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Cowgirl140ty 09-01-2012 08:33 PM

Ration balancers?
So, Im looking into what i believe is a ration balancer for two of my horses. They both stay fat on grass alone. However, I wanna make sure they are still getting the nutrition they need. So I have no idea where to begin. As i have never had my horses where they had this abundance of pasture. So a little background...
One is 11 and one is 9. They go out on pasture at night about 12-14 hours. And are stalled during the day. They are getting a handful of alfalfa and about a 1/4 lb of feed right now. It is a 10% protien and 5% fat a day. I dont want to take them completly off till i have a balancer for them. They are worked everyday and shown every other weekend (sorting).
So for those of you with experience with these, what works the best for you? Or what would you recommend? My vet suggested a horse block, but they are pastured with my two young horses who still get feed as they are still growing. And all the blocks I have found, say to allow access only to pasture fed horses!
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DRichmond 09-02-2012 04:03 AM

If the pasture is that good, maybe some 12:12 minerals, salt, and if they're stalled during the day a little not-too-rich grass hay for them to busy themselves with, in addition to what you're giving them now.

loosie 09-06-2012 01:04 AM

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The best nutritional supp is one that's appropriate to the horse considering their diet. So to be accurate about it, a pasture/hay analysis would be good. Of course, that's not always appropriate/practical, so next best suggestion is to use a program such as or ask a nutritionist to do a basic diet analysis & work out what's the best(don't use ones that work for a feed co, because they'll generally only recommend their co's prods).

They're probably not getting anything really nutrition-wise from the feed, given the amount, but I wonder why you're feeding them anything extra if they're already fat? Just because they're growing horses doesn't mean they need feed regardless of weight. I disagree with your vet re a block, because studies show that horses get very little of anything from a mineral lick.

Cowgirl140ty 09-06-2012 02:41 PM

This isnt a mineral block she suggested. It is a special block for horses specifically for horses on pasture. Its a balancer in block form. And my young horses are a perfect weight. So i know they will not do well on no feed at all.
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verona1016 09-06-2012 06:11 PM

First, you need to consider the purpose of a ration balancer- it is to balance out a horse's diet that is primarily comprised of forage (either hay or pasture). Hay/pasture diets are almost always deficient in at least some minerals due to the mineral profile of the soil the grass is grown in. Certain minerals may be deficient in an entire region (like selenium in many areas of the US) or might be specific to that field based on its agricultural history. Unless you do an analysis of your hay/pasture, you can't be entirely sure the nutrient content.

Luckily, most vitamins and minerals have a wide margin of safety, and providing more than the 'recommended' amount for a horse usually isn't an issue. That's why ration balancers & fortified grains work well for a wide range of horses with access to very different forage. There are some exceptions, and some minerals need to be kept in a certain balance with other minerals (you'll often see people talk about the calcium-to-phosphorous ratio, for example) I second the suggestion of FeedXL to make sure you're keeping those minerals in balance.

Ration balancers are low-calorie feeds that include vitamins, minerals, and protein to supplement an otherwise forage-only diet (they can also be used to supplement grain when it's fed below the recommended levels). Most feed companies make at least one ration balancer (some make two- one for grass diets, one for alfalfa diets). You can read up on ration balancers here: Ration Balancer If you need extra calories beyond a ration balancer, rice bran, beet pulp, and alfalfa (pellets/cubes/hay) are healthy alternatives to feeding grain.

A vitamin/mineral supplement (like SmartVites) is similar, but does not include protein. Be careful of some vit/min supplements- not all of them provide balanced nutrition (a lesson I learned with my horse!)

I'm not sure what kind of block your vet was referring to, but I have yet to see any block that provides horses with a balanced or complete blend of vitamins & minerals. Horses have not been shown to self-regulate any mineral other than salt. The amount that a horse licks at a mineral block or free choice mineral mix is largely due to the horse's preference for its flavor and/or boredom. Additionally, horses tongues are not rough and it can be difficult for them to get even sufficient salt from a block, much less any other minerals.

gigem88 09-06-2012 06:54 PM

My horses are on pasture 24/7 and I supplement them with Life Data Lab's Barn Bag for Performance Horses. Usually a half cup is all you need and if your horse needs more energy, add whole oats. Mine aren't doing a whole lot right now so they only get about a cup of oats with their Barn Bag.

loosie 09-06-2012 07:38 PM

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Originally Posted by Cowgirl140ty (Post 1673938)
This isnt a mineral block....Its a balancer in block form.

Not sure I get the difference, as that's also the point of a mineral block? Perhaps it's just better balanced than the average ones? But if it's a lick block, unless your horses actually chew fair size chunks off it daily, rather than just lick, there are studies that show they aren't much chop.


And my young horses are a perfect weight. So i know they will not do well on no feed at all.
You said they were fat on grass alone?? With how much you're giving them, it won't be making any real difference either.... unless they're minis!:wink:

Cowgirl140ty 09-06-2012 08:13 PM

My older horses are fat alone. And the horse blocks im referring to are made by dumor and are sold at tractor supply. I do plan on having my soil tested. I just gotta plan a day to go to the ag office. The closest to me is about 2 hours.
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loosie 09-06-2012 08:50 PM

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Originally Posted by Cowgirl140ty (Post 1674295)
I do plan on having my soil tested. I just

That's great that you can do that. You may want to have a look into some studies on nutritional analysis before spending your money, because it seems it's more accurate doing a pasture/hay analysis than soil.:wink:

Cowgirl140ty 09-06-2012 09:14 PM

Yea. My main focus are my horses. So i want to make sure they get the best. Especially since they are ridden pretty hard. And shown a lot. Not that cattle horses have to be pretty. But i pride myself on their clean clipped faces, shiny coats. Lol.
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