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What's the deal with Balancers?

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Some swear by them, others loathe them. Yet what exactly are they and what’s more, can they benefit your horse?

Let’s deal with the former to begin with; put simply balancers are a way of getting broad spectrum vitamins and minerals into your horse’s diet – generally aimed at aiding health, coat condition and hoof quality. They’re often a concentrated pellet and fed in small amounts (by the cup). It is for this reason that they tend to be ideal for good doers, who are in need of a balanced diet without any extra calories.

Similarly, it is also why balancers aren’t designed for weight-gain. Feeding 250g of a balancer will be providing a negligible level of calories, contributing very little to a horse in need of more condition. Equally, it’s not the kind of thing you suddenly double the horse’s intake of, if their workload increases – unlikely to make much difference and you’ll end up wasting your pennies.

In an ideal world, a balancer is fed at a consistent rate alongside a basic fibre source and an un-supplemented calorie source. This way things are kept simple and there’s no risk of unnecessarily doubling up on the same nutrients.

The tricky part comes where a balancer is fed alongside a supplemented feed source. With more and more feed companies including their own vitamin and mineral premixes in everything from cubes to chaffs – if you’re feeding a branded chaff, cube and balancer, odds are you will be doubling up on the balancer element at least twice (the balancer itself and the cubes, though there are also some brands of chaff which have a balancer added too)!

Whilst it can be pretty helpful to have a vitamin and mineral premix included in a basic fibre cube or what have you – unless you’re feeding the recommended daily amount (which we all know always seems like a ginormous quantity that we tend to ignore!), odds are your horse is then not getting the proper level of vits and mins they’re designed to get from that particular feed.

Soooo, we add a balancer to the party. Perhaps we then feed that at less than the recommended amount to compensate, or if we’re blissfully unaware we’ll plonk it in as it says on the bag (we’re more inclined to cope with a bag telling us to feed 2 cups per day as opposed to 4 stubbs scoops per day!). So where do we stand now?

  • If you’re feeding fairly large amounts of a supplemented feed (conditioning cubes, complete fibre nuts, mixes and some chaffs), chances are you don’t need a balancer. Though you may be unnecessarily doubling up on certain ingredients.
  • If you prefer to know exactly what’s going into your horse and feed straights, a balancer could be the extra support your horse needs.
  • If you sit somewhere in the middle then you’re a complete lost cause! Only kidding, but it does make things a little tricky if you’re feeding small amounts of supplemented feeds and small amounts of balancer, you may be balancing out things overall…you may not!

Using a feeding system based on un-supplemented fibre and calorie sources, allows horse owners the control and flexibility of altering the diet in accordance to workload and how the horse is looking. It then avoids situations where the level of vitamins and minerals a horse is getting, is constantly fluctuating due to being ‘built-in’ to your conditioning cubes for example. All the while, a balancer is fed at a constant rate and doesn’t change regardless of workload etc. 

Interested in a feeding range that can offer this? Consider the CORE&MORE range, click here for more information.

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