The Horse Forum

The Horse Forum (
-   Horse Nutrition (
-   -   Ration balancers- another question! (

Heelsdown 05-01-2013 11:12 PM

Ration balancers- another question!
Do you feed ration balancers in place of vitamins and supplements or in addition to them?

Is a ration balancer supposed to replace the grains only?

I'm going to be buying my first horse and as much as I've read, I'm still a bit confused.

Is it overkill if I give my horse a good ration balancer like Triple Crown


a vitamin supplement like this
DuMOR® Vitamin Gold™, 20 lb. - Tractor Supply Online Store

and an all around supplement like this

SmartCombo™ Pellets from SmartPak Equine

Is that getting redundant?

Also, can someone explain ADM to me? I read that their products are great but I'm confused by their site. They show feed that is a blend, a supplement and a mineral. Would I choose a food from each category and then feed the three types? For example, if I feed Power Glo, would I also feed someting like Moorglo and Go Strong?

Any suggestions or advice is appreciated!

I'm overwhelmed with vitamins, minerals and supplements and man it starts getting expensive. :-(

This horse is a 13 year old QH who is going to be used for pleasure btw. I haven't bought him yet but I'm in the process. It's my first horse, as if you can't tell, lol.

aforred 05-02-2013 12:08 AM

First, you have to determine how many calories he needs. If he's an easy keeper, forage and a ration balancer would be the way to go. If he needs more calories than he can get from hay alone, that's when you look into feeding other things.

For the ADM, GROSTRONG Mintrate is their ration balancer. For a pleasure horse, that is not going to be working very hard, I would choose PrimeGlo over PowerGlo. (If you decide to go with a feed as opposed to a ration balancer.) The PowerGlo has more starch, less fiber, and a higher feeding rate. ADM recommends feeding a mineral product (one of theirs, of course) with any of their feeds, so that each animal gets the right amount. MoorGlo is a low-starch, high fat source of supplemental calories for those harder keepers or horses in heavier work. Some people also feed it instead of other feeds. I have a hard keeper on it right now, and it works for her.

ETA: Look into It's a great resource for formulating a diet.

Heelsdown 05-02-2013 11:41 AM

Thank you.

I can see the Primeglo would be the better option.

So I'd feed Primeglo by itself or would I need to feed one of their vitamin and mineral foods? And then where would joint and hoof supplements fit into that?

I'd love to find a good ration balancer or heck, even a feed that gives all the vitamins, minerals and basic supplements a horse would need.

The ration balancers seem higher in vitamins and minerals than regular feed but I don't know if they are high enough to take the place of vitamins and minerals.

FeedXL looks like a great site but they charge $15 to create a feed plan. I don't mind spending the money but I wanted to ask here first.

this horse is a pretty easy keeper btw. So far no health issues or problems with keeping weight on or off. He seems right in the middle.

aforred 05-02-2013 12:08 PM

In that case, I would just go with a ration balancer. The Triple Crown or ADM's Mintrate. If he starts losing weight, or goes into harder work, switch to the PrimeGlo.

With the RB, you shouldn't need to feed any additional vitamins/minerals. With the PrimeGlo, you could use something like the QuadBlock, a loose mineral (which ensures they get the right amount), or the tubs. My horses have access to the tubs at all times, and they use them a lot.

Joint supplements can be mixed with the ration balancer or feed. Hoof supplements GENERALLY shouldn't be needed, unless your hay/pasture is poor quality or his hooves are poor quality.

verona1016 05-02-2013 05:06 PM

I like to think of nutrition in terms of three key things: forage, nutrients and calories.

The first and most important thing is forage; that is, hay and/or pasture. A horse should be eating at least 1.5-2% of its ideal body weight in forage daily. Horses are deigned to be eating small quantities of food nearly constantly; their stomachs don't stop producing acid when it's empty like ours do which is one reason why ulcers are so common in horses. Giving a horse 24/7 access to hay or grass is best, but is not always feasible, especially for boarders. When it's not possible, you should try to feed as often as possible (or utilize slow feeders) to avoid long stretches of time without food.

The next key thing is nutrients. Almost all grass is deficient in some mineral or other, whether its a regional deficiency (like selenium in a lot of areas) or specific to the particular pasture due to its agricultural history. On top of that, when grass is processed into hay, it loses some things very quickly (vitamins A & E and omega-3's top that list). A vitamin/mineral supplement or ration balancer is designed to fill those nutritional holes. Ideally, you would get your hay and/or pasture tested to see what its nutritional profile looks like and match it to a supplement that complements it. But this is not always possible. In those situations you have to do your best to find out if there's a regional deficiency or overabundance in your area of anything in particular and use that as a guide.

The third key is calories. A lot of horses do just fine on hay and a ration balancer (and free choice salt and water!) but some horses need a little something extra. There are a lot of ways to provide extra calories. Traditionally horses were fed grains (like corn, oats and barley) but we now know that horses digest the sugars and starches in grains very poorly and that there are much better alternatives. Alfalfa, rice bran, flaxseed, and beet pulp are all great choices to add to a horse's feed if extra calories are needed; which one to pick depends on the horse's needs and availability in your area.

A lot of the pelleted feeds (such as Safe Choice or Strategy) combine nutrients & calories together. While this might seem easier, you often have to compromise one or the other in this situation; for example, an easy keeper might get too fat if fed enough Strategy to meet his nutritional needs. Or if your horse is doing well on an amount that does provide complete nutrition, but then the amount is decreased when he has to be put on stall rest, you're not only cutting down on calories, but also on nutrients that he still needs.

Heelsdown 05-02-2013 08:35 PM

Thank you Verona and aforrd!

okay so it looks like I'll get my pasture tested first. Although he's going to be boarded until fall. So I guess in the fall I'll get the hay tested as well.

The previous owners of my home had horses so hopefully the pasture is good

So aside from good pasture/hay, he'll get salt. Which on another note, should I give him a mineral rock AND salt or just one or the other?

Then I'll find a good ration balancer like ADM Minrate. Hopefully they have it in my area.

Another question, is it possible to substitute alfalfa pellets and beat pulp in place of the ration balancer? I wouldn't want to feed an RB, alfalfa pellets and beat pulp together because that may be too many calories. But would pellets and beat pulp substitute an RB or should I just stick with the RB by itself?

Sorry for so many questions but I was looking at Smartpak's site this week and the amount of supplements and vitamins is absolutely overwhelming, in addition to trying to figure out if I should do a feed vs ration balancer vs mixing my own pellets and beat pulp. ack!

aforred 05-02-2013 08:39 PM

I would go with just the RB to start. If he starts losing, try some of the thing verona listed in the calories section of her post. The alfalfa and beet pulp alone don't have all the goodies in a RB.

I always provide salt and mineral separately.

verona1016 05-02-2013 09:33 PM

I agree with aforred- I'd keep the ration balancer and then add the beet pulp and/or alfalfa back in if he needs it.

I just have a plain salt block for my horse. I couldn't find any scientific studies (just anecdotal evidence) that horses can reliably self-regulate any mineral other than salt.

As for the dizzying array of supplements available, I wouldn't worry about them unless you notice a problem :-)

Saddlebag 05-02-2013 10:31 PM

The term Rational Balancer is a misnomer because it can't automatically balance a horse's rations. It takes bloodwork to see if there are any deficiencies. Should it be fed if the horse is on alfalfa? how about timothy or bermuda grass as their nutrients are similar with sligh variations. I suspect the feed companies are running out of name for their new potions to keep the horse people buying their product. My horses do very well on timothy, 2/3 oats and 1/3 senior and not quite a pound twice daily. They are definitely not underweight.

Heelsdown 05-03-2013 12:08 AM

Thank you ladies!

Saddlebag I totally see what you're saying and that's why I'll definitely be testing our grass and whatever hay I buy. I read that a person is better off spending money on good quality hay than anything else and that makes sense since forage is such a big part of their diet. I'm thinking the RB will be enough but who knows.

So I'll get a salt block in addition to the mineral. Verona that's interesting info about the minerals. I didn't know that. I bought a huge mineral block to put in his pasture where he boards. I want to read more on that.

I'll go with the RB for now and see how he does. Maybe come winter I can play around with adding alfalfa pellets, beat pulp, flax, etc. I take it the best way to monitor weight loss or gain would be a tape measure right? I wouldn't want to wait until I'm seeing the horse's ribs or conversely seeing him turn into a porker before I realize that I need to change my food.

I'm also going to hold off on supplements unless he needs them. Each supplement I was looking at would be around $30 a month. Add 3 or 4 supplements for joint, hoof, coat, digestion, etc and man that adds up. And the thing is, I'm not cheap. I'll spend whatever I need to spend to keep him healthy. But the key is what I need, not what companies are pushing. I'm so easy to sucker into anything that I'm told is good for the horse. I guess after a while , as an owner, I'll know what's good and what's just not necessary.
Thanks again!

All times are GMT -4. The time now is 05:44 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
vBulletin Security provided by vBSecurity v2.2.2 (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2017 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
User Alert System provided by Advanced User Tagging (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2017 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome