How to Feed a Horse Feed Balancer
We often compare horses and their supplements with children eating their vegetables. Some will love them right away, whereas others may turn their nose up at them!
There are lots of tips and tricks to get fussy horses to eat their minerals and supplements. The following can be helpful and usually one hundred percent successful it just takes a little time and determination but they all end up eating them in the end.
Fast Soak Fibres
We always recommend feeding our balancers and supplements with a fast soak fibre of your choice.
These work as a great carrier for the minerals and will mix well without clumping.
Our favourites are Speedibeet, Alfa beet or Copra with a small amount of high fibre or grass or hay nuts included.
We have included some further information below on our most successful mixing strategy.
Mixing it well
We have found that mixing the balancers poorly to be one of the main reason’s horses refuse the balancers.
If you mix all the feed ingredients dry, distributing the minerals evenly before you add water to soak the feed helps palatability.
This is why we recommend using a fast soak feed to carry the balancer, it just makes it easier to mix everything.
Adding flavours like dried mint, fenugreek, beetroot 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! We now stock beetroot powder and that can be like magic for many horses.
Just mix it in roughly once you have mixed the whole feed. Some people have also had success using marmite!
Our Recommended Mixing Strategy
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 from 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.
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. 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. Again, a strategy of reducing the amount fed to start with at the same time as disguising the smell with something strong smelling like peppermint usually works.
Some people sprinkle the minerals onto the soaked hay or haylage their horse eats overnight or throughout the day. Where a horse is particularly difficult you may even have to mix the minerals in water and syringe them in, this would be more appropriate with a sick horse with an appetite issue due to health.
The main thing is 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, skin and overall 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.
If you haven’t come across the ECIR group they are an excellent source of information on managing PPID and IR horses including the Picky Eaters checklist that I’ve attached to this email. Sometimes it helps just to go through the list for ideas.
For more information go to https://www.ecirhorse.org/ where you can browse and join the group much more information.
You can view our full range of horse feed balancers by clicking here.