They are generally forage-based, no grain pellets that are low in NSC and therefore safe to feed to horses that might be at risk for colic, laminitis, ulcers and other chronci digestive upset problems. They are nutrient dense and generally higher in most nutrients than most conventional feeds. But, they are more than just a vit/min supplement. They offer things like amino acids and prebiotics that are helpful in the digestion/utilization of other nutrients. They also generally contain some caloric value...around 1300 cal/lb....nearly that of some sweet feeds...but, of course, much less is fed.
Ration balancers are also more geared to complement your hay/pasture. Conventional feeds are generally formulated to the old NRC guidelines that provide RDAs that are not meant to sustain health and function, but rather to sustain life....IOW enough nutrients are provided to keep the horse from developing nutritional deficiencies that would ultimately result in death. However, ration balancers are formulated to provide more optimal nutrition...even for working horses and most companies have two formulations that complement either grass hays or alfalfa based diets. You will also note that the biggest difference between these formulations is the amount of protein provided (generally 20-30% for grass and 10% for alfalfa)....these numbers are more in keeping with the new NRC guidelines that recognize that we are not supplying enough protein in our horses diets. This combination of increased protein levels and complementary amino acids that are necessary to utilize the protein shows up on the outside in improved hoof, coat and skin quality....likewise there is improved interior health as well.
While being the ideal feed for easy and normal keepers, ration balancers also are easily complement with rice bran, BOSS, alfalfa pellets/cubs and beet pulp to provide extra calories for harder keepers. The improtant factor is that while you can control caloric intake, you are not altering nutritient intake like you would with conventional feeds. For example if you have an easy keeper and a hard keeper...convention feeding programs would most likely mean that you would limit feed intake for the easy keeper and increase it for the hard keeper...but at the same time, you are also altering nutrient intake in the same manner. Many times, it is this alteration in nutrient uptake that causes a horse to be an abnormal keeper...especially when it comes to hard keepers.
Ration balancers are also economical. Depending on what you feed as your conventional program, it can cost up to 2x as much per bag. However, you will probably feed at least 1/2 to much less than you have been feeding...thus making it no more...and most likely less to feed. Additionally, from my experience with ration balancers....you will also find that most or all of your supplements will no longer be necessary because the ration balancer contains many of the same things or more than what those supplements do....generally, there are no "gaps" to fill like there is with some conventional feeds.
Who make them and where do I find them at??
Buckeye Gro N WIn or ALf Gro N Win
Tribute feeds Essential K
Front Runner 30% or 10% Supplment
Kent Horsego12 or Horsego32
Pennifield All Phase
Progressive Pro Advantage grass or alfalfa formula
Purina Enrich32 or Enrich12
Triple Crown TC12% or TC30% supplement
Brookes Feed All Phase
ADM Allaince Nutrition Gro STrong
Kalmbach Feeds http://www.kalmbachfeeds.com/Dealers.php
32% Horse Supplement Pels
34% Horse Supplement Pels
35% Horse Supplement Pels