Diet balancers – more than just for easy keepers
In today’s world of high hay prices and various hay shortages, making sure your horse’s diet is balanced can be a challenge. Hay alone will not supply 100% of the nutrient needs of any horse. All forage types will be short in critical vitamins, minerals and trace minerals. Most forages, even the best alfalfa hays, will fall short in meeting a horse’s needs for essential amino acids that impact their topline, performance and growth. This is where a diet balancer comes in—it supplies the essential nutrition not found in forages, and allows for very specific feeding rates to meet those needs – even by forage type.
Diet balancer defined
Diet balancers, such as ProElite® Alfalfa Advantage Diet Balancer and ProElite® Grass Advantage Diet Balancer, are concentrated sources of protein, vitamins and minerals that are fed in smaller feeding levels than typical feeds. Because 1-2lbs. a day has to do the work of a 4-7lbs., feeding the percentages of all the nutrients on the tag will be higher than traditional feeds. Don’t be alarmed by the higher percentages. Since you feed less of a diet balancer, you are not at risk for getting too much of something – than any other feed. ProElite Grass Advantage Diet Balancer is designed to be fed with diets that are more that 50% grass hay, and provide a higher amount of protein, amino acids and calcium to fill in the gaps left by grass hays. ProElite Alfalfa Advantage Diet Balancer, while lower in protein and calcium than ProElite Grass Advantage, is important in predominately alfalfa hay diets to meet the essential amino acid, trace mineral and vitamin needs of these horse.
Diet balancers, while very dense in their protein, vitamins and minerals, are lower 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 ProElite® Omega Advantage Supplement, or a combination of the two. This flexibility gives you the ability to balance the widest ranges of horse diets to enable superior results and performance.
Diet balancers also can give some sticker shock when compared to traditional feeds. Because of the concentration, their cost per bag will be higher. However, since you feed less daily, the bags will last longer, and in many cases the cost per day to feed horses is often in line or even less than feeding a traditional feed.
Diet balancers are great options for easy keeping horses. Grass hay and a diet balancer like ProElite Grass Advantage Diet Balancer is one of the least expensive, lowest calorie, balanced diets you can do for your horse. 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 effective ways 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, you are adding extra vitamins and minerals they don’t need. With diet balancers, they are controlled independently so you end up being more cost effective.
Broodmares and foals
Because protein, vitamin and mineral balance and intake are 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 ProElite Grass Advantage Diet Balancer or ProElite Alfalfa Advantage Diet Balancer, and hay/pasture. Foals also have a high nutrient need, but typically do not eat a lot of feed. Since 3lbs. of ProElite Grass Advantage Diet Balancer has the same vitamin and mineral content as 8-10lbs. 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 ProElite Omega Advantage Supplement, or if your horse that 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 older horse has lost the ability to chew hay and is forced 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 ½lb. more a day of ProElite Grass Advantage Diet Balancer or ProElite Alfalfa Advantage Diet Balancer 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 far more than just for easy keepers. They can be flexible enough to use with almost any type of horses and deliver great results to go along with the flexibility.
When your horse’s health and performance matter most, you want ProElite® Feeds.