Originally Posted by Saddlebag
I get a kick out of the name Ration Balancer. How could a feed company know the vitamin/mineral breakdown of hay which is different in each district, even each grower, that their feed will balance this. If you wish to add a hoof supplement to the equation you will have to do some label reading and make comparison's. Even trace minerals can be overdone.
True enough thinking....
While it is super easy for a horse owner to get a forage, hay, soil, and water analysis done on their own farm, many forages/hays are very similar. Grass hays are grass hays and alfalfa hays are different.
Kinda like an apple is an apple is an apple, but it is not a peach.
Entire businesses are devoted solely to analyzing grasses, forages, soils, and waters from all over the country as well as the world. What stuff (soil content, minerals, forage uptake concentrations) is actually very well known, so structure, content, and TDNs are also well known on all the different hay and grass types out there.
Weather patterns don’t affect these as much as soil contents, so unless a hay farmer does something radical to his soils, things usually stay on the same plain and change slowly.
(And, any hay farmer worth his salt knows how not to harm his hay fields and end product.)
Ration balancers can be one component/approach of a good well rounded diet.
Many of them come in “for grass forages” and “for alfalfa forages” to account for the big differences between the two. (FYI, calcium content is a huge difference between grass hays and alfalfa hay.)
For example, in order for my horse to get “adequate nutrition” on a typical feed/grain, he would need between 3 to 6, maybe even 8 pounds a day.
He is a RMH and they are well known for being super easy keepers. Their nicknames are “air ferns.”
All my boy has to do is look at a bag of feed and he gains weight! Not only that, he also does much better on a low sugar/starch diet since he utilizes what he does get very well.
(And we like each other MUCH better without all the sugars too!)
Ok, so feed less grains and supp more...…. Well, I know I am selenium and copper deficient here, but way over in iron and some other things. Most vitamin mineral supps are not calibrated to the various parts of the country the way they are for ruminant nutrition (where these things make a much bigger difference like the calcium mentioned above. It is detrimental for ruminants to not get enough of calcium) so I‘m kinda stuck here trying to balance his needs.
For us, a ration balancer is the answer. Not necessarily because I’m trying to balance all these different things in his diet per say, but because it offers the same things, and them some, that a complete feed does in much smaller amounts, so… it is perfect for us.