide the additional vitamins, minerals and amino acids (building blocks of protein) required for a balanced diet.
Whilst the majority of compound feeds include added vitamins and minerals, there are a few exceptions so it’s worth checking whether your chosen mix or cube will provide a balanced diet if fed at the recommended ration.
Contrary to popular belief and some misleading advertising, balancers do not provide calories for weight gain so shouldn’t be described as ‘conditioning’. Traditional conditioning feeds are high in digestible energy (energy = calories) and designed to be fed at approximately 3-4kg per day for a 500kg horse. Due to the low feeding rate (typically 500g/ day for a 500kg horse), all balancers provide a negligible level of calories. If your horse is underweight, try feeding the recommended ration of compound feed alongside good quality, ad-lib forage.
Choosing a Balancer
Look for a balancer designed to suit your horse’s base diet. For example, an overweight horse on restricted rations of forage will require a different balance of nutrients to a horse turned out with free access to spring grazing. Having said this, avoid getting too caught up on numbers alone as sometimes bigger is not always better! Here are a few tips:
- Vitamins A and D can be harmful if over-supplied. Whilst SPILLERS balancers contain sufficient amounts of vitamins A & D to balance a forage based diet, we don’t include unnecessarily high levels to try and look good on the label!
- In contrast, Vitamin E is one of the most important antioxidants and may be helpful if fed above daily requirements.
- During times of stress, intense exercise or breeding additional vitamin C may provide respiratory and immune support. However vitamin C is expensive and if added at very low levels, is unlikely to offer any benefit to the horse. Where added (not all horses need additional vitamin C in their diet), all SPILLERS balancers contain 2000mg vitamin C per kilogram.
- Balancers labelled as ‘Lite’ are not significantly lower in calories than any other balancer but may provide additional benefits for good doers. SPILLERS Lite + Lean Balancer is high in lysine and vitamin E to balance restricted rations of forage and contains cinnamon, FOS and magnesium to support a healthy metabolism.