Following on from my post about chaffs, this post is about my research into balancers.
In my last post I concluded that the base of Abbey’s feed would be Simple System’s Organic Lucie Stalks, which is purely alfalfa (or lucerne as it is sometimes know in the UK). While this is a sound base and it’s calcium:magnesium content should have some antacid properties, it won’t supply all the minerals and vitamins Abbey needs. So Abbey needs a ‘balancer’.
With the ulcers and Abbey’s weight in mind I am looking for a balancer that delivers:
- a range of minerals that balance those in her forage
- vitamins – particularly vitamin Bs
- some protein
- some amino acids – particularly lysine
- some ingredients that may help prevent Abbey’s ulcers returning in the future
It also needs to be low in sugar and starch and not contain any molasses or grain.
ForagePlus have analysed the grass in two of the fields at my and the hay that the yard owners make. The results indicated that, like much of the rest of the UK, our forage has too much calcium which inhibits phosphorous and magnesium. Calcium will also be in Abbey’s alfalfa chaff. It’s all rather complicated but the upshot is that I am looking for a balancer with:
- little to no calcium
- low iron
- low manganese
- high copper (as Abbey’s forage has a relatively high iron content.)
- high zinc (as Abbey’s forage has a relatively high iron content.)
If you want to read more about balancing mineral supplements with the minerals in forage, check out the ForagePlus article here.
Other ingredients that are commonly listed in balancers are amino acids. This is a good article about amino acids.
Check out my revision sheet to find out more about vitamins. In short, Abbey should get most of the vitamins she needs from her forage, but some B vitamins might be useful.
Analysis of the spreadsheet reveals that, none of the pre-mixed balancers are quite right. It’s all very complicated, and I’m not a nutritionist so I’m not going to start mixing my own supplements! Like most things in life, choosing a balancer fore Abbey will be a compromise!
Spillers Light and Lean is the only product to report it’s sugar content (5%) and starch content (9%), the others must contain sugars and starch as the contents includes oatfeed, oils, etc. The Light and Lean has a relatively high protein content, which I like as I am trying to build Abbey’s muscle.
Like the others, it doesn’t seem to contain any B vitamins, however it does contain the three main amino acids that horses can’t make from proteins and a prebiotic (FOS). I am going to give it a try and see how Abbey gets on with it.
As ever, I’d love to hear your comments! Have I drawn sensible conclusions from the wider literature/my spreadsheet, Feed?
Next up…..gastric supplements!
Feed – my spreadsheet containing the contents as found on the manufacturer’s website, you can download it and use filters.
Because feed is such a complicated issue, I’ve written a number of blog posts sharing my research and my decision making process:
- A short guide to ulcers in horses
- Revision – what the words on the back of feed bags mean
- Choosing a chaff
- Common ingredients in gastric/ulcer supplements and what they do
- Choosing a supplement
Info on which minerals generally need supplementing in the UK (you’ll need to scroll down a bit!)