When it comes to minerals for horses, we believe that we have the best quality forage focused™ horse feed balancers on the market.
We understand that it can be highly frustrating when you have spent your hard-earned cash on a stash of minerals to last you a few months, and your horse looks at you as if you are completely bonkers feeding them to him or her, but we know what you are going through!
We had big problems. We tried option after option, feed after feed, balancer after balancer, we even had the forage tested way back in 2006 and had a bespoke supplement formulated but because this formulation did not focus on ratios, the problems the horses were experiencing were not solved.
Back then you could only buy a broad spectrum supplement or a hoof type supplement which was just not high enough in the minerals we needed to balance the awful levels of manganese and iron in our forage. We imported the minerals from the United States at great cost and our horses looked at us as if we were feeding them poison, they stopped polishing their bowls and started looking suspiciously at all that came in a bucket.
Fari would stand on his bucket staring at Sarah with a look of disgust. Morris would lift his bucket up, swinging it around and chuck it about, spreading all the feed over the floor. Jesta would sniff at the feed and look disappointed and pick at it without enthusiasm. There was also a constant swapping about checking each other’s bowls to see if they were any better. Sarah cried in the corner! But never one to give up she embarked upon the great ‘how to get horses to eat minerals’ experiment.
Feeding minerals to fussy horses
So for all of you out there who have had the same problem and frustration as Sarah here is a few of our top tips!
- Where fussy horses find the addition of some of the minerals a little unpalatable the best thing is to reduce the amounts and then build up until the horses are eating them or to split the amounts into two feeds. It seems that horses are a bit like children trying new foods, they often need to taste the food at least ten times to decide they now like the new flavour. If you can’t get your horse up to the full amount then be happy at a lesser level because that level is likely to be giving them more of the minerals they need than they would get in other supplements on the market anyway.
- Using tasty feeds as carriers is also useful. Adding a bit of wheat bran (not for laminitic horses though), linseed or flavours like dried mint, fenugreek, and powdered liquorice can make them more enthusiastic or crush up an extra strong mint. Sometimes a splash of apple juice, carrot juice or even a tiny bit of Ribena can help! Just mix it in roughly once you have mixed the whole feed.
- We have also found that if you mix all the feed ingredients dry, distributing the minerals evenly before you add water to soak the feed this helps palatability. This is why we recommend using a fast soak feed to carry the balancer, it just makes it easier to mix everything. Our favourites are copra or Alfa-Beet with a small amount of a high fibre nut included. 100 grams is enough usually to get those pesky, fussy horses to eat the minerals.
- Sometimes mixing a small amount of carrot, apple, beetroot juice or even ribena into the feed helps make horses very enthusiastic. Some people have had success using a small amount of beet root powder has tempted a fussy eater. One horse even liked marmite!
- Horses have a highly developed sense of smell so using a shallow rather than steep sided feeding bucket can help dissipate the smell of the minerals for horses. Understanding this can also help you to be patient while the horse gets used to the unusual smell of a balancer which is very high in minerals and vitamins because it is so low in fillers.
- After putting all the dry ingredients in a bucket add water to make a soup and stir to mix all the minerals, tip the bucket from side to side to stop the minerals sticking on the bottom, once the mixture swells slightly stir and tip again to distribute the minerals evenly. Mixing the minerals well is the secret to getting horses to eat them, if there are clumps in your mixture they will probably turn their nose up at the feed. Experiment with the best mix for your horses in terms of wetness. Some horses prefer a wetter feed others dryer.
- Some people sprinkle the minerals for horses on to the soaked forage their horse eats over night or through the day.
- Splitting the minerals in to two servings can also work.
- Some owners have had success using a small amount of the natural sweetener stevia mixed into the carrier. Stevia does not raise insulin levels and is very sweet so a tiny amount can be used safely with horses and ponies prone to laminitis.
Don’t let your horse make you give up on getting them to eat the minerals though as after only a short time of consistently having these levels in their body you will see a difference in hooves and health because a forage focused approach to supplementing provides combinations of minerals which have been found, through scientific analysis of forage, to be deficient time and time again.
Horse Feed Balancers
Our forage focussed horse feed balancers are of the highest quality, vitamin and mineral supplements designed to balance the total horse diet to the hay, grass, or haylage your horse eats. Forageplus balancers are formulated using scientific forage analysis with reference to the NRC guidelines.
View more of our articles related to feeding horses minerals here.