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Feeding The Veteran

If you are Feeding The Veteran then you should:

● Choose the correct feed for bodyweight, condition and workload:

Oldster – Elevated vitamins & minerals for horses & ponies in light- medium work

N-Hance – Slow release energy for mature horses and ponies still competing

High Fibre Cubes – Low sugar, low starch cube for maintenance

● Ensure the daily intake meets the correct vitamin and mineral requirement to help support your horse or ponies immune system. If feeding under the recommended daily intake then add Balanced Vitamin & Mineral Booster.

● Ensure forage intake is fed at least 1% of bodyweight daily

●Consider Balanced JMB (Joint & Muscle Booster) which will provide nutritional support for joints and muscles.

● Fluid intake is critical; make sure water consumption is monitored at all times.

● Remove any rugs at least daily to check condition and bodyweight.

● Make sure the teeth are regularly checked for sharp edges, occlusion (grinding surface) and loose teeth at least every 6 months or more often if required.

● If your horse or pony has any chronic or age related conditions then discuss any feed changes with your veterinary surgeon.

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Feeding Youngstock

Feeding Youngstock

By Deborah Leabeater MSc, CBiol, MIBiol, R.Nutr. Senior equine nutritional consultant to Balanced Horse feeds

There are many factors that influence the development of young horses and ponies, but nutrition is a factor that must be controlled by the horse keeper. Feeding should be regularly evaluated, and adjusted if necessary. There are many different variables; the quantity of milk consumed and the nutrient levels in pasture that broadly cannot be controlled, so there is no question that poor nutrition as a young horse can have a negative effect on development. It is therefore very important that feeding programmes are carefully designed and monitored to ensure horses meet their full genetic potential.

Much of the research into feeding young horses has centred on reducing the chance and severity of developmental orthopaedic disease (DOD), and most involved agree that whilst nutrition is a cause of DOD, there are several other causes including genetic and environmental factors, hormonal changes and trauma.

The main areas of nutrition that relate to DOD are thought to include overfeeding energy, especially in high starch rations, and mineral excesses, deficiencies or imbalances.

However, with the correct emphasis on the controlling energy intake, it has resulted in some horse keepers creating a problem, underfeeding protein, especially at certain key stages in development.

Nursing Foals

At around 12 weeks, the nutrient levels in the mares’ milk reduce to levels that are probably not adequate for the demands of some modern day performance horses, so some supplemental feeding is required.

By then the foal will have started to consume large amounts of pasture, so then it is important that the quality of the pasture is known. It may not always be possible, but if time and money allow then having the pasture analysed regularly (2-3 times per year) will provide useful data on mineral, protein (and amino acid), fibre and energy levels.

The quality of palatable pasture is also very important. Fields or paddocks that are left un-grazed by horses can affect intake, even though the grazing may appear to offer plenty of green material.

Actual intakes are hard to estimate, but good pasture management should ensure that the pasture is suitable for all animals. In certain clinical and veterinary situations where there is a need for reduced energy (hence pasture) intake, then small paddocks with limited grazed will prove useful.

Feeding Foals

There are several functions and benefits of feeding a foal.

1 – To prevent deficiencies occurring when the mares’ milk and the pasture with low levels of certain minerals are the only feeds available.

2 – To encourage the intake of grain and fibre sources to allow the gut intestinal tract to develop.

3 – To encourage independence to help when it comes to weaning.

In practise, a healthy foal born before June, on a well managed healthy pasture combined with a mare milking normally, then very little additional energy or protein will be needed until the foal is 4-5 months old.

However, since almost all of theUKand Irish pastures are low in key minerals, additional minerals will need to be provided from 10-12 weeks old while the foal is still nursing. The minerals can be provided in the form of a daily feed, selected to provide high levels of minerals and little protein or energy, or less ideally as intake cannot be controlled, through especially formulated mineral licks.

Late foals (who will often begin grazing at a time when protein, energy and mineral levels have declined further), foals whose dams are poor milkers, or foals with poor bodyweight and condition may require additional protein and energy as well as minerals within a daily feed. The foal should then be monitored to ensure that the growth rate is adequate, not excessive.


It is important to remember that as one of the foal’s sources of nutrition and security is removed, an alternative source is provided.

For early foals, weaning comes at a time when pasture protein, energy and mineral levels are falling (June – August), and pasture quality may be low if the weather has been especially hot.

So for many foals, not only milk has gone as a source of nutrition but the pasture may be of a lower quality, and reduced nutrients from other sources.

This indicates that pasture alone will not meet the mineral, energy and protein requirements of a weanling, so the introduction of daily feeding is vital.

A youngstock/yearling ration may be introduced, and in order to keep up daily mineral requirements it should be fed at up to a maximum of 3kg per day.

If additional energy is not required then feeding a high protein and mineral feed at around 1-1.5kg per day, limiting energy intake but still making sure that the protein and mineral requirements are met.

Worms can also be a problem for weanlings, and in very serious cases protein loss can occur. Often the importance of a correct worming programme is overlooked, with some believing that with a closed population of mixed animals, and regular dung removal will be adequate. In these cases a vet should be consulted to put a worming programme in place, and then it is even more important that the weaned foals are already on a correct nutritional programme to ensure that they do not suffer any drop in development before the worming programme has been put in place.

On a final note, it is important to consider that foals who have not received the correct nutrition from a weanling who are then sometimes as a two year old expected to consume vast quantities of concentrate feed per day, in some cases up to 9kg! So it is hardly surprising that then problems arise.

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Feeding The Performance Horse

Feeding The Performance Horse


The biggest variable when choosing a feed for a performance horse is energy.
Whilst scientific research can lead us to the knowledge of the correct levels of micronutrients and protein to be fed, based on bodyweight, breed, work level etc, energy remains the biggest variable.

The amount of energy, and also the type of energy to feed to the horse needs to be decided by the rider, owner, and keeper of the horse.

Energy can come from many different sources, but for practical reasons it is easy to split energy down into two different types; Quick Release Energy and Slow Release Energy.

Quick Release Energy

This form of energy comes from simple carbohydrates, sugars and starches, such as oats, barley, maize etc. also known as cereals. As the horse chews and breaks down his food he creates a bolus (ball) of food and together with enzymes from the saliva these are pushed down to the stomach by muscular contractions called peristalsis.

These simple carbohydrates then get digested in the stomach and small intestine, also referred to as the ‘Fore Gut’, where the enzymes turn them into glucose which can be used straight away, or stored as glycogen in the muscles and then broken down as required.

It is well worth noting that glucose is the only fuel used by the horse’s nervous system, including the brain.

Balanced Horse Feeds Quick Release Energy Products

Competition Mix

Low Intake Competition Mix

High Performance Mix

Slow Release Energy

This form of energy comes from complex carbohydrates, fibre, such as hay, haylage, grass, oil, sugar beet and the other fibrous matters in the horse’s concentrate feed. Once the feed has passed through the stomach and the small intestine, the semi digested food ends up in the ‘Hind Gut’, made up of the caecum, large intestine, colon and rectum. The gut micro-organisms (bacteria), in the hind gut ferment the food creating volatile fatty acids (VFA’s) that are absorbed by the horse and used as slow release energy. It is also in the hind gut where the horse synthesises B Vitamins and Vitamin K, and also reabsorbs water and electrolytes.

Balanced Horse Feeds Slow Release Energy Products

High Fibre Competition Mix


Show Mix

Dual Energy Release

Using the latest advances in nutritional science, Balanced Horse Feeds also manufacture products that combine both Quick and Slow Release Energy. Using highly digestible fibre for Slow Release Energy such as high temperature dried grass, alfalfa, sugar beet and oil and combining them with Quick Release Energy in the form of bruised oats, cooked cereals and naked oats.

Balanced Horse Feeds Dual Release Energy Feeds

Show Mix H.E.

Xtreme Energy



The ‘dreaded’ word! Over the last few years protein has been given a bad reputation, being suggested as the cause for ‘fizzy’ horses or ponies. But like anything, when fed in moderation with a specially designed diet for your horse it can only do good.

Protein is the building blocks for muscles, and having the correct supply of good quality protein for performance horses is essential. With performance horses in such hard work more stress is placed on the muscles, and making sure that they have a good and correct supply of protein will help the muscles grow and repair, thus ending up with a stronger, fitter horse.



These are vital for the support and development of the horses’ musculo-skeletal system. Calcium, the most well known mineral and one everyone is familiar with is one of the most vital. Whilst most horses reach 90-95% maturity by 4 years of age, their skeletal system doesn’t often reach full maturity until they are 6, and in some cases 8 years old. The skeletal system is not fixed, it is constantly moving and evolving, so a correct balance of calcium is essential for any hard working horse.

Underfeeding calcium can lead to horses withdrawing it from their bone deposits and this can lead to familiar injuries like splints and chips, and also we are now seeing more younger horses developing joint problems.

All products from Balanced Horse Feeds contain the correct balance of calcium when fed at the recommended levels, but other feedstuffs, like alfalfa chaff for example, can also be useful at providing additional calcium to the diet.



These are important for performance horses to replace the three main minerals they loose through heavy sweating, potassium, sodium and chloride. The large surface area that a horse has means they have the potential to sweat a great deal, and not just in the hot summer months, but performance horses in the winter that are clipped, hunting horses for example, will sweat just as much, just look at the steam that comes off their body when they stop for a break.

It is important that we replace these important minerals that are lost through sweating, and most of the time this can be done very simply. A horse sweating for an hour can loose between 30-40g of potassium, and hay contains 2% potassium, this means that by feeding around 2kg hay, 40g of potassium will be replaced, this figure would have to be doubled (4kg) when feeding haylage because of the moisture content.

The other two minerals, sodium and chloride, can be easily replaced with common table salt. Most horses will loose around 20g of these minerals through heavy sweating, so adding a couple of teaspoons of salt per day will provide your horse with enough sodium and chloride.

Using an electrolyte supplement, Balanced Salts Replacer, then can be saved and used when the horse is travelling and competing hard.

All Balanced Horse Feeds performance feeds contain raised levels of salt to allow for heavy sweating when the horse is in hard work.


Free Radicals are present in everyday life; they are damaged/corrupted molecules that are introduced to the horse via oxygen. These free radicals attach themselves to the healthy cells in the horses’ body creating a chain reaction and spreading throughout the horses’ body. The latest research points to the fact that most performance horses are prime targets for free radicals, and often hold a heavy burden.

The most well know Antioxidants that we are familiar with in the horses’ diet are Vitamins C & E, and minerals Selenium and Zinc.

Antioxidants essentially “clean up” the free radicals and prevent them from spreading throughout the body.

All of Balanced Horse Feeds Performance Range feeds contain raised levels of antioxidants – Vitamin E and Selenium.

B Vitamins

These are essential for aiding the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates, they help the horse to properly utilise energy. The best source of B Vitamins is pasture, and as stated before, the horses’ hind gut bacteria will synthesise these. Yeast, Alfalfa and molasses are other common composition that can also provide the horse with B Vitamins. But understandably it is not always possible to give performance horses’ unlimited access to pasture, so all the Balanced Horse Feeds Performance Range feeds provide raised B vitamin levels to help the horse properly metabolise and utilise the energy that you are providing.

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Allergy Type Reaction In Horses

Allergy type reactions in horses


“There have been a number of attempts over the years to establish a specific test for allergic responses in horses but none appears to have been accepted as being definitive.”…“To date nothing has been proven about dietary allergies in horses and it is probably not justified to suggest that even most cases are due to diet problems.” Dr.D.C.Knottenbelt DVMS, BVMS, MRCVS The 3 rd International Conference on Feeding Horses – Dodson&Horrell Ltd.

Horses and ponies evolved to wander over many miles finding the balance of nutrients they required for health, healing and development from a variety of grass species and herbage growing in a variety of soil types. Because mankind expects work from his horse and keeps him confined, for convenience, horses are offered extra feedstuffs to provide the energy for work.

If the energy and the protein, vitamin and mineral requirements are not met the horse will use his body stores, and so loose weight and condition. The horse would then be offered feedstuffs that should enable him to put on weight.

Grain has been the traditional agricultural feed for fattening livestock and, as the horse’s digestive system has evolved to digest a certain amount of seed from its grass intake, a limited amount of some cereals has been found to be effective. The traditional cereals used to feed horses are oats (the most easily utilised by equines), maize, barley and sometimes a little cooked wheat.

Some horses have been found to show an “allergy-type” reaction to barley in any form. There have been cases where horses have tolerated a high barley intake only to show a reaction when bedded on barley straw!

Reaction, shown by erratic behavior, lumps & bumps or filled legs, can occur after many years on the same barley-loaded diet. Sometimes it appears that the horse’s system can no longer cope – as when barley is removed from the feed the condition subsides.

In some cases horses have shown a mysterious reaction, although on a carefully balanced diet, and when barley was removed from the diet the problem subsided. When put back on the normal ration later in the year there was no adverse reaction to it. Eminent researchers suspect that for some animals a minor intolerance of barley pre-disposes a reaction to another allergen, which may be temporarily in the horse’s environment, for example certain types of plant pollen.

Some materials offered for use in formulating diets for horses are suspected of causing ‘allergy type’ reactions. As with anything – excesses can be dangerous, for example too much iron can interfere with the utilisation of other nutrients, so care should be taken when using seaweed in the ration.

As all feed passes through the digestive system it is broken down into simple sugars so that it can be absorbed. Horses evolved to digest the variety of sugars found in grass and plant material. But an excess of sugar has been suspected, by some, of causing a reaction, suggesting that if too much molasses is fed it may cause a problem. However molasses has been found to be a very useful part of many rations for generations of horses and would appear to cause no problem when fed with discretion.

A balanced ration formulated from materials that have been tried and tested by horses through the years, and providing all necessary nutrients, should avoid most allergy-type reactions – provided not fed to excess!

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The Truth About Sugar & Molasses

The Truth About Sugar & Molasses

There is huge misunderstanding about feeding ‘sugar’ to horses.
In human foods, the inclusion of molasses (treacle) is synonymous with the homeliness of unrefined sugar, as opposed to highly refined white granules. However, while some people draw this kind of parallel between our diets and those of our horses, others strongly associate molasses for horses with the “sugar is bad for you” message from human nutrition.

Molasses is traditionally added to chaffs & mixes to reduce dust and to increase palatability.  Sourced from either UK grown sugar beet or tropically grown sugar cane, it is crushed and soaked in warm water into which the sugars dissolve and are then crystallised out. But not all the sugar is removed, what remains is a thick, brown, sweet liquid that is molasses.

Molasses roughly contains 40-50% sugar, and is typically added to coarse mixes at 8 -10%.

The horses’ natural diet of grass and other herbage often contains up to 20% sugar (on a dry matter basis) during the spring and autumn flushes and horses will consume large amounts whilst grazing, mostly with no harmful effects.  In fact a 500kg horse may consume roughly 10kg dry matter (50kg fresh weight) of grass per day, thereby eating up to 2kg or 2000g (two full bags of sugar) every day!

However, the key point is that the “sugar” from pasture is ingested in small amounts at a time. The problems that arise from oversupply of sugar in concentrate feed tend to occur when the meal size overwhelms the ability of the small intestine to digest the sugar, resulting in undigested sugar entering the large intestine, and causing significant disruption to the delicately balanced microbial fermentation.

So although horses are very efficient at digesting mono, di and poly-saccharides or ‘sugars’, their digestive system is adapted to  digest and metabolise sugars ingested  in frequent, small amounts (trickle feed).

This is why meal or feed size is so critical to ensure the optimum digestion of sugar from concentrate feed. A typical coarse mix may have 10% molasses added, which will provide approximately 40-50g sugar per kg feed.

Indeed sugar is actually vital for horses as an energy source and the central nervous system (including the brain) specifically requires glucose for energy.

Other benefits of the addition of molasses to chaffs and mixes are the natural nutrients contained within, such as potassium, iron, calcium, salt and B vitamins. So, molasses is actually useful in moderation as long as the horses’ own natural ability to digest sugar in the small intestine is not overwhelmed.

Contrary therefore to the popular belief, the typical addition rate of molasses to chaffs or mixes means that grass usually contains more sugar than molassed coarse mixes!

Here at Balanced Horse Feeds we use these principles and apply them to our range of feeds, providing small, easily digestible amounts of sugar in each recommended meal size.

● 2kg of a Balanced Coarse Mix would typically provide 90g of sugar

● 2kg net of hay may provide typically 180g sugar

● 2kg fresh pasture (on a dry matter basis) would typically provide 120g sugar

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Electro- Salts Replacer (electrolytes)

Electro-Salts Replacer (Electrolytes)

– Formulated for all horses and ponies living in the UK

– Helps replace key electrolytes lost through sweating or through diarrhea

– Helps to promote drinking which in turn helps to restore fluid balance

Balanced Salts Replacer has been carefully formulated to help replace the electrolytes lost through sweating and to promote drinking to restore the fluid balance. It may be added to the feed to assist recovery from sweat loss.

Calculated Analysis

Calcium            1%

Sodium               9%

Chloride           14.2%

Potassium         3%

Magnesium       1.0g

Selenium           0.1mg

Copper               20.0mg

Manganese       40.0mg

Zinc                  30.0mg

Recommended Daily Intake

Horses over 400kg  40 – 60g

Ponies under 400kg – 20 – 40g

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JMB (Joint & Muscle Booster)

horse supplement for joints and muscles

 Formulated for UK horses

– Uses the latest scientific research

– Supports & maintains joints & muscles

– Bio-Available Minerals

The next generation of scientific research has been used to create a joint & muscle supplement formulated especially for horses in the United Kingdom. Formulated to help maintain and support joints and muscles as well as promote performance in competition horses and ponies.

Many compounds that the horse’s body naturally produce to help support natural repair of the joints and muscles can be lost when damage exceeds the body’s ability to produce these compounds. JMB combines these compounds with bio-available minerals and plant extracts which can assist in the natural maintenance and support of joints and muscles.

Calculated Analysis

Per 30g            Per 20g            Per 10g            Per 5g

Glucosamine     7.5g                 5g                    2.5g                 1.25g

MSM                    10.5g               7g                    3.5g                 1.75g

Manganese     0.114g             0.096g             0.048g             0.024g

Vitamin C         2.96g               1.98g               0.99g               0.49g

Vitamin E         0.45g               0.3g                 0.15g               0.075g

Plant Extracts   3.3g                 2.2g                 1.1g                 0.55g

(including Boswella Serate, Rosemary, Grape Seed Soluble Extract)

Initial Loading Dose – 4 Weeks

Horses over 400kg – 30g daily

Ponies under 400kg – 20g daily

All horses and ponies are individuals and in most cases the daily dose can be reduced to 10g per day or in some cases as little as 5g.


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BALANCED Hoof Booster

– Formulated for UK horses

– Contains Bio-Plex Minerals

– Supports & maintains hoof growth & formation

– Elevated levels of Biotin, Methionine, Zinc & Calcium

A balanced diet containing the correct supply of vitamins, minerals and amino acids is essential for the nutritional support of sound and healthy hoof growth. The latest research has indicated that some horses and ponies may require certain key nutrients at higher levels in order to maintain hoof condition.

Horses and ponies with hoof problems, including crumbly feet, brittle or cracked horn, or separation of the white line may benefit from these higher levels of certain key nutrients in their diet:

Biotin – is one of the water soluble B complex vitamins and has been shown to play a vital role in the maintenance of hoof integrity.

Methionine – is a sulphur containing amino acid and has an important function in the protein rich structures of the hoof.

Zinc & Calcium – are also thought to play significant roles in maintaining hoof structure and integrity.

Balanced Hoof Booster provides supplemental levels of these key nutrients on an alfalfa base to ensure palatability and bio-availability.

Calculated Analysis

Per 25g            Per kg

Biotin               15mg                600mg

Methionine       3mg                  120mg

Zinc                  50mg                2000mg

Recommended Daily Intake

Horses over 400kg – 25g

Ponies under 400kg – 15g

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BALANCED Vitamin & Mineral Booster

Vitamin and mineral booster


Balanced Vitamin & Mineral Booster is a broad spectrum vitamin & mineral supplement designed to be used when feeding less than the recommended daily intake of a fully fortified feed or when feeding straights.

Unlike many similar products Balanced Vitamin & Mineral Booster is on an Alfalfa base, rather than a cereal base (normally wheat bran).

Analytical Constituents Per 100g

Vitamin A 40,000.00 iu
Vitamin D3 4000.00 iu
Vitamin E 1,000.00 mg
Vitamin K 4.00 mg
Vitamin C 1,000.00 mg
Vitamin B12 80.00 mcg
Folic acid 40.00 mg
Niacin 40.00 mg
Calcium Pantothenate 50.00 mg
Thiamine 60.00 mg
Riboflavin 30.00 mg
Pyridoxine 30.00 mg
Choline Chloride 400.00 mg
Iodine 1.50 mg
Cobalt 2.00 mg
Selenium 1.25 mg
Copper 130.00 mg
Iron 400.00 mg
Manganese 80.00 mg
Zinc 420.00 mg
Magnesium 1.00 g
Protein 10.50 %
Oil 1.00 %
Fibre 1.50 %
Ash 41.00 %
Total Sugars 22.00 %
Salt 6.80 %
Calcium 11.00 %
Phosphorus 5.50 %
Sodium 3.35 g
Lysine 5.00 g
Methionine 3.00 g
Biotin 30.00 mg
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Youngstock Mix


horse mix for weanling, yearlings and 2-3 year olds

A highly palatable and dust free coarse mix formulated to meet tremendous nutritional demands of weanlings, yearlings, 2-3 year olds or until the desired growth and development has been reached.Youngstock Mix is blended from a traditional mixture of bruised oats, cooked cereals, high quality vegetable protein sources and a concentrate pellet containing a broad spectrum vitamin and mineral supplement including important antioxidants (vitamin E & selenium), magnesium and key B vitamins.Raised protein levels are provided by high quality non GM cooked flaked soya to provide the essential amino acids. This ensures that the young horse or pony has all the essential nutrients needed for correct musculoskeletal development. Pure unrefined soya oil is included to help increase the energy density of the feed.A little chaff can be added to help encourage chewing. When Youngstock Mix is fed at the recommended levels then no further supplementation is required.