Complete Feeds vs. Ration Balancers: What’s the Difference?
Nancy M., New Mexico
A. When I start working with new clients, I commonly find that they are feeding their horses a complete feed at a rate that’s less than the recommended daily intake. When I ask why they have chosen a complete feed, the response is often something like, “It is complete and provides him with all the nutrients he needs.” But, in reality, this is very unlikely to be true when the product is fed at a couple of pounds a day (typically well below the recommended daily intake). These clients have gotten complete feeds confused with ration balancers, so your question is a very good one!
“Complete” is a term used to describe a feed that contains everything your horse needs in his diet, including the forage; thus, complete feeds can be fed as the sole ration—no need for hay or pasture, just provide water and the complete feed. As a result, they tend to have very large serving sizes, often around 1.5% of the horse’s body weight. Conversely, a ration balancer is designed to be fed alongside forage and aims to complement common forages’ nutrient profiles
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