Ration Balancers for Horses: Just the BasicsBy Kentucky Equine Research Staff · November 11, 2011
Yes, horse diets should be based on forages. But sometimes forages provide inadequate amounts of the protein, vitamins, and minerals required for the horse’s stage of life or workload. Horse owners can use balancer pellets to meet the horse's requirements and control the amount of energy supplied to the horse.
A balancer pellet can be used three ways: (1) alone as a low-calorie source of protein, vitamins, and minerals; (2) combined with straight grains for a no-molasses feed; or (3) as a top-dress for a concentrate fed at less than the recommended feeding rate.
So what are balancer pellets?
In a typical textured feed, the protein and vitamin/mineral ingredients are combined into a pellet and then mixed with the energy sources (usually cereal grains). Feed manufacturers often use the same fortification pellet in all of the feeds in a product line but use it in varying amounts depending on what type of horse the feed will be fed to. This fortification pellet is commonly referred to as a “balancer pellet” or “ration balancer.”
Balancer pellets pack a punch, with protein content between 25 and 35%, as well as concentrated minerals and vitamins. Due to the density of the nutrients in a balancer pellet, the recommended feeding rate is lower, usually between 500 g and 1 kg (1 and 2.2 lb), depending on the size and type of horse. Most typical feeds have recommended feeding rates of 2 to 6 kg (4.4 to 13 lb), so it is easy to see that a balancer pellet delivers exceptional nutritional value in a small package.