Diet Balancers: For More Than Just Easy Keepers
In today’s world of high hay prices and hay shortage, along with escalating grain/ingredients cost for feed, making sure the diet of your horse is balanced can be a challenge. In many cases, making sure you are not over or under feeding is the best way to get great results for the best price. Diet Balancers are, in many ways, the best means of accomplishing this because of the added control over the diet that Diet Balancers can give you.
Diet Balancers Defined
Diet Balancers, such as ProAdvantage® Grass, ProAdvantage® Alfalfa or the recently added ProAdvantage® Adult, are concentrated sources of protein, vitamins and minerals that are fed in smaller feeding levels than typical feeds. Because 1-2 lbs a day has to do the work of a 4-7 lb feeding, the percentages of all the nutrients on the tag will be higher than traditional feeds. Don’t be scared of the higher percentages—since you feed less of a Diet Balancer, you are no more at risk for getting too much of something than any other feed.
Diet Balancers, while very dense in their protein, vitamins and minerals, tend to be very low in calories themselves. This is where their flexibility comes into play. You add the calories an individual horse needs using sources to fit the needs of you and your horse. This can include grains like oats, fat supplements like Envision® Classic or a combination of the two. This flexibility gives you the ability to balance a wide range of horses’ diets in the most cost-effective manner possible.
Diet Balancers may cause some sticker shock when compared to traditional feeds. Because of the concentration, their cost per bag will be higher, but because you feed less daily, the bags will last longer and, in many cases, you will actually spend less money feeding a Diet Balancer correctly than a traditional feed.
Diet Balancers are great options for easy keeping horses. One of the least expensive, lowest calorie and balanced diets you can provide for your horse is grass hay and a Diet Balancer such as ProAdvantage® Adult. There’s no reason to add anything else to it.
Diet Balancers typically never come up when talking about hard keepers, but they can be the most cost-effective way to feed a thin horse. Since the feeding level of the Diet Balancer is based on age and body size—a thin horse gets the same amount/day of a Diet Balancer as a horse that is in ideal body condition—you just add the calories to the Diet Balancer on the hard keeper to achieve the desired body weight. On traditional feeds, some hard keepers need feeding levels above the tag direction. While there is no harm in this, it can get expensive when you are adding vitamins, minerals and protein along with the calorie source. With Diet Balancers, they are controlled independently and end up being more cost effective.
Broodmares and Babies
Because protein, vitamin and mineral balance and intake is so critical for broodmares and growing horses, using a Diet Balancer is the best way to improve the growth and development of your foals. Mares in early gestation tend to not need a lot of calories, but still have a high nutrient demand, which can be met with just ProAdvantage and hay/pasture. Babies also have a high nutrient need but typically do not eat a lot of feed. Since 3 lbs of ProAdvantage Grass® Diet Balancer has the same vitamin and mineral content as 8-10 lbs of a typical “Broodmare and Foal” feed, which feeding level is your foal more likely to eat in a day?
Diet Balancers are often overlooked for the horse in training because calorie intake and source can have such an impact on the diet. However, because of the flexibility a Diet Balancer brings, you get to select the amount and source of calories to meet each horse’s individual needs, while the Diet Balancer does the rest of the work from the key nutrient standpoint. You can choose a higher fat diet by adding products like Envision, or if your horse performs best on a higher carb diet, use oats. Each horse is different when it comes to what they need calorie-wise, and Diet Balancers give you that ability to meet their individual needs.
Until an old horse has lost the ability to chew hay and must switch to a high-fiber “Senior” feed to replace hay intake, a Diet Balancer is a great way to meet the changing needs as a horse ages. As horses age, they will eventually get to a point where they will need a higher level of protein, phosphorus and Vitamin C in their diet. Adding as little as ½ lb more a day of ProAdvantage than normal can, often times, accomplish this need for added nutrition, with minimal impact on the pocketbook.
If you are looking to gain better control and improve results of your feeding program, keep in mind that Diet Balancers are for more than just easy keepers. They can be flexible enough to use with almost any group of horses and deliver great results to go along with the flexibility.