Forage Balancer - Need suggestions, Also Question on Salt/Mineral Blocks - The Horse Forum

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post #1 of 3 Old 05-16-2013, 06:49 PM Thread Starter
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Forage Balancer - Need suggestions, Also Question on Salt/Mineral Blocks

Our horses are pasture kept, and it looks like I need to add in a balancer for one of them. That's new to me, so if anyone can make any suggestions on this, I'd appreciate it.

I guess the relevant info would be:
HORSE
The horse in question is a 4 year old gelding, Hackney/Hackney cross, about 14.2 to 15hh, and I'd put his body condition at about a mid-4 to a low-5. Since he is just 4 years old and hasn't been worked with much recently, he doesn't have the muscle tone to balance the right amount of fat. He has sort of a lanky teenager look.
WORKLOAD
His workload is minimal, just some basic groundwork from where he spent about 6 months as a lawn ornament before I got him.
DIET
I think the majority of our grass is fescue with a bit of bluegrass, but we've never seeded it for anything specific. It's what was growing naturally in the field when we bought the place. We put hay out too, but it's not any special type.
I give them sweet feed, but mostly as a treat since my understanding is that sweet feed is basically horse candy.

My knowledge on horse nutrition is pretty basic. I don't know anything about all of the assorted supplements that are available now, and I'm just now learning about the different types of hay. What I know about what horses eat comes from people who take a very simple, traditional approach - Horses eat grass (that's in the pasture), hay (that's in bales), and sugar cubes (that's when they're good) - if you know what I mean.
We're in a pretty rural area, but there's no shortage of feed stores, so I should be able to get what he needs easily enough.

As a related question, does it make any significant difference if we give the horses plain white salt blocks versus the brown ones with the added minerals?
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post #2 of 3 Old 05-17-2013, 08:15 AM
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Hi,

It does depend on what's in their diet, as to what they need, so I'd do at least a basic diet analysis, but if it's your own place & you're in USA especially, it's pretty cheap to get a pasture analysis done, to know for sure. Then you can go shopping for the specific prod(s) that fit your horse's 'bill'. FeedXL.com is a fantastic resource & can't remember the details, but I think if you google 'dairy one pasture analysis' you'll come up with info on getting that done.

General supps that I've found good, when you only want a 'ration balancer' with as few calories as possible... Kentucky Equine Research feeds/supps & Smart Pak, tho I haven't looked at many US ones, most not being available over here anyway. It's well worth looking into extra magnesium in the diet. A good article on it is 'magnesium4horses'

If feeding sweet feed/sugar to horses as a treat, you only need to give them a part of a handful(or one sugar cube), so if you're only giving them a few of those, I don't think that's a problem(altho as they enjoy them just as much anyway, I prefer to stick to healthy treats), but if you're feeding substantially more, I'd be cutting right down or changing to healthy alternatives.

The difference between salt & mineral blocks is that one is just salt - sodium, whereas the other is a mixture of minerals(including salt) that are commonly lacking in a horse's diet. Studies appear to show that horses get precious little from salt & min blocks though, so I leave mine one(just salt) as a 'back up' & try to otherwise provide my horses with good nutrition.

*Ed to add.. I said specifically US for pasture analysis because it's quite cheap over there... it's actually cheaper for me to send pasture samples there than get them done here in Oz!
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Last edited by loosie; 05-17-2013 at 08:18 AM.
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post #3 of 3 Old 05-17-2013, 12:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BadWolf View Post

As a related question, does it make any significant difference if we give the horses plain white salt blocks versus the brown ones with the added minerals?
The 2 are basically interchangeable. The white is 100% salt while the brown is 96-99% salt. The remaining 1-4% in the "mineral" block provides trace minerals and viturally none of the macro minerals (the ones they need in large amounts). Do not rely on the "mineral" block to provide the needed minerals in the diet.
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