Ration Balancer

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Abby P

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As far as I can tell, most of the ration balancers are pretty similar in terms of what they deliver nutrition-wise; it's more region-dependent which one will be easiest to get. I think the Purina product is just fine, if that's what's easiest for you to find. Chewy also carries some things.

Right, NSC is sugar plus starch (it stands for "non-structural carbohydrates" so it isn't counting fiber) - Triple Crown doesn't break the two down in its analyses. So yes, the Purina is a bit higher than the Triple Crown Balancer - but is very similar to the Triple Crown Gold Balancer which I think is around 16% NSC. Either way, since you're feeding such a small amount, these differences work out to only a couple of grams in what the horse actually eats, so an analogy would be like you eating one extra bite of apple with your lunch.

Definitely feed by weight, not volume. What I do for convenience is to weigh things out on a kitchen scale (one that is sensitive to the ounce is fine for this sort of thing) and figure out what volume equals a certain weight, then I can just go by volume when I dole out the feed, I don't weigh out each meal because that would make me crazy. :) Rowan's serving of balancer is a heaping half-cup scoop but every product will have a different volume per unit weight since some pellets are larger, or denser, or whatever - but this is just to give you an idea, it's a small amount. If you come up with needing a 1-quart scoop of it then check your math.

I think the hardest thing with this feed stuff is getting used to translating the label information into what is actually going into your horse. The label is just what's in the feed, not what's in your horse's bucket. The minerals are all expressed in parts per million so to find out for example how many milligrams of copper is in your horse's serving, you have to calculate that. The nutrients expressed as percentages are easier but you still have to do some arithmetic to figure out what your horse is actually eating. These balancers are really pretty great though - if you just feed it by the label directions you should be pretty well covered in most situations (unless you have some weird hay or your horse is not eating hay for the main part of his diet).
 

Cayuse

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My good ole boy country vet told me to feed my horses rolled oats 😝
You know, I used to feed oats for YEARS and never had a fat, unhealthy, metabolic horse. They all looked slick and had great feet. Even a large pony mare who had foundered 3 times before I got her got oats and was sound until the day she passed. Since I went to fancy feed I've had dull coats, poor feet, laminitis, hives, all sorts of issues. I just pulled my welsh pony off a low carb complete feed two weeks ago as he looks like crap (sorry for the word, but he does) since he's been on it. Hay only for him now with timothy pellets to carry the supplement he needs. He looks better already.
 

chandab

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When it comes to the NSC, which is sugars plus starch, specifically the WSC (water soluble carbs) plus starch; the starch is the more important half of that equation, as starch converts at almost 100% to glucose upon digestion, the sugars convert at around 50%. [For metabolic equines, we look as the ESC (ethanol soluble carbohydrates) plus starch; ESC is a subset of WSC. For extremely sensitive equines, you need to consider the WSC levels as well.]
For my equines, most of them seem to do better when the starch level is well under 10%; even if the sugar portion is higher, if that starch level is lower, they handle it better.
 

Willow Flats

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When it comes to the NSC, which is sugars plus starch, specifically the WSC (water soluble carbs) plus starch; the starch is the more important half of that equation, as starch converts at almost 100% to glucose upon digestion, the sugars convert at around 50%. [For metabolic equines, we look as the ESC (ethanol soluble carbohydrates) plus starch; ESC is a subset of WSC. For extremely sensitive equines, you need to consider the WSC levels as well.]
For my equines, most of them seem to do better when the starch level is well under 10%; even if the sugar portion is higher, if that starch level is lower, they handle it better.
Chandab - When I look at the test sheets for hay it has two columns of figures for each item. "As Recieved Basis" and "100% Dry Matter Basis" The latter which is a higher number. Is that the figure I need to be looking at? The Dry Matter? The guy that could explain it wasn't there today. I was so conflicted and ended up going with the hay that is higher in sugar because the other stuff was stemmy which is really hard on one of mine. Now I am second guessing myself!!!!!!!!! 😩
 

chandab

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Chandab - When I look at the test sheets for hay it has two columns of figures for each item. "As Recieved Basis" and "100% Dry Matter Basis" The latter which is a higher number. Is that the figure I need to be looking at? The Dry Matter? The guy that could explain it wasn't there today. I was so conflicted and ended up going with the hay that is higher in sugar because the other stuff was stemmy which is really hard on one of mine. Now I am second guessing myself!!!!!!!!! 😩
For hay, you look at the "as received basis", as that is how it is fed. If you want to share a copy of the results, I'll help you as much as I can with the information it has.
 

Katrina

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As far as I can tell, most of the ration balancers are pretty similar in terms of what they deliver nutrition-wise; it's more region-dependent which one will be easiest to get. I think the Purina product is just fine, if that's what's easiest for you to find. Chewy also carries some things.

Right, NSC is sugar plus starch (it stands for "non-structural carbohydrates" so it isn't counting fiber) - Triple Crown doesn't break the two down in its analyses. So yes, the Purina is a bit higher than the Triple Crown Balancer - but is very similar to the Triple Crown Gold Balancer which I think is around 16% NSC. Either way, since you're feeding such a small amount, these differences work out to only a couple of grams in what the horse actually eats, so an analogy would be like you eating one extra bite of apple with your lunch.

Definitely feed by weight, not volume. What I do for convenience is to weigh things out on a kitchen scale (one that is sensitive to the ounce is fine for this sort of thing) and figure out what volume equals a certain weight, then I can just go by volume when I dole out the feed, I don't weigh out each meal because that would make me crazy. :) Rowan's serving of balancer is a heaping half-cup scoop but every product will have a different volume per unit weight since some pellets are larger, or denser, or whatever - but this is just to give you an idea, it's a small amount. If you come up with needing a 1-quart scoop of it then check your math.

I think the hardest thing with this feed stuff is getting used to translating the label information into what is actually going into your horse. The label is just what's in the feed, not what's in your horse's bucket. The minerals are all expressed in parts per million so to find out for example how many milligrams of copper is in your horse's serving, you have to calculate that. The nutrients expressed as percentages are easier but you still have to do some arithmetic to figure out what your horse is actually eating. These balancers are really pretty great though - if you just feed it by the label directions you should be pretty well covered in most situations (unless you have some weird hay or your horse is not eating hay for the main part of his diet).
Thank you so very much. I'm going to switch over to a balancer and ditch the Pony and mini feed. I had no idea it had so much sugar.
I do feed a good quality orchard grass hay and very limited pasture. They only get grazing time mostly for a change of scenery once and awhile for about half hour but the grass has died back. No lush green stuff. They are dry lotted 99% of the time. I do feed Probios everyday, I use the treats and they get 1 a day.
Not sure if balancers have probiotic so I will have to check that as well so they don't get to much. Feel very blessed for you taking the time to answer questions. Hope you have a great day. Katrina
 

Silver City Heritage Farmstead

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I'd like to add a few things here:

A supplement is to ADD something that is lacking in the diet, or to ADD something extra, like probiotics or biotin.

A balancer is used to provide balanced nutrition to what hay or pasture may be lacking. It's also intended to be used when you've tested your hay and pastures, so you know exactly what needs balancing. Here is a link to an Oklahoma State University article that gives one example of what I'm talking about:

Some areas are lucky enough to have ration balancers that are designed to be used with pasture and grass hays, while other balancers are used to balance a mainly alfalfa diet (whether it's hay or pellets.) Some areas only carry one type or the other.

In my instance, because I: 1) only have one mini at this time 2) can't buy in large quantities from a single source 3) and my feed store doesn't test because of #2 above, I do what works for me.

I have found I have the best top line, weight, overall bloom, and least amount of undesirable fat pad starting to develop, by basing my feed program around alfalfa pellets. I use a ration balancer, crimped oats, and local Bermuda hay. I keep a large mineral block available, as well as a small mineral block with added selenium as my area is deficient.

I did make a change for a couple months, because my feed store was out of my usual balancer the last time I went and it was going to be two weeks before mine came in. I decided to try something else (not gonna lie...they were doing a bag change, so the old design bags were on sale for $10, I got two.)

Tejano's top line has dropped off, he's getting a bit of a belly, his neck isn't as nice and his coat has lost it's bloom. I did deworm when he first started looking off...but I know it's the change of feed.

I've finally used up that 100 pounds, and will be going back to my other feed program. I'll have to weigh everything again (yes! now I can justify buying a new scale since I dropped my old one and broke it.) Once I do, I'll try to remember to update this thread with the amounts I'm using and what products.

In the end, it all boils down to this....you do what works best for you and your animals. Start what looks like a balanced program, and stay with it for at least 8 weeks. If you don't like what your seeing, make a gradual change to one thing at a time over a week. Give it another 6-8 weeks, UNLESS you see a dramatic change for the worse. Try to keep it as simple as possible, and trust your own eyes, hands and instincts over what the internet tells you. Only YOU are there and know your animals intimately. We can offer guidance, and you use what works for you.
 

Katrina

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I'd like to add a few things here:

A supplement is to ADD something that is lacking in the diet, or to ADD something extra, like probiotics or biotin.

A balancer is used to provide balanced nutrition to what hay or pasture may be lacking. It's also intended to be used when you've tested your hay and pastures, so you know exactly what needs balancing. Here is a link to an Oklahoma State University article that gives one example of what I'm talking about:

Some areas are lucky enough to have ration balancers that are designed to be used with pasture and grass hays, while other balancers are used to balance a mainly alfalfa diet (whether it's hay or pellets.) Some areas only carry one type or the other.

In my instance, because I: 1) only have one mini at this time 2) can't buy in large quantities from a single source 3) and my feed store doesn't test because of #2 above, I do what works for me.

I have found I have the best top line, weight, overall bloom, and least amount of undesirable fat pad starting to develop, by basing my feed program around alfalfa pellets. I use a ration balancer, crimped oats, and local Bermuda hay. I keep a large mineral block available, as well as a small mineral block with added selenium as my area is deficient.

I did make a change for a couple months, because my feed store was out of my usual balancer the last time I went and it was going to be two weeks before mine came in. I decided to try something else (not gonna lie...they were doing a bag change, so the old design bags were on sale for $10, I got two.)

Tejano's top line has dropped off, he's getting a bit of a belly, his neck isn't as nice and his coat has lost it's bloom. I did deworm when he first started looking off...but I know it's the change of feed.

I've finally used up that 100 pounds, and will be going back to my other feed program. I'll have to weigh everything again (yes! now I can justify buying a new scale since I dropped my old one and broke it.) Once I do, I'll try to remember to update this thread with the amounts I'm using and what products.

In the end, it all boils down to this....you do what works best for you and your animals. Start what looks like a balanced program, and stay with it for at least 8 weeks. If you don't like what your seeing, make a gradual change to one thing at a time over a week. Give it another 6-8 weeks, UNLESS you see a dramatic change for the worse. Try to keep it as simple as possible, and trust your own eyes, hands and instincts over what the internet tells you. Only YOU are there and know your animals intimately. We can offer guidance, and you use what works for you.
Thank you so much❤
 
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