Ration Balancers for Horses Explained

When fed with forage, ration balancer pellets supplement equine diets without excess calories.
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ration balancers for horses
Ration balancers, in conjunction with a high-quality forage source, can provide the amino acids, vitamins, and minerals a horse needs without the excess calories that could put young horses at higher risk of developmental orthopedic diseases. | Photo: The Horse Staff
As research has advanced our understanding of equine nutrition, we now know more about how best to meet our horse’s nutritional needs. One feed option that owners may notice on the shelves of their local feed store is a ration balancer. This pelleted feed option might have a place in your horse’s diet, so let’s explain how it is used.

Originally formulated for the growing horse, the ration balancer—in conjunction with a high-quality forage source—can provide the amino acids, vitamins, and minerals a horse needs without the excess calories that could put young horses at higher risk of developmental orthopedic diseases.

In addition to young horses, mature equids able to maintain their weight on an all-forage diet of hay or pasture—”easy keepers”—can also benefit from a ration balancer. Depending on the species of forage provided and geographical location where it’s grown, protein, vitamin, and mineral deficiencies might be presence; ration balancer pellets are often used to offset these deficiencies.

In addition, the ration balancer pellet is a good option for horses that cannot tolerate high sugar and starch levels in some grains, such as those with Cushing’s disease (pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction or PPID), laminitis, and hyperkalemic periodic paralysis (HYPP). The lower glycemic index of a ration balancer also has the potential to lessen a horse’s hyperactive behavior

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Written by:

Kristen M. Janicki, a lifelong horsewoman, was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Sciences from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and later attended graduate school at the University of Kentucky, studying under Dr. Laurie Lawrence in the area of Equine Nutrition. Kristen has been a performance horse nutritionist for an industry feed manufacturer for more than a decade. Her job entails evaluating and improving the performance of the sport horse through proper nutrition.

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